Canada officially welcomes newcomers. At Canadian immigration offices around the world, we tell people their gifts, talents, training will be valued and respected when they arrive on our shores. Every week, our school registers newcomer families.
School councils in Ontario have an essential role in advising school staff and bringing parent, student, family and community voice to the forefront. Our school council is made up of parents who care deeply about the education of their children. They came to Canada for their children, but also in hope that they can contribute to our shared society. We have the benefit of the thinking and experience of a physician, a car mechanic, an engineer, a chemist, and a secondary school teacher. Among us we speak over eight languages. Our parents bring an advanced world view informed by thousands of years of culture from their countries of origin. I feel privileged to be part of their conversation and to learn together.
Yet, how many of these talented people are working in their field? One. Even though they were all welcomed to Canada, they can’t be certified or find work. Why? Because they don’t have “Canadian experience”. And you can’t get Canadian experience without certification.
This sad situation is a reality for so many of our parents and families. What a waste of human potential. We all need to examine our assumptions about the contributions of all Canadians. How can we widen our view and make sure everyone is able to contribute to the Canadian experience?