Does LIP Really Respect Immigrants & What is Actually Needed to be
Done for Immigrants?
The following is a very critical article about the Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), which explains how this organization misuses most of the money that it obtained from the federal government to support immigrants, by diverting it to help educate employers and service providers that discriminate or likely to discriminate immigrants.
Since this is a critical article, before publishing it, I submitted it to the project manager of the LIP for his comments. This also provided the LIP with an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies. However, the LIP did not provide any comments so far.
Below, I have copy pasted the email I sent to the Project Manager of the LIP. The critical article about LIP follows this letter.
Dear Mr. Alex Goss,
I am required by The Ethics Guidelines of Canadian Association of Journalists to provide “people, companies or organizations that are publicly accused or criticized opportunity to respond before” publishing “those criticisms or accusations.” The same Ethics Guidelines also requires me to inform readers or audience if I do not receive comments from the concerned person or organization.
The Ontario Press Council allowed “much broader latitude of opinion” for those that wrote opinion pieces. I exercised this right to write an article on LIP. Since this is critical about LIP, I am giving you the opportunity to comment on that. I will include your comment as well in this article. If I find and believe that there are some inaccuracies in my article, I may correct it.
Please review the attached article and provide your comments. I will be waiting for your comments until this Friday (Oct 09, 2015). If I do not get your comments by then, I will mention that in my article and publish it. This piece may also be used in my Radio Broadcast.
When it comes to paid position, the Guelph Wellington Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) offered them to non-immigrants, predominantly the whites. For the immigrants they offered unpaid volunteer positions. Recently, the LIP might have hired a visible minority, but that happened after I exerted enormous pressure on the LIP and the City. LIP wanted the immigrants to work for them and wanted immigrants’ inputs and expertise, but wanted to keep the paid position and decision making power among the non-immigrants, predominantly the whites.
In a nutshell, the paid positions are for non-immigrants, predominantly the whites, and the unpaid volunteer positions are for immigrants, predominantly the visible minorities. However, in the Leadership Council, most of the membership positions are for non-immigrants, predominantly the whites, and there is a reason for that.
All the decisions of LIP regarding immigrants and immigrant issues are made by the paid staff and the Leadership Council. Therefore, the LIP ensures higher representation of non-immigrants, predominantly the whites in the paid position and Leadership Council to keep the decision making power with them and to have control over the immigrants while enabling them to continue earning money on immigrants’ issue. It is very likely that none of the training, received by the LIP team taught them on how to empower and include immigrants and visible minorities in the decision making process oftheir own issues. It also appears that power holders at LIP also did not learn how to support minority groups by just maintaining allyship with them and taking advisory roles.
The Leadership Council is composed of around two thirds of non-immigrants, predominantly the whites. It is not easy for immigrants to get a membership in the Leadership Council. For example, when I requested for a membership, I was told that the needs of diverse skillsets for the Council should be considered before I could be allowed to be a member, and that I could attend the Leadership Council meetings as a guest. As a Guest, I did not have the right to vote and participate in the decision making process.
The LIP is following a paternalistic approach towards immigrants. They treat the immigrants as they do not know to make decisions for themselves. At LIP, the decisions are made by the majority non-immigrants, predominantly the whites, on matters related to immigrants and immigrants’ issues. The self-determination of immigrants is not recognized. This is the exactly same attitude the settlers had on the First Nations, Metis and Inuit. The settlers made them wards of the state and made all the decisions for them. Despite many centuries have passed and many awareness campaigns were launched this kind of condescending attitudes have not changed in some white community with their perceived supremacy.
On the one hand, the LIP claims that immigrants’ foreign credentials are not recognized; immigrants are not able to find jobs to match their skill level; they are unemployed or underemployed; and that they are working to promote Meaningful Employment to immigrants. On the other hand, the LIP and the City themselves are not able to recognize foreign credentials of the immigrants and provide Meaningful Employment to them. I do not know if, so far, the LIP or the City hired somebody only for their foreign experience.
LIP identifies the following as priorities for immigrants:Meaningful Employment, Entrepreneurship & Business, Service Coordination & Access, and Awareness & Inclusion. The LIP is allegedly working on these priorities, yet most of them are Human Rights related.
Immigrants have the right to be free from discrimination as provided by the Charter Rights and Human Rights Code. The LIPdoes not need to put the organizations on the higher levels and beg them on behalf of immigrants to consider immigrants’ applications and to include immigrants in their workforce or provide services to them. Immigrants are entitled to their right to be free from discrimination without making extra efforts. It is not the immigrant’s responsibility to educate employers and service providers on their Code obligation to respect the immigrants’ right to be free from discrimination. OHRC and other legal education programs do that. And, in fact, employers and service providers are also required to arrange regular training from their budget for their employees and ensure Human Rights are respected and Code protected individuals including immigrants are treated without discrimination. The LIP, by asking the employers on behalf of the immigrants to provide equal consideration to immigrants’ job applications and service requests only increases those employers’ sense of superiority over the immigrants. Immigrants are not required to allow someone make money for themselves by doing this kind of work.
As I explained, the affected/vulnerable immigrants are not at all required to educate the employers to abide by the Code and respect immigrants’ freedom from discrimination. The immigrants’ money, the money funded for the benefit of immigrants, should not be wasted to educate the employers on what the employers had to do in compliance with the Code. There are mechanisms to make the employers and service providers comply with the Code and there are remedies available for immigrants when the employers or service providers breach their freedom from discrimination.
Therefore, a service for immigrants should focus more on empowering immigrants by informing immigrants on their right to be free from discrimination, the mechanisms available for them to make the employers and service providers comply with the Code, the supports available for them to make the employers or service providers comply with the Code and the remedies available for them if their freedom from discrimination is violated by an employer or a service provider.
The immigrants’ money should be put in good use for immigrants to empower and support them, but not to support the employers and service providers that discriminate immigrants and escape from accountability because of the lack of voice of the immigrants and minority groups. Under the Code, lack of education is not a defense for discriminating. It is another reason, why the immigrants’ money should not be diverted to educating or negotiating on what the employers and service providers have to do under the Code. Also, the immigrants’ money should not be allowed to help some non-immigrants, predominantly the whites, earn easy money without producing any real benefit to the immigrants’ on their priority issues.
The LIP claims that they support the local organizations that support immigrants. The local organizations are doing well without LIP. The Local organizations took good initiatives and supported the immigrants well even before the LIP was formed. They are good to run even without the support of the LIP. However, the LIP wants to pretend that they are also part of their program by having meeting with them and preparing reports. The immigrants would not want their money to be wasted like this. My readers, audience and other grassroots organizations often complain to me about the lack of progress and dynamic of the LIP. They confided in me because they believe I could be a voice for them.
Unfortunately, the non-immigrants, predominantly the whites, who have an iron grip on the power, would not step down. This wrong leadership and the wrong people will not identify the priorities of the immigrants and will not address them. They would rather maintain status quo and pretend that they are also part of the ongoing work of other community organizations. If they are to support immigrants, they should let those passionate and experienced immigrants take leadership role, identify priorities and address their own issues. Those multiple stakeholders and the interested non-immigrants and the whites may still maintain allyship with the immigrants and may take the advisory role, but not the decision making role, on immigrants and immigrants’ issues. But, it is less likely that the predominantly white non-immigrants that run the LIP would be willing to hand over their power to immigrants.
Compared to the LIP, the Immigrant Services Guelph-Wellington, which is mostly composed of immigrants, is doing a great job to the immigrant community on a highly measurable scale despite having challenges with their expertise on Media and Public Relations. In contrast, the LIP is doing the work that is not even required and duplicates the services provided by other community organizations and the University of Guelph. Its likely intention is to keep it alive while enabling some people to earn money on the immigrants’ issue.
It is the grassroots organizations that do the work that the LIP fails to do for the immigrants. The LIP takes a paternalistic approach towards immigrants and ensures that the power remains with non-immigrants, predominantly the whites, to make decisions about immigrants and immigrants’ issue. Again, it is the same way as how settlers treated First Nations, Metis and Inuits by making them wards and making decisions for them. It is sad such supremacy still exists in some white community in the LIP and the City.
The LIP follows a partnership model. All its partners should pay their share for the harm done to immigrants by the LIP. The LIP partnership includes over 45 organizations. The public would significantly benefit if all these partners are held accountable.
If the money that sits with the LIP is shared with the grassroots organizations, they could achieve more to the immigrant community. What is the LIP doing is a systematic discrimination against immigrants. LIP and its partners should acknowledge their faults and, as a remedy, return all the immigrants’ fund that they exploited so far or, to the equivalent, they should fund and share resources with the projects of grassroots organizations that help empower, bring equity and create opportunities for immigrants.