Budget 2021: Immigration and Multiculturalism/Anti-racism

Overall, significant increases in immigration and multiculturalism/anti-racism program spending, with the relevant budget section excerpts below. Encouraging that IRCC’s IT infrastructure modernization (GCMIS) received multi-year funding.

Most coverage to date has focussed on IRCC and immigration (see CIC news summary below).

What’s not there:

  • Citizenship fee elimination: The government has apparently decided not to implement its 2019 election commitment to waive citizenship fees; and,
  • International students: No measures to assist universities and colleges deal with the fall in revenues and other impact.

Some highlights of the multiculturalism/anti-racism measures:

  • $172 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $36.3 million ongoing, to Statistics Canada to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan that will fill data and knowledge gaps. 
  • $200 million to establish a fund to combat anti-Black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities.
  • $126.7 million over three years to prevent racism and discrimination in health-care systems. This funding will support patient advocates, health system navigators, and cultural safety training for medical professionals.
  • $75 million over five years, and $13.5 million ongoing, to the RCMP to combat systemic racism through new recruitment and training processes, community engagement and other measures.

CIC News summary:

The Canadian government has just tabled its first Budget since 2019.

This major announcement usually takes place in the first quarter of each year, however it did not take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Canadian federal budget receives a lot of attention domestically since it contains the policy priorities the government will pursue, the government’s spending and revenue projections, as well as an overview of the state of the Canadian economy.

Today’s Budget is of added importance for several reasons. It is the first in two years due to the unprecedented times we are living in. Moreover, the ruling Liberal party has a minority government, and is rumored to be considering calling an early election in 2021, which means it may need to rely on the Budget to convince Canadians to give them a majority.

Sometimes, the Budget contains major Canadian immigration policy announcements.

For example, Budget 2014 proposed terminating the popular federal Immigrant Investor Program and Entrepreneur Program. That same Budget outlined that the federal government would invest millions of dollars to ensure that Express Entrywould successfully launch in January 2015.

Here are the immigration priorities outlined in Budget 2021. It is important to note that these are proposals and the Budget needs to win the approval of the majority of Parliament for the Liberals to go ahead and pursue these priorities. It is likely that Parliament will pass this Budget since defeating it would trigger an election— an outcome that Canada’s federal parties likely do not want while the country continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly $430 million to modernize IT infrastructure

Perhaps the most important immigration proposal in the Budget is a nearly $430 million investment the federal government would like to make to modernize its information technology (IT) infrastructure. The Budget calls for the investment to replace the Global Case Management System (GCMS), which is used to manage immigration applications. The purpose of the investment, according to the Budget, includes allowing the federal government to respond to higher levels of foreign national arrivals in the future, better security, and improved application processing.

Reforms to Express Entry

The Budget notes that the federal government has an eye towards reforming Express Entry. The government would like to give the immigration minister more authority to “select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs.” What these changes may entail are not specified in the Budget.https://9c6b1105c6868e5597d2724aa137db10.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Express Entry is the main way that Canada selects economic class immigrants. It accounts for about one-quarter of all the immigrants Canada welcomes each year.

Enhancements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Budget calls for some $110 million in additional spending over the next three years on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The spending will go towards providing information and support to vulnerable foreign workers, increased inspections of employers to ensure they are treating foreign workers well, and improving service delivery to vulnerable workers so they can obtain open work permits if they have been abused by their previous employers in Canada.

Supporting Racialized Newcomer Women

Newcomer women sometimes face barriers to employment in Canada due to factors such as developing English or French skills, lack of Canadian experience, lack of affordable child care, and discrimination. The Budget proposes an additional $15 million in spending over the next two years to build on existing initiatives aimed at helping to improve the employment outcomes and career advancement of newcomer women.

Accelerated Pathways to Permanent Residence

Budget 2021 references the new immigration programs launched by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) last week to provide accelerated permanent residence pathways to essential workers and international graduates this year. Some 90,000 individuals living in Canada will be able to begin to apply for permanent residence beginning on May 6.

Source: https://www.cicnews.com/2021/04/budget-2021-what-it-means-for-canadian-immigration-0417836.html#gs.ynuthh

Budget immigration and multiculturalism/anti-racism sections

Immigration section

Diversity is our strength, including as a source of our economic strength. Net immigration contributed to half of Canada’s average GDP growth from 2016 to 2019, and nearly three quarters of its growth in 2019.

As our workforce ages, immigration ensures the Canadian economy continues to grow, that we attract more top talent and investment capital, and that we continue to create good jobs. Welcoming immigrants is an important part of Canada’s recovery.

A well-functioning immigration plan also enriches our communities, reunites families, and provides protection to asylum seekers and refugees.

Budget 2021 puts forward proposals that would ensure Canada stays competitive with its international partners and is prepared to take advantage of the resumption and growth in global travel, post-pandemic. The federal government also recognizes that Quebec shares responsibility for immigration and that certain initiatives will not apply to applicants seeking to reside in Quebec.page218image56412192

Delivering a Modern Immigration Platform

  • The digital infrastructure that supports Canada’s immigration system must be responsive and sustainable to ensure public confidence and support growing visitor, immigration, and refugee levels. A secure, stable, and flexible enterprise- wide digital platform that protects people’s information will improve application processing and help Canada remain a destination of choice.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to invest $428.9 million over five years, with
    $398.5 million in remaining amortization, starting in 2021-22, to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform that would gradually replace the legacy Global Case Management System. This will enable improved application processing and support for applicants, beginning in 2023.

Enhancing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

  • For over 50 years, temporary foreign workers have been coming to Canada to help meet the needs of businesses. Recently, the pandemic has highlighted the critical role that these workers—the vast majority of whom are racialized and precariously employed—play in Canada’s economy, particularly at the farms that feed Canada and the world.
  • To build on recent actions taken in 2020 to support temporary foreign workers affected by COVID-19, the Government of Canada will continue to protect our most vulnerable and isolated workers, ensuring their health, safety, and quality of life are protected while working in Canada. To this end, Budget 2021 proposes to provide:
  • $49.5 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada, to support community-based organizations in the provision of migrant worker-centric programs and services, such as on-arrival orientation services and assistance in emergency and at-risk situations, through the new Migrant Worker Support Program.
  • $54.9 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to increase inspections of employers and ensure temporary foreign workers have appropriate working conditions and wages.
  • $6.3 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to support faster processing and improved service delivery of open work permits for vulnerable workers, which helps migrant workers in situations of abuse find a new job. The government has zero tolerance for any abuse of workers.page219image56589760page219image56587680page219image56587472page219image56589136

Supporting Racialized Newcomer Women

  • Many newcomer women face multiple barriers to employment, including language, lack of Canadian experience, and in some cases gender- and race- based discrimination. In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada launched a three-year pilot to support employment-related services for racialized newcomer women, such as networking opportunities, employment counselling, and paid work placements.
  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide $15 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to extend the Racialized Newcomer Women Pilot initiative, which will continue to improve their employment outcomes and career advancement.

Accelerated Pathways to Permanent Residence

  • Canada’s immigration system is critical to supporting the economic recovery. That is why the Government of Canada recently announced the introduction of time-limited pathways to permanent residence for foreign nationals already in Canada. This includes recent international graduates and workers in essential occupations, such as health care or other critical sectors. These pathways would not only help retain the talent of those already in Canada, but would also recognize the significant contribution to Canada—and personal sacrifice—these workers have made during the pandemic. In Quebec, which shares responsibility for immigration, this initiative will not apply.

Streamlining Express Entry

  • Canada’s Express Entry system has been in place since 2015. It has a track record of bringing in highly skilled immigrants who succeed in Canada’seconomy and society. These newcomers fill needs in our economy that are critical for our growth and create shared prosperity for all. StreamliningCanada’s Express Entry system will allow the government to ensure our immigration system responds to Canada’s growing economic and labour force needs and help Canada reach its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan.
  • The Government of Canada intends to propose amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to provide the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada with authority to use Ministerial Instructions to help select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs from among the growing pool of candidates who wish to become permanent residents through the Express Entry System.

Multiculturalism/Anti-racism

7.1 Fighting Systemic Racism and Empowering Communities

Systemic racism can have devastating consequences for the well-being of Canadians. Violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion from opportunities, and myriad expressions of unconscious bias deny Canadians their freedoms and fair treatment. A more equitable and inclusive society demands all Canadians come together to address racism in all its forms and make permanent and transformative changes.

In the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the federal government announced a series of policies and programs to fight against systemic racism and empower racialized communities. These were early steps.

Budget 2021 takes the next steps towards long-term, foundational change. Canada can and will do more to support racialized communities, improve understanding of racial inequities and barriers, build a more diverse and inclusive federal public service, and work with partners to build a more equal and just future.

Strengthening the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Helping Communities Respond to an Increase in Racism

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unequal impact on Canadians, with the increase in reports of harassment and attacks against Asian Canadians being an especially disturbing trend.

The work to address systemic racism is ongoing and must be done alongside engaged and knowledgeable partners. Their invaluable on-the-ground knowledge, experiences, learned best practices, and networks are crucial in the work to create foundational change. And their efforts can effectively bring Canadians together in the common purpose of building a fairer, safer, and more equal Canada where all are free from discrimination.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a Crown corporation created in 1996, as part of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement. The foundation has a quarter century of history working to eliminate racism, reaffirm the principles of justice and equality for all in Canada, and uphold the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Over the past year, the foundation has focused on supporting specific racialized communities impacted by dramatically rising cases of racism. In Vancouver, for example, there has been a 700 per cent increase in reported cases of anti-Asian racism since the pandemic began.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $11 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to expand the impact of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. This investment would allow the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to scale up efforts to empower racialized Canadians and help community groups combat racism in all its forms. This investment will also enable the foundation to facilitate initiatives like the establishment of a national coalition to support Asian Canadian communities, and create a fund to support all racialized communities directly impacted by increasing acts of racism during the pandemic.

All Canadians should feel safe and be free of discrimination. Sadly, certain people are at risk of racially motivated violence, threatening their personal safety and the security of their communities.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $2 million in 2021-22 to Public Safety Canada to enhance its Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program. This program helps protect communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes, by providing not-for-profit organizations such as places of worship, schools, and community cultural centres with funding to enhance their security infrastructure.page228image56375312page228image56369904

Supporting Black Canadian Communities

Events over the last year have shone a light on the complex and unique lived realities of Black Canadians. Data show that Canada’s Black population remains one of the most disadvantaged, with a higher prevalence of low-income households, lower employment rates compared to the Canadian average, as well as a much higher likelihood of discriminatory treatment at work.

COVID-19 has only exacerbated these inequities linked to anti-Black racism, and many Black Canadian communities, and the organizations that support them, are increasingly vulnerable to economic hardship.

To continue to support the work of community organizations that empower, advocate for, and lift up Black Canadians:

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $200 million in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund. This fund would be led by Black Canadians and would create a sustainable source of funding, including for Black youth and social purpose organizations, and help combat anti-Black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in Black communities.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $100 million in 2021-22 to the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative at Employment and Social Development Canada.page229image56261872page229image56258128

The Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative

The Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative is administered by Employment and Social Development Canada. The program supports capacity-building of Black-led non-profit organizations so they can better serve Black Canadian communities.

Organizations that recently received funding include:

  • Black Wellness Cooperative of Nova Scotia (Bedford, Nova Scotia): This organization provides expertise, knowledge, and training to promote health, wellness, and fitness among the African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq communities.
  • Association Francophone de Brooks (Brooks, AB): 90 per cent of the francophone community of Brooks is of African origin. This organization offers activities for young people, community celebrations, and social activities for families in the francophone community of Brooks.
  • Youth Stars Foundation (Montréal, QC): This organization supports vulnerable youth populations, including Black youth, by offering a variety of programs and workshops that use the arts, sports, dance, and music to foster life skills, promote self-esteem, and strengthen interpersonal skills.

Mobilizing the reach and expertise of community-based organizations is an important tool for empowering Black communities and confronting systemic economic barriers. It also ensures that federal investments best serve the needs of their communities. New research published by the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and Carleton University found that Black- led and Black-serving charities receive significantly less grant funding than other charities in Canada.

Better Data for Better Outcomes

For every Canadian to reach their full potential, we need to properly understand the circumstances in which people live and the barriers they face. We cannot improve what we cannot measure.

At present, Canada lacks the detailed statistical data that governments, public institutions, academics, and advocates need in order to take fully informed policy actions and effectively address racial and social inequities. From a detailed understanding of demographic trends to economic and employment data, Statistics Canada has a vital role to play in providing the evidence-based foundation upon which good, effective policies can be built—policies that bring the impacts on marginalized groups into the heart of decision-making.

Journalists and researchers have long worked to tell the stories of where and why disparities in our society exist—whether among racialized groups or the power gap that exists between men and women that leads women’s careers to stall. Better disaggregated data will mean that investigative efforts or research projects like this will have more and better data to analyze.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $172 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $36.3 million ongoing, to Statistics Canada to implement a Disaggregated Data Action Plan that will fill data and knowledge gaps. This funding will support more representative data collection, enhance statistics on diverse populations, and support the government’s, and society’s, efforts to address systemic racism, gender gaps—including the power gaps between men and women—and bring fairness and inclusion considerations into decision making.

Building on other investments in Budget 2021, this provides a combined $250 million over five years to Statistics Canada, ensuring Canada has the data it needs to make evidence-based decisions across priorities including disaggregated data, health, quality of life, the environment, justice, and business and the economy.page230image56253344

To modernize Canada’s justice system, support evidence-based policies, and ensure accountability within the criminal justice system, the government needs to update and fill gaps in its collection and use of data.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $6.7 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $1.4 million ongoing, to Justice Canada and Statistics Canada to improve the collection and use of disaggregated data. This is part of ongoing efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples and racialized groups in the justice system.

Comprehensive academic research enhances our understanding of the causes of discrimination, the impact of oppression on Canadians and our communities, and strategies to support greater justice, equity, and accountability.

Budget 2021 proposes to provide $12 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to fund academic research into systemic barriers facing diverse groups. This research will help inform actions to address social disparities related to race, gender, and other forms of diversity.

Making the Public Service More Diverse

Canadians should have confidence that their public sector workforce is representative of the communities it serves. In the 2020 Speech from the Throne, the government committed to implementing an action plan to increase diversity in hiring and appointments within the public service.

Budget 2021 proposes amendments to the Public Service Employment Act to affirm the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce and avoid biases and barriers in hiring.

Source: https://www.budget.gc.ca/2021/report-rapport/toc-tdm-en.html

Liberals pledge $300 million to support Black-led community organizations in 2021 federal budget

Of note:

The federal government plans to put $300 million forward to support Black-led charitable organizations in 2021-22.

“We know the pandemic has exacerbated systemic barriers faced by racialized Canadians,” finance minister Chrystia Freeland said in her budget announcement Monday.

The budget proposes $200 million to endow a philanthropic fund dedicated to supporting Black-led charities and organizations serving youth and social initiatives.

As well as $100 million for the “Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative.”

Both of which will be administered through Employment and Social Development Canada for the 2021-22 year.

Freeland also announced additional funding for the existing Black entrepreneurship fund.

The Foundation for Black Communities put the proposal forward for an endowment to be written into the 2021 budget.

“This investment will allow for the financial infrastructure to ensure Black communities have long-term, self-directed and self-sustaining resources,” said Rebecca Darwent, a co-steering member of the Foundation for Black Communities. Darwent added that endowing the organization would ensure funding is sustained regardless of changing priorities of future governments.

In a report released at the end of last year, it found that for every $100 of grant funding dispensed by Canada’s leading philanthropic foundations, only 30 cents go to Black community organizations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black Canadians, and the Foundation for Black Communities has said that Black-led community organizations will be crucial to the response.

“The aftershocks of COVID over the next five to 10 years are what we as a community have to prepare ourselves for,” co-founder Liban Abokor previously told the Star.

Source: Liberals pledge $300 million to support Black-led community organizations in 2021 federal budget

After a Year of Turmoil, Elite Universities Welcome More Diverse Freshman Classes

Of interest:

Jianna Curbelo attends a career-focused public high school in New York City, works at McDonald’s and lives in the Bronx with her unemployed mother, who did not graduate from college.

So when her high-school counselor and her Ph.D.-educated aunt urged her to apply to Cornell, on her path to becoming a veterinarian, she had her doubts. But she also had her hopes.

“It was one of those, ‘I’ll give it a shot, boost my ego a little bit,’” she said, laughing infectiously, of her decision to apply.

Then she got the unexpected news: She was accepted. She figured she was helped by the fact that Cornell, like hundreds of other universities, had suspended its standardized test score requirement for admission during the coronavirus pandemic. She also said she believed that protests kindled by the death of George Floyd had caught the attention of admissions officers, inspiring some to draft essay questions aimed at eliciting students’ thoughts on racial justice and the value of diversity.

“Those protests really did inspire me,” she said. “It made it seem like the times were sort of changing, in a way.”

Whether college admissions have changed for the long haul remains unclear. But early data suggests that many elite universities have admitted a higher proportion of traditionally underrepresented students this year — Black, Hispanic and those who were from lower-income communities or were the first generation in their families to go to college, or some combination — than ever before.

The gains seem to reflect a moment of national racial and social awareness not seen since the late 1960s that motivated universities to put a premium on diversity and that prodded students to expand their horizons on possible college experiences.

“I would say the likelihood is that the movement that arose in the wake of George Floyd’s murder has exerted some influence on these institutions’ admissions officers,” said Jerome Karabel, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a historian of college admission.

“But I think an equally important factor may be the effect of the pandemic on the applicant pool — they had a much broader range of low-income and minority applicants to choose from.”

Consider Jaylen Cocklin, 18, of Columbia, S.C., the son of a retired police officer and a state worker. Jaylen, whose two older brothers attend historically Black institutions, decided in middle school that he wanted to go to Harvard, but the events of the past year were a part of his thinking as he weighed his opportunities.

“It was just another thing driving me to go to Harvard and prove everyone wrong, and defy the common stereotype placed upon so many African-American males today,” he said.

He also suspected that Harvard might be thinking it had some duty to young men like him “because of the social outcry.” And, now he says, it appears that he was right.

He finds himself deciding among Harvard, Emory, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Wake Forest, Davidson and Georgetown.

The growth in minority admissions at top schools, both private universities and state flagships, has been driven in part by an overall explosion in applications there. Although the total number of students applying to college this year increased only slightly (though slightly more for Black, Hispanic and Asian students than white ones), the number of applications to top schools increased drastically across the board — by 43 percent to Harvard and 66 percent to M.I.T., for example.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, freshman applications rose by 28 percent, and even more for racial minorities — by 48 percent for African-Americans, by 33 percent for Hispanic students and by 16 percent for American Indian students.

The easing of the reliance on standardized tests, which critics say often work to the advantage of more educated and affluent families who can afford tutors and test prep, was most likely the most important factor in encouraging minority applicants.

Only 46 percent of applications this year came from students who reported a test score, down from 77 percent last year, according to Common App, the not-for-profit organization that offers the application used by more than 900 schools. First-generation, lower-income, as well as Black, Hispanic and Native American students were much less likely than others to submit their test scores on college applications.

Schools had been dropping the testing requirement for years, but during the pandemic a wave of 650 schools joined in. In most cases, a student with good scores could still submit them and have them considered; a student who had good grades and recommendations but fell short on test scores could leave them out. 

Most schools have announced that they will continue the test-optional experiment next year, as the normal rhythm of the school year is still roiled by the pandemic. It is unclear whether the shift foretells a permanent change in how students are selected.

Gabriella Codrington, 17, a Black student at Bard, a selective public high school in New York City, submitted her SAT score only to her “safety” schools, like the University of Delaware and Temple University, where she thought it would help her application. She withheld it from more selective schools like Harvard, Michigan, Stanford and N.Y.U., emphasizing her grades and resilience in the face of cancer, now in remission. “It definitely gave me a bit more relief,” she said of the test-optional policy.

Neither her father, a doorman, nor her mother, a sales associate, went to college. She has been admitted to N.Y.U.

Jaylen Cocklin’s family (his father went to a historically Black college and his mother to a Christian one) encouraged him to aim high. 

He “just grinded” for the SAT, he said, using a free online program, books and lessons on YouTube, and drove 45 miles because of the pandemic to take the first of two SAT tests. His score was high enough that he felt it would help him stand out at top schools, so he submitted it.

In his application essay, he wrote about the “struggle to be who I was” at A.C. Flora High School, in suburban Columbia, S.C. “I’ve been quite stereotyped by being African-American, the common stereotypes — thuggish, hoodish, looking down on what African-Americans can do,” he said.

But he also had to deal with being stereotyped as “whitewashed.” He wrote about his efforts to find a balance.

As students like Jaylen and Gabriella told their stories, admissions officers listened.

“You could tell the story of America through the eyes of all these young people, and how they dealt with the times, Black Lives Matter, the wave of unemployment and the uncertainties of the political moment, wanting to make a difference,” said MJ Knoll-Finn, senior vice president for enrollment management at New York University.

At N.Y.U., this year’s admitted class is about 29 percent Black or Hispanic students, up from 27 percent last year, and 20 percent first-generation students, up from 15 percent.

At Harvard, the proportion of admitted students who are Black jumped to 18 percent from 14.8 percent last year. If all of them enrolled, there would be about 63 more Black students in this year’s freshman class than if they were admitted at last year’s rate. Asian-Americans saw the second biggest increase, to 27.2 percent from 24.5 percent, which could be meaningful if a lawsuit accusing Harvard of systematically discriminating against Asian-Americans is taken up by the Supreme Court.

The percentage of Black students offered a spot at the University of Southern California rose to 8.5 percent from 6 percent, and Latino students to 18 percent from 15 percent.

Stu Schmill, dean of admissions at M.I.T., said the school did not release the breakdown of the admitted class because it was not the final enrolling class. “But I can tell you that there is a higher percentage of students of color this year than last,” he said.

A number of schools did not report admissions figures by race, instead reporting nonwhite “students of color” (including Asians) as a group, which generally showed an increase.

Once students actually accept an offer of admission and enroll, the diversity tally may look different, reflecting the difference between students admitted and where those students choose to enroll.

Some admissions experts worry that making standardized tests, like the SAT, optional will make it more difficult to select top students, especially at a time of widespread grade inflation. But when tests were required, “students were taking themselves out of the running,” said Cassie Magesis, director of post-secondary access for the Urban Assembly, a network of small schools that includes the one that Jianna Curbelo attends.

Admissions directors said that in the absence of test scores, they drilled deeper into not only high school grades, but also the rigor of courses taken in high school as well as personal essays and recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors.

Some hired a small army of application readers, like N.Y.U., which added 50 new readers, more than doubling its regular reading staff.

Even some admissions directors who think that standardized tests have been misused have mixed feelings about eliminating them altogether

“In some ways, I would say good riddance to the SAT,” said Joy St. John, dean of admission and financial aid at Wellesley College. “It feels like we just can’t stop gaslighting disadvantaged students.”

Still, she said testing could identify students who rose above their environment, or who excelled in certain subjects, like math and science. “There are aspects I will miss if we don’t have it,” she said. As imperfect as the process is, the admissions directors said they welcomed students taking a chance on challenging schools.

Ms. Knoll-Finn of N.Y.U. said. “Why not reach for the stars and see what you can get?”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/17/us/minority-acceptance-ivy-league-cornell.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Foundation for Black Communities seeks $200 million from federal budget to support Black-led charities

Interesting. During the Conservatives Community Historical Recognition Program, Canadian Ukrainians argued successfully for a World War 1 internment endowment, but for $10 million.

Their main argument was to provide greater flexibility in responding to proposals, which largely has been born out with reasonably transparency on the projects funded. It was easier for the government to agree, given that the Ukrainian Canadian community had an established foundation, the Taras Shevchenko Founcation, with a track record and established governance structures.

But $200m is a big ask:

Eugenia Addy remembers what it was like as a young Black girl in Toronto’s The East Mall, trying to envision her future.

“I grew up in one of the communities that we do work in, and really not being able to see myself represented anywhere on TV [or] in my textbooks,” Addy said. “So to really believe that I could be a scientist or an engineer was something that I literally had to dream about, because I couldn’t see it in reality.”

While pursuing her PhD in chemistry, she met Francis Jeffers, the founder of Visions of Science, an organization that brings interactive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming to kids in marginalized communities. Now as the CEO, Addy aims to open doors for others like her.

Umoja operates with just three staff members and a dedicated team of volunteers. Munyezamu says the organization is struggling financially to keep up with so many responsibilities.

“One thing I do every day is fundraising, fundraising, fundraising. Every month. We don’t know where we’re going to get the money for next month,” said Munyezamu.

Source: Foundation for Black Communities seeks $200 million from federal budget to support Black-led charities

Lisée – Et maintenant: l’endoctrinement [on federal antiracism training guide]

Jean-François Lisée picks up on Brian Lilley’s critique (LILLEY: Feds’ anti-racism training deals with political agendas, nothing else), albeit in a more sophisticated mannner:

Les fonctionnaires fédéraux ont-ils droit à la liberté de conscience ? Pour peu qu’ils soient respectueux des normes et des lois et de leurs collègues de travail, ont-ils droit à leurs propres opinions sur l’histoire de leur pays et sur l’état des relations raciales ? La réponse est désormais non. Il existe une doctrine d’État que les fonctionnaires doivent apprendre et internaliser, quelles que soient leurs expériences de vie ou leurs visions du monde. Un document fédéral officiel obtenu par le Toronto Sun grâce à la Loi sur l’accès à l’information est à la fois fascinant et scandaleux. Il s’agit du Parcours d’apprentissage dans le cadre de la lutte contre le racisme. La chose irait de soi si l’apprentissage en question portait sur les pratiques discriminatoires à éviter, les bienfaits des politiques d’accès à l’égalité, les normes, les recours et les sanctions. Mais le document s’attaque aux opinions qu’on peut avoir — et qu’on ne doit pas avoir — sur les causes, l’histoire et la définition du racisme. Les participants sont appelés à « apprendre, [à] désapprendre et [à] réapprendre ».

Par exemple, peut-être avez-vous la conviction que le Canada fut fondé sur une volonté de créer un pays distinct de l’expérience états-unienne, mettant en équilibre les intérêts de plusieurs anciennes colonies, dont le Québec francophone, et voulant maintenir un lien fort avec la couronne britannique ? Peut-être pensiez-vous que, parmi les graves imperfections du pays, il y eut la mauvaise part faite aux Autochtones et des pratiques répréhensibles envers des minorités de couleur ?

Si vous jugiez que, contrairement à l’impact structurel de l’esclavage dans l’histoire états-unienne, ces événements malheureux ne constituaient pas l’essence même de l’existence du Canada, l’État canadien vous rabroue officiellement. Vous êtes porteurs d’un « mythe » et de « déformation des faits historiques » qu’il faut désapprendre. La réalité, présentée comme un « fait » qui n’est pas ouvert au débat, est que le racisme est au cœur de l’expérience canadienne, un de ses fondements. L’existence même du Canada est une agression.

Trudeauiste bon teint, peut-être oserez-vous faire valoir que le multiculturalisme est une politique officielle depuis un demi-siècle et que le Canada est en passe de s’affranchir de son passé honteux ? Vous avez tort. Je cite : « Chaque institution était et est toujours utilisée pour prouver que la race existe et pour promouvoir l’idée que la race blanche est au sommet de la hiérarchie des races et que toutes les autres lui sont inférieures. » Chaque institution était et est toujours, en 2021, raciste. Et si vous tiquiez devant le concept de racisme systémique, cramponnez-vous, car la doctrine officielle a franchi un nouveau cap. Le document décrit ainsi la situation actuelle du racisme canadien : « Un groupe a le pouvoir de pratiquer une discrimination systématique au moyen des politiques et pratiques institutionnelles. » Oui, on est passés de systémique à systématique.

La doctrine vous rabroue doublement si vous osez procéder à des comparaisons avec les États-Unis sur le nombre des victimes ou sur l’intensité du dommage causé. Le document est explicite : « Le racisme est tout aussi grave au Canada. » Fin de la discussion. C’est un dogme.

Il y est aussi question d’esclavage, et le document prend bien soin d’indiquer que ce fléau fut répandu au Canada, y compris en Nouvelle-France, ce qui est vrai. Les fonctionnaires qui l’ignoraient peut-être sont aussi informés que les Autochtones furent victimes de l’esclavage. Mais le document omet de signaler que les nations autochtones pratiquaient l’esclavage entre elles avant l’arrivée des Européens, et après, et qu’elles ont participé à la traite des Noirs sur le continent. Je souhaite bonne chance au fonctionnaire qui oserait soulever ce fait historique lors d’une formation.

Puisque le racisme est défini étroitement, comme l’oppression d’une race par une autre, et jamais d’une ethnie par une autre, il n’est nulle part question du fait que les Britanniques, des Blancs, ont voulu déporter d’autres Blancs, des Acadiens, ou que les Canadiens français furent pendant deux siècles victimes de discrimination. Le colonialisme est un élément fondateur du pays (c’est incontestable), mais pas la Conquête (c’est loufoque). Notons que l’antisémitisme est aussi passé sous silence, un angle mort problématique dans la culture woke.

On y parle évidemment du privilège blanc, qui peut être personnel, institutionnel ou structurel, intentionnel ou non. Tous les fonctionnaires blancs doivent donc apprendre qu’ils sont, par défaut, coupables de racisme. C’est dans leur nature. Le caractère univoque et culpabilisateur de la formation est à couper le souffle.

Prenons un instant pour réfléchir à l’existence même de ce document officiel.

Nous avions entendu Justin Trudeau déclarer à plusieurs reprises qu’il avait, lui, la conviction que toutes les institutions canadiennes étaient coupables de racisme systémique. Il est rare que le premier ministre d’un pays accable ainsi la totalité des institutions qu’il a pour charge de diriger, de représenter et, au besoin, de réformer.

Mais bon, c’était son avis personnel. Que ces notions soient débattues dans les universités, dans les panels, à la radio ou dans les journaux est une chose. Mais il ne s’agit plus désormais d’opinions discutables parmi d’autres. Les fonctionnaires fédéraux sont désormais contraints de participer à des formations où on leur dit que cette vision du monde est la bonne, que c’est la ligne juste, et que s’ils pensent autrement, ils doivent désapprendre, pour mieux apprendre. Il s’agit ni plus ni moins que d’endoctrinement.

On voudrait savoir qui a décidé que la théorie critique de la race était devenue doctrine d’État ? À quel moment et dans quel forum ? Qui a acquiescé à cela ? Et surtout, comment infirmer cette décision absurde qui est une atteinte frontale à la liberté de conscience ?

Source: Et maintenant: l’endoctrinement

For immigrants like me, the ‘Great Pretend’ doesn’t work anymore

Good reflective piece:

My journey began 8,290 miles away, in India. I grew up in Mumbai, completed my studies, and first set foot in the United States as a young woman in my 20s. When I boarded that flight to California, I did so with my sister’s advice booming in my head: wear long sleeves to hide the henna ink from a recent wedding. But she was really making a bigger point: hide who you are, because they won’t understand you.

My sister’s advice was jarring but well-intentioned. The truth was, I didn’t even need the warning: already, for months, standing in front of my mirror practicing each night, I’d worked to stifle my Indian accent. It was the start of my journey as a performer –learning when and how to shed my identity, and trying to anticipate when it was safe to let my guard down and reveal my true self. I call it “the Great Pretend.”

I feel lucky that I’ve made America my home for many reasons. I’m blessed because I’ve been embraced by so many American mentors, leaders, colleagues and friends. I’m also blessed because only here would my story be possible. My naturalization ceremony 13 years ago was a deeply emotional experience, a moment of incredible belonging. But like so many immigrants, I have always cherished the fact that America wasn’t just a place but also an idea: unmatched possibilities ever in search of their own perfection, for new and next generations to write.

America, by definition, isn’t a finished product — it’s a high ideal purposefully set just out of reach so we can all, — generation by generation, help to pull the country ever closer to its founding ideals.

And for my daughters’ generation if not for mine, I’ve realized that I have some work to do, myself.

It starts with a confession. For all my years in America, I’ve been acting out “the great pretend” — the code-switching, concealing, and compromising that women like me have subjected ourselves to for decades, voluntarily. After 20 years, I wish I could say this daily ritual of cultural camouflage is gone, but it’s not. My Indian code-switching is now as much a part of my identity as the henna ink I’d once tried to hide from passersby in my new home.

But now I realize how important it is for all of us to shed those masks, to recognize the unique situations and unconscious biases experienced by multi-hyphenated professionals, so that we can all be better, do better and work together better.

The bottom line: empowering others begins by empowering yourself.

“The Great Pretend” doesn’t just encapsulate the actions many immigrants take to avoid making others uncomfortable. It’s the often unconscious and unintended– but nonetheless injurious –interactions with peers and even allies that we let go or let slide because we don’t want to rock the boat.

Act I. A cherished colleague compliments my work and my leadership, by suggesting “it must stem from” my “service-oriented culture.” Another colleague assumes I was skilled at math because I’m Indian. A new acquaintance mentions how “polite” Asian cultures are. And of course, there are the many times I walk into a meeting as a senior executive, and a stranger assumes that my younger and more junior, white male colleague is the senior leader and my boss.

Act II. I am invited to be among the feted at a summit celebrating powerful women. I enter the big ballroom to meet my fellow honorees. I feel instantly like a tiny drop of cocoa in a frothy blonde latté. The organizers have assembled us to celebrate a future which is decidedly female, but the participants are dominantly white and native born. How does this continue to happen in the United States when women of color will outnumber white women 53% to 44% by 2060?

Act III. I’m in a meeting of my peers, discussing a vexing issue, working to form a consensus. We think we’ve arrived at an answer. One of my colleagues invokes the old LIFE Cereal ad: “He likes it! Hey Mikey!” The room erupts in laughter, and I join in too. But in my head, unspoken, all I can think is: Who the heck is Mikey? Growing up in India, television was a once or twice a month luxury, usually a chance to see movies released years before in the United States.

1970s, nostalgic commercial pop culture is lost on me, as it is to many of the 17% of the American workforce who are foreign-born and raised. Isn’t it time our shorthand and colloquialisms evolve to include the nearly one in five workers who have lived something approximating my immigrant experience?

I want Act IV of my story to wrap up the plot with a twist: it’s time to stop acting — acting surprised, acting oblivious, or acting like someone else — to blend in.

Empowering ourselves means ending “the great pretend” and pointing out our perspectives to well-intentioned people—because it’s the only way we will all learn.

Empowering ourselves means incorporating the reality of intersectional identities — among increasingly heterogenous workplaces — into the core human relations and culture-building functions of any organization. Not because it’s politically correct, but because it benefits productivity and morale. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy like the mass shooting in Atlanta and the many other recent examples of anti-Asian violence for us to recognize that some life lessons need to be discussed openly — every day. Why? Very simply, because I want my Indian-American daughters to grow up knowing that pretending is never normal. And when the day comes, I don’t want them to wear long sleeves to cover the Henna drawing. I want them to write their story in bold ink the whole world can see and understand. That’s what we owe each other — and that’s what we owe the America we love.

Source: For immigrants like me, the ‘Great Pretend’ doesn’t work anymore

Wells: Emmanuel Macron, l’ENA, and the old weird France

Interesting take by Paul Wells:

We haven’t updated you on French President Emmanuel Macron in a while. It’s not going great. The next presidential election is a year away and polls suggest Macron could lose to Marine Le Pen, leader of the populist Ralliement National, the successor to her father Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National. The older Le Pen made it to the second round of presidential elections in 2002, the younger in 2017. Each time respectable opinion told French voters they must vote against Le Pen to save the Republic; both times voters did as they were told. The second time the result was Macron’s presidency. He can’t be sure it will work again. He’d become France’s third consecutive one-term president. His successor would open a can of worms. A belated sequel to Trump and Brexit.

Macron needs to get his mojo back. His choice of project is surprising. Last week he announced the closure of France’s École nationale d’administration, or ENA. It’s a graduate school for the bright young men and women who will form the senior ranks of France’s public service. Four of its graduates have become president. Nine have been prime minister. Countless others run government departments, city halls, banks, retail giants, museums. Because énarques (as ENA alumni are called) are so superbly adaptable—super-generalists, the Swiss army knives of the country’s management apparatus—they tend to flit from one job to another, with little apparent connection between positions except that each is the sort of job an énarque would have.

L’ENA is also the school Macron attended. The school that made his presidency possible, certainly the only thing that made his presidency possible. There’s drama in this assault on what made him. Something almost oedipal. It’s like when Ralph Klein had the Alberta hospital where he was born demolished. It’s as if Justin Trudeau had closed McGill University, or some ski lodge at Whistler, or whatever made him what he is today. Twenty-four Sussex? Actually, come to think of it, he has closed 24 Sussex. Hey, wait a minute…

But I digress. To an outsider, it’s hardly obvious why a stalled politician would close a fancy school. The answer hardly seems to match the question. The explanation lies in the distinctive place l’ENA occupies in the French cultural myth. As for why Macron would be the guy who’d decide to pull the trigger… well, therein lies a tale. For one thing, his reform project goes back quite literally to the day Macron graduated from the school 17 years ago.

This will take some telling. I’ve met a number of énarques. The school admits foreign students, so the odd Canadian gets in and graduates. French graduates sometimes find themselves posted to the stately French embassy on Sussex Drive, next door to 24. The current ambassador, Kareen Rispal, just won a prize for alumnae who dedicate themselves to advancing women’s rights. Énarques are, with no exception that I’ve met, cool, eloquent, poised in complex situations. Absolutely superb talkers, but not pushy. They know they’ll get their chance to shine. They always have. I once got invited to speak to alumni of the ENA and one of its main feeder schools, the Institut d’Etudes politiques de Paris, which I attended for a year on a lark ages ago. I’ve rarely been so nervous before a speaking gig.

To get into l’ENA, you have to pass a tough battery of written and oral exams on law, economics, public finances, current events, the European Union and more. Students typically study for a year at a prominent university simply to prepare for the exams. If you fail you’re free to try again the following year, but there is no other recourse or appeal. French higher education is bracingly unsentimental. One of Nicolas Sarkozy’s speechwriters famously failed the entry exam three times as a young man and has carried an epic grudge against the place ever since.

Students spend two school years at the school, divided between courses in Paris, courses at the seat of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and work terms in government departments. At the end, another brutal round of exams. If you finish in the top 15 of a class of 100-odd, you get to pick your spot in the most prestigious departments in government. Finish much lower and you may wonder whether l’ENA was worth the trouble.

The point of it all is that social connections are no help. You can’t survive all these tough exams because you come from the right family or you have the right accent. L’ENA was founded in 1945 as France crawled from the rubble of occupation and liberation. The old French civil service was like old bureaucracies everywhere: file clerks, stenographers and power brokers who landed jobs for life because they knew someone or had a cousin return a favour. A prewar minister of education, Jean Zay, came up with plans for a school to replace all this cronyism and inertia with something more merit-based. An elite public-service corps, chosen by merit and trained with care. But after the Nazi invasion Zay was arrested by the collaborationist Vichy regime for resisting the occupation and for being a Jew. In 1944 he was murdered by the Nazi-collaborating militia. Soon after France’s liberation Charles de Gaulle put Maurice Thorez, the former French Communist Party leader who’d become the minister for the public service, in charge of implementing Zay’s plan.

Within a decade the énarques were key to a highly-planned postwar economy. By the ’60s there were signs of resentment. For all its egalitarian inspiration, the school had a knack for collecting and promoting cohorts that looked a lot like the same old hereditary leadership class. In France as anywhere else, money buys tutors, quiet study time, and connections that shape your life before the entrance exam even if they don’t play a direct role after. That sense of resentment, of a reform that had entrenched privilege instead of erasing it, deepened over time.

Each graduating class at l’ENA holds a party early on to select a name for their promotion, or graduating class. It’s an emblem of the solidarity that comes from shared stress. The class of 1949 was the Promotion Nations unies, after the United Nations. Later classes named themselves after writers (Tocqueville, Proust) or politicians (de Gaulle, the ’70s West German Chancellor Willy Brandt). Some promotions achieve legendary status. The promotion Voltaire, class of 1980, was legendary: it produced a president, François Hollande; a presidential candidate, Hollande’s longtime partner Ségolène Royal; and a prime minister, Dominique de Villepin.

But then along came Macron, who arrived in 2002 and graduated in 2004. There were already magazine articles about Macron’s class at l’ENA before anyone suspected he would be a presidential candidate. The charming kid from the northern city of Amiens didn’t particularly stand out in a class of rapid climbers who moved into key posts in government and business soon after they graduated in 2004. Here’s the piece in French Vanity Fair from 2014. Twenty members of the class of 2004 were already chiefs of staff or senior advisors to government ministers, it says. Others ran insurance companies or worked at the United Nations. “Their names aren’t known to the general public but they constitute what must be considered a rising power network. And there’s no reason to think they’ll stop there, when it’s all going so well.” Much of the material for my own article, the one you’re reading, comes from Les Jeunes Gens, a book that the Vanity Fair article’s author, Mathieu Larnaudie, published after Macron’s 2017 election.

From their first days at l’ENA, the class of 2004 had a sense of themselves as a unique group, blessed—and tested—by their good fortune. Things were happening.

On April 21, 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen had been one of two winners in the first round of the country’s presidential election. He soon lost big to Jacques Chirac in the run-off, but the unprecedented breakthrough by a far-right populist seemed an unprecedented challenge to France’s Republican values. This was also the first class at l’ENA after Chirac abolished compulsory military service for young French men. A double cohort, comprising returning conscripts and men who’d never have to serve, swelled the class’s ranks (134 French students aiming for choice spots in the civil service, plus 51 international students) and made it more lopsidedly male than usual.

Finally, on Valentine’s Day 2003, France’s foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin (ENA 1980, promotion Voltaire) gave his speech at the United Nations opposing the Bush administration’s plans for war in Iraq. Here was France carving its own path, standing against the tide, putting Anglo-Saxon noses out of joint.

All these events seemed to pose questions to the young classmates: what’s France for in the world? What’s the nature of public service? Who owes what to whom in this world? The questions were all the more pressing because, looking around, it was pretty obvious to the bright young kids that many of them were born lucky and that the hard work had come later. One was the grandson of a legendary cabinet minister. Most came from prominent families. Their school was France’s highest-pressure meritocracy, but it wasn’t only that.

The class gave a hint that it might have a rebel streak when it came time to name itself. On a long, boozy night, a few surprising names for the promotion were proposed. One was “Les Héritiers,” after a 1964 book that described how France’s higher education system reinforced privilege instead of  opportunity. The group finally decided their class would be known forever as the promotion Léopold Sedar Senghor, after a Senegalese poet who, educated in Paris and elected to the prestigious Académie Française, became Senegal’s first democratically elected president.

But that gesture was nothing compared to the coup de théâtre the class of 2004 pulled off on the last day of school. Here was the moment when students would learn how they scored on the exams and the top 20 would have their pick of civil-service jobs. The highest-scoring student in the class—the major, in the lingo—was Marguerite Bérard, daughter of an énarque and another énarque, living with a classmate she would later marry, on her way to jobs as senior advisor to Sarkozy and then as a bank president. She accepted a handshake from the director of l’ENA and then handed him a 20-page manifesto, ENA: The Urgent Need for Reform, signed by 132 of the class’s 134 students. Emmanuel Macron, 6th in his class, was one of the signatories.

The surprise was complete. The school’s leadership was humiliated. The students all received letters from a French cabinet minister berating them for their cheek. They also received the jobs they wanted and the future the ENA had been built to deliver. But 17 years later, the most relentless and seductive and unstoppable member of the promotion Senghor is implementing the reform they called for on the day when it seemed they really could write their own future.

Will it make a difference? It’s hard to say. Macron has already announced that ENA will be replaced with a new Institute for Public Service, with more entry paths than the single round of brutal exams, but with the same exit ranking as the old school. Instead of going to central coordinating agencies of government, the new school’s top grads will have to get out into the country and work in departments that actually deliver services to citizens. My hunch is that to the great majority of French citizens, it’ll be a distinction without a difference: a factory for producing a leadership class that, after it finishes its stint on the ground, will go on to run everything else.

The option of replacing ENA with nothing—leaving France without a dominant dedicated public-service school, an absence that would make it more like Canada and a lot of other countries—seems not to have occurred to Macron. Old habits die hard, even in people who think they’re dedicated to change. I do hope Macron, or some other politician who shares a certain idea of France, beats the latest Le Pen next year. For all its quirks, indeed in most cases because of them, it’s still a great country.

Source: Emmanuel Macron, l’ENA, and the old weird France

TRREB to drop ‘master’ bedroom term, replace with ‘primary’ in coming months

More on the elimination of “master:”

Greater Toronto Area home hunters browsing through property listings will soon notice a change.

The organization will use the word “primary” in place of “master,” when referencing the main or principal bedrooms in homes in the coming months, said Toronto Regional Real Estate Board president Lisa Patel. “We know that words matter, and this is a step forward in rethinking outdated terms and modernizing the language used in the real estate industry,” TRREB said in a notice sent to realtors about the change.

The Ontario-based board is the latest in a string of real estate organizations to ditch terminology that is often seen as a reference to racism, sexism and slavery.

The Canadian Real Estate Association, for example, switched to using “primary” on Realtor.ca last October after a recommendation from the Real Estate Standards Organization.

“Concerns about potentially derogatory connotations have caused some groups to push to change the ‘master’ terms,” said RESO chief executive Sam DeBord in the recommendation. “While use of this terminology by real estate professionals has been reviewed and cleared of discriminatory violations … consumer and professional concerns have remained, prompting some marketplaces to use alternatives.”

While TRREB’s change has yet to come into effect, Royal LePage Estate Realty’s Asha Forrester was pleased with the decision. “It’s about time this was brought to light,” she said. “I think for people’s perceptions to change our narrative and our language needs to change too.”

Though many agents like Forrester have already been using “primary,” she has noticed some have yet to make the switch.

When they use “master,” she responds using “primary.” “It’s just a good step to start correcting people, when they do use that,” she said.

RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. real estate agent Desmond Brown was also in favour of the switch and believes it reflects how modern society is handling discrimination. “This new generation isn’t taking it anymore and I think that’s a good thing,” he said.

Brown sees the change as a sign of how language and attitudes evolve, but knows there will be some challenges as adoption happens.

“We’re still going to get some Realtors who are going to, you know, push back on this because… some people are just reluctant to change.”

TRREB’s change in terminology will apply to any entries in its MLS system, on TRREB.ca and on its Webforms platform, where realtors share forms with clients, Patel said in an email.

TRREB’s board of directors approved the change following a recommendation made by its diversity and inclusion committee.

Source: TRREB to drop ‘master’ bedroom term, replace with ‘primary’ in coming months

Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

Remember well the challenges Canadian Heritage’s historical recognition program uhad in working with the Italian Canadian representatives during my time there, as well as some of the academics who challenged the community narrative (Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad):

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue a formal apology next month for the treatment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War.

The government said in a news release that 600 Italian-Canadian men were interned in camps in Canada after Italy allied with Germany and joined the war in 1940.

Some 31,000 other Italian-Canadians were declared enemy aliens.

Trudeau told the House of Commons Wednesday that his government “will right these wrongs” by issuing a formal apology in May.

In 1988, Canada formally apologized and offered $300 million in compensation to Japanese-Canadians, 22,000 of whom were interned in camps during the Second World War.

Trudeau did not say whether there will be compensation for Italian-Canadians.

He announced plans for the apology in response to a question Wednesday from Liberal MP Angelo Iacono.

“During the Second World War, hundreds of Italian-Canadians were interned for the simple reason that they were of Italian heritage,” Iacono told the Commons.

“Parents were taken away from their homes, leaving children without their fathers in many cases and families without a paycheque to put food on their tables. Lives and careers, businesses and reputations were interrupted and ruined, and yet no one was held responsible.

“Italian Canadians have lived with these memories for many years and they deserve closure.”

Trudeau replied that Canadians of Italian heritage “deal with ongoing discrimination related to mistakes made by our governments of the past that continue to affect them to this day.”

“I’m proud to stand up and say that our government will right these wrongs with a formal apology in the month of May.”

The government’s news release said that in 1939, the Defence of Canada Regulations gave the justice minister the right to intern, seize property and limit activities of Canadian residents born in countries that were at war with Canada.

The regulations clearly targeted Canadians’ fear of “the foreign element,” and not a single person was ever charged with any crime, the release said.

In 2018, the RCMP issued a statement of regret for their involvement in the internment.

The government’s formal apology will pay tribute to and honour the families of each of the 600 interned as an act of respect and an acknowledgment that an injustice happened, the release said.

Canada is home to over 1.6 million Canadians of Italian origin, one of the largest Italian diasporas in the world, and they have made immeasurable contributions to the social, cultural and economic fabric of the country, the release added.

A joint statement from 10 Italian-Canadian members of Parliament, including Justice Minister David Lametti and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, said many residents suffered irrevocable harm.

“They may have been Italian by heritage, but they were Canadians first. We as Italian Members of Parliament thank those members before us who brought attention to this injustice and helped bring this apology to fruition for these families in our Italian-Canadian communities.”

Source: Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

As a Cultural War Continues to Cause Waves in France, Art Has Become a Lighthouse for Progressive Views

More of France’s “culture war,” this time with respect to the arts sector:

Accused of pandering to the far-right ahead of France’s federal election in 2022, President Emmanuel Macron attempted a balancing act. In January 2021, the leader’s party said it would create a “memories and truth” commission on France’s painful colonial history and war with Algeria. In March, it released a report on the positive contributions of individuals of immigrant backgrounds called “Portraits of France.”

These initiatives are part of a broader effort to find alternative solutions to growing demands for the removal of statues and street names honoring historical figures that are connected to France’s colonial past, including its slave trade. Yet, at the same time, Macron and some of his ministers have been igniting emotions as they publicly denounce forces that they see as stoking so-called “separatism,” including what many see as US-style political correctness and cancel culture—the latter of which is a largely unpopular but growing concept in France—as well as a perceived US-version of multiculturalism.

Recent events within and outside of France have further stoked this fire. The #MeToo movement has been met with uneven hostility. The October decapitation of a teacher who showed cartoons of the prophet Muhammad during a course on free speech has led to a new bill “against separatism,” which aims to combat Islamic radicalism. And the protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the US last year have prompted renewed conversation about the nature of racism in France, and put the country’s old ways of cultural assimilation on trial.

Against this backdrop of a culture war that shows little signs of abating, artistic projects remain a powerful place for progressive discourse in France—even as some factions in the country move to denounce what many have called an “importation” of America’s discourse on identity politics.

Art and Politics

As warring factions argue over how to integrate populations of citizens descended from former colonies, a new resurgent left, notably marked by young people from within the very populations at the center of the issue, has been pushing back against the country’s “universalist” social model, which traditionally downplays—some would say ignores—cultural differences between citizens. The traditional style of governance aims to avoid what is often viewed as an Americanized version of warring ethnic and religious groups.

In a Le Monde editorial from March, supporters of the president’s “Portraits of France” project said that playwrights, filmmakers, and painters should “seize upon these life stories and make works of art out of them that speak to our society and our world.” They added that “by ignoring a part of our shared past, we have made it harder to understand our present and to write our future.”

But these cultural in-roads are not always met with open arms. The executive branch of French government has specifically singled out academia, including the social science fields of post-colonial and intersectional studies, saying that these areas are under risk of influence from radical agendas that are pitting communities against each other. It also announced in February a sweeping investigation into the presence of “Islamo-gauchisme”—a term loosely referring to extreme-left activists who are “complacent” toward radical forms of Islamism or who apologize for terrorism—in universities. As a result, many are worried about censorship in schools and that scholarly research into the darker chapters of France’s history is under threat.

This debate spewed over into the art world when a government-commissioned portrait series of women publicly displayed in March in Paris, which was designed to celebrate diversity by featuring images of professionals from an array of different fields, sparked a vicious response. The photographs in “109 Mariannes” became fodder for controversy due to the inclusion of the young astrophysicist Fatoumata Kébé who was singled out for her headscarf. Angered that Kébé was chosen to emblematize “Marianne,” the personification of the French Republic often seen interpreted in art or on stamps, former spokesperson for the right-leaning Republican party, Lydia Guirou, was among the angry tweeters: “Marianne is not and will NEVER wear the headscarf!”

The sentiment dovetails with a draft bill that the Senate amended this month to forbid chaperones on school field trips from wearing Muslim headscarves. The bill has been strongly criticized for stigmatizing Muslims and called an overreach of France’s already strict secular laws, which forbid the wearing of clearly visible religious symbols in schools, and by civil servants.

The Faces of the Republic

Despite instances of incendiary reactions, the cultural sphere is being won over by a new wave of progressive viewpoints and views are indeed changing. A younger generation has become eager to more openly focus on the topic of race and difference. French citizens of immigrant descent are raising their voices to say that, in practice, their identities are under-represented in a society that discriminates against them for their inherent differences. With a sense of irony, they describe a society which claims to be blind to those differences while demanding that any outward signs of that difference—for example, hijabs—are avoided, to best fit a cultural mold.

“We like the idea of ‘universalism,’ because it’s a kind of utopia… But it’s easier to go to Mars than to the land of universalism,” Nadine Houkpatin told Artnet News. She is co-curator with Céline Seror of a show that includes work by artists from Africa and its diaspora called Memoria: accounts of another History that is on view until November at the Frac-Nouvelle Acquitaine MECA in Bordeaux. Houkpatin notes that while a new generation has indeed been “inspired” by some of the “woke” political ideas stemming from the US, the theorists behind many of these left-leaning ideas are often of French origin.

The curators of the Bordeaux show surmise that, when it comes to discussing these issues through art, people have an easier time accepting more progressive, controversial topics. “I think that through art, we can address these questions that are essential,” said Seror. Art “gives a certain liberty that enables us to express ourselves about these subjects,” she added.

Indeed, it seems that the art world has been somewhat shielded: Responses were overwhelmingly positive to the two shows, despite the debates going on in the public realm. The show at Musée d’Orsay even received a nod from a critic who supports the government’s investigation into academics. “I saw the exhibition, and very much appreciated it,” said Nathalie Heinich, a sociologist who has published work on contemporary art.  She is in favor of the French government’s recent stance against “radical” intellectual currents “that come from elsewhere” and a signatory in an editorial in Le Monde that described them as “feeding a hatred for ‘whites.’”

Pap Ndiaye, the historian and new director of France’s immigration museum, the Palais de la Porte-Dorée, recently told reporters that he too is concerned by the pushback on academia. “It comes at a moment when post-colonial and intersectional questions are beginning to find their very small space in French universities,” he said. “If we stop teaching them, where will the students go?” The Paris museum he oversees is currently showing an exhibit on the immigrant experience that includes 18 artists from Africa and its diaspora—it is a poignant exploration of artistic diversity and it falls on the 90th anniversary of the museum, which infamously opened with an exhibition to celebrate the colonies and included human exhibits.

The title of the show at Ndiaye’s museum, “Ce qui s’oublie et ce qui reste,” which translates to “What is forgotten and what remains,” also seems to ask what traces of this dark past remain in the popular subconscious today. It is on view until July.

While the government and certain factions of the population continue to rail against the universities, art institutions are set to become an increasingly singular voice for pressing questions about post-colonialism in France. “When an artist presents [their work] in a museum that is open to the public, then we can start talking about colonialism, decolonization, and its impact on society,” said curator Seror. “That’s the power of art.”

Source: As a Cultural War Continues to Cause Waves in France, Art Has Become a Lighthouse for Progressive Views