Jul 17 2014


By Desmond Cole, project coordinator of City Vote

Just over a year ago, Toronto city council asked the province to let permanent residents vote in municipal elections. It was a big victory for advocates like myself, and for the thousands across Toronto who believe local elections need to be more inclusive and representative. We called that campaign I Vote Toronto, and gathered dozens of community organizations and thousands of residents under its banner.

Since that historic vote, Torontonians may not have heard much about the city’s request, which the province received and promised to consider. But in fulfilling its local mission, I Vote Toronto also inspired municipalities across Ontario and the country to begin debating and considering the idea of permanent resident voting in local elections. Our success has inspired others to imagine change where they live.

Last fall, city staff in North Bay, Ontario, recommended that permanent residents be included in its municipal elections. The city of about 65,000 residents is one of few places in the province where immigration rates are on the rise. Advocates like Don Curry of the North Bay and District Multicultural Centre believe those residents should be voting. “They are paying their share but do not have a voice,” Curry told the North Bay Nugget in September 2013.

In March 2014, a group commissioned by the City of Kitchener also recommended that permanent residents receive local voting rights. “Why not give people that are committed to coming to our country a chance to be part of the process,” councillor Dan Glenn-Graham told the CBC. Glenn-Graham is now running for mayor of Kitchener, and he and other local allies can bring this issue to voters on the campaign trail.

The city of Saint John, New Brunswick, added its voice to the cause in January 2014, when the Common Council formally asked premier David Alward to extend the municipal vote to permanent residents. A letter from Saint John mayor Mel Norton stated that extending the vote would make his government more democratic and accountable. In an exciting turn of events I could not have anticipated a year ago, New Brunswick may even grant the extension before Ontario does.

Every municipality that has taken up this issue in the last year has made reference to the successful vote at Toronto city hall. We made an important stride towards change, but we are by no means alone in our desire to give newcomers a stronger voice in their local communities. There are several important ways we can continue to build on this momentum.

Bid to unite campaigns

First of all, we must unite these local campaigns, all of which have sprung up organically through the work of concerned community organizations, advocacy groups and elected officials. To that end, we have created City Vote, a campaign to support advocacy for permanent resident voting in municipalities all across Canada. We will share resources, ideas, stories, and updates on this movement as it continues to grow.

We must also take advantage of the upcoming municipal elections across Ontario. Candidates for mayor, city, council and school trustee will be knocking on doors in their communities. Of course, we hope they will endorse the growing calls for permanent resident voting. But at the very least, we will urge them to inform residents who cannot vote about City Vote. By the end of this year, we will have identified residents from all corners of the province who want to make our elections more inclusive.

Finally, we must connect with and support groups who are currently engaging other critical advocacy for newcomers. Earlier this year, the city of Hamilton proclaimed itself a sanctuary city – in other words, the city committed to ensure that every resident, regardless of immigration status, has access to city services. It is no coincidence that a similar proclamation in Toronto preceded the successful motion on permanent resident voting. City Vote must situate itself within the broader movement to ensure newcomers have equal rights and opportunities in Canada.

Thankfully, the campaign has a history of strong partnerships within this larger newcomer-serving community. Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, a multi-service community hub in central Toronto, incubated the campaign in 2008 and helped it grow. Maytree has been supporting policy development and hosting forums on the issue since 2007. Groups as large as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and as small as warden Woods Community Centre have offered their time, energy and support. The foundation for growth is solid and diverse.

You’ll hear from me again soon for the official launch of City Vote. Meanwhile, I’ll be working to solidify the new connections I’ve made in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and all across Ontario. What a difference a year makes!

Jul 09 2014
Karl Subban, father of Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban, says “playing together supports my belief that sport has the power to unite, embrace cultures and enrich communities.”

Karl Subban, father of Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban, says “playing together supports my belief that sport has the power to unite, embrace cultures and enrich communities.”

Maria, a new Canadian citizen from Romania, is an avid tennis fan. On settling down in Canada, she was thrilled to have a tennis club across the street from where she lived. But it took her two years to work up the courage to join it.

“Because they were looking so, you know, so Canadian, so [at ease] in their own thing there. I never dressed in a skirt, for example. Just cultural difference, you know? Every woman had [a] short skirt and equipment, very nice equipment, and I usually play like, not so well dressed,” Maria told a focus group of a national study exploring new citizens’ participation in sports.

Her hesitation to take part in sport is one of the insights uncovered by the study Playing together – new citizens, sports & belonging (PDF) released by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) on July 8, 2014. “This study sheds light on the important role sports can play in effective integration if we focus our attention on removing the structural barriers to new citizens’ ability to participate in Canada’s sporting life, ” said Gillian Smith, ICC Executive Director & CEO. “The earlier, the faster we start playing together, the more inclusive and better our society would be.”

With immigration rapidly changing Canada’s demographic profile, it’s more important than ever to listen to new citizens’ perspectives on how Canada can accelerate their path to full inclusion, said Smith. “Our study is focused on new citizens rather than new immigrants because they have more bandwidth to engage with their new country after the initial frenzy of settling down. They now simply want an invitation to play.” The survey includes firsthand accounts from more than 4,000 new citizens collected online and through focus groups.

Closing the gap

The ability of sports to speed up the process of being part of a national conversation was also reemphasized by Karl Subban, father of Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban. “An airplane moved us to Canada and hockey moved us from new Canadians to Canadians,” said Subban, who was present at the launch event to share his family’s remarkable story. “Hockey has defined my family as individuals and as Canadians. Playing together supports my belief that sport has the power to unite, embrace cultures and enrich communities.”

Subban said new Canadians must put in the extra effort to know more about the national passion for hockey without having to give up their passion for other sports. “The earlier we are able to fit in, the more productive we are as individuals and as a society. We simply need to get in the game.”

Survey respondents said that sport, as a natural and universal connection point, was more welcoming than many other social structures, including the workplace. It also helped them learn the Canadian social landscape and soft cultural skills, while offering access to informal, but vital, social networks.

Locker room wisdom

For many, sport was the starting point for deeper discussions about politics, culture and history. As one survey respondent put it, “[The] locker room is a great place to learn about Canada!” Some others joked that you “score points” with Canadians if you get enough “hockey sense” to pretend to know what you are talking about. Others wanted to participate for the sake of their children’s integration. A participant in a French focus group said, “I want to participate, to go to a hockey game…for my kids to know, to understand what hockey really is about and for them to really have a taste of what being a Canadian athlete truly means.”

Among the new citizens surveyed, 69% of those who played sports within their first three years in Canada believed it helped them learn about Canadian culture. They recognize hockey’s connection to Canadian identity and 71% had “some interest” in watching the sport. Approximately one quarter said they don’t follow baseball or football because they aren’t familiar with the rules. Running (39%), swimming (32%), cycling (26%), soccer (18%), badminton (12%) and tennis (11%) are the top sports they regularly played. More than half have tried a new sport once and are open to playing Canada’s winter sports.

While 44% of survey respondents have children who play organized sports, only 6% have their kids in mainstream Canadian sports like hockey or baseball/softball.

New citizens love Team Canada as more than half watch the Summer and Winter Olympics. In the survey they also shared their ideas about how Canada’s sports organizations can get them into the game, suggesting opportunities to try winter sports for free and creating a Canadian sports welcome package.

Citing the ICC’s Cultural Access Pass that provides free admission to many of Canada’s cultural treasures as a model, Smith said her organization was more than willing to broker free or subsidized sporting opportunities for Canada’s newest citizens. “This study shows us just how easy playing together could be if we remove the assumption that everyone knows how it’s done,” she said citing lack of clear information about how one gets involved in organized sports as one of the systemic barriers new citizens face.



Jun 25 2014


The lack of diversity among superior court judges in Canada that made headlines recently has been flagged before by several studies. In reported comments, Peter MacKay, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, has been anecdotal on why there is a lack of women on federally appointed court benches while being silent on why the number of visible minority judges is so low.

Minister MacKay’s inability to offer insight into an opaque process that produces a demographically skewed judiciary may stem from lack of official data. While we know that female judges account for 382 out of 1,120 federal judges, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs does not track the numbers of visible minority appointees. The Canadian Bar Association, in an assessment of the procedures for the appointment of judges, has identified the lack of data about representation of visible minorities in the judiciary as a major barrier to progress.

According to a Globe and Mail and University of Ottawa analysis, in the past five and a half years Ottawa appointed just a handful of non-white judges out of the nearly 200 first-time justices it has named to the bench. Improving Representation in the Judiciary: A Diversity Strategy,  a study released by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute in 2012, revealed that while some progress has been made with female representation, it remains stalled in the case of visible minorities. Just 2.3% of the federally appointed judges analyzed based on a sample of 221 were visible minorities.

There is a higher percentage of visible minority judges among Ontario’s appointees. In a sample of 138, 10.9% are visible minorities compared to 15% of practicing lawyers in the province. The better representation could be partly attributed to the differences in the appointment processes between the federal and provincial courts.

More open and transparent process

While not perfect, the Ontario Court of Justice requires a broadly constituted appointments committee that reflects the diverse population of the province, the Diversity Institute study said. The process is also made more open and transparent by announcing and advertising vacancies and reaching out to communities. In contrast, the study found the federal process appeared to be less transparent, with decision-making more concentrated in the hands of politicians.

The Diversity Institute research, part of a large multi-year study, builds on an earlier examination commissioned by the Maytree-Civic Action DiverseCity Counts project. That report, released in 2011, showed just 6.8% of leaders in the Greater Toronto Area legal sector were visible minorities, relative to 49.5% of the population studied. Judges, justices of the peace, governing bodies, law school leaders, partners in the top 20 law firms and crown attorneys in the area were included in the study. It reinforced an earlier report that showed only 14.4% of practicing lawyers in the area were visible minorities.

Previous research also suggests that barriers to entry persist in law firms. The Canadian Association of Black Lawyers has said legal professionals from the community do not have equal access to articling and post-call positions in corporate and commercial law firms. Immigrant lawyers, particularly visible minorities, also find it difficult to get their credentials recognized. They face barriers to advancement and are frequently offered non-permanent contract positions with fewer leadership opportunities.

As judicial appointments are inherently political processes relying heavily on informal networks for nominations, visible minorities are less likely to have access to them. This very lack of diversity throughout the path makes the likelihood of finding visible minorities in positions that lead to judicial appointments more difficult.

What this implies is that not only does the problem increase as we move up the value chain, but lower down, the reservoir of talent that supplies the federal courts doesn’t reflect Canada’s changing demographics, either.

Diversity at the top of the legal profession is a social imperative as lawyers and judges are in the forefront of advocacy and social change. The federal government should take the lead to ensure fair representation in a sector that is critical to our democratic society. It could start by establishing clear diversity goals, tracking the number of diverse appointees, and establishing a more open and transparent process.

Jun 23 2014


Adrian is proud of his eight-year old son’s facility with English and his general ease in adapting to the ways of his new Canadian surroundings. “He is now our family’s interpreter when we visit our doctor,” says the newcomer father from Romania. What he doesn’t know is that his case is not unique. His son is among the horde of children doing a task they shouldn’t be doing.

Health care providers and managers say this is not an ideal situation as children might be getting exposed to health information about their parents that they either can’t comprehend or isn’t appropriate for them to know.

With various studies conducted over the past few years indicating that language is an enormous barrier for many newcomers when accessing healthcare, iamsick.ca, a social enterprise, has come up with a solution to bridge the gap. “With the support of the broader community, we are leveraging Canada’s diversity to reduce barriers through web and mobile technology,” says Ryan Doherty, its president and co-founder.

Using publicly available data, the site provides a curated listing of all emergency rooms, urgent care centres, walk-in clinics, and pharmacies. It also helps you find physicians and pharmacists who speak your language. The service, currently available only in Ontario, has a database of healthcare providers who can speak 25-plus languages other than English or French.

“Translation can be expensive and not accessible. It’s common to have children of immigrants translating for their parents on medical issues,” Dr. Meb Rashid, clinical director of the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto was quoted as saying in the Toronto Star. “You do need a more sophisticated command of the language. Something like this, that acknowledges the difficulty in language access, is a tremendous help.”

Expanding into British Columbia

Fresh from a crowd funding campaign that raised over $3,000 but fell short of the $9,000 goal, Ryan, a University of Toronto Medical Biophysics doctoral candidate, was optimistic of expanding into British Columbia by July. The west coast province was selected as it received most votes from supporters of the fundraiser.

“While reaching our funding target would have allowed us to expand quicker, it isn’t holding us back from our vision of leveraging technology to help everyone access healthcare in Canada,” says Ryan.

He and his multi-disciplinary team, that includes tech advisor and co-founder Sherry-Lynn Lee, are now looking at establishing more partnerships with healthcare providers and organizations.

“Later this year, we will be piloting a few new features that focus on access beyond just awareness. They are related to family medicine and will improve same-day and after-hours access to family doctors.”

One-stop resource

Initially the online guide was just a locator for nearby health facilities with information on opening hours. The team came up with the idea in 2012 when some of their fellow University of Toronto friends complained about not knowing where to go when the campus clinic closed.

Even as a simple locator it had its uses. “It was a one-stop resource for answering ‘Where?’” says Jemy Joseph, a University of Ottawa medical student, from her clinical experience. “Even during a rotation in Moose Factory [a very remote island in Ontario], I was able to tell my patients when the pharmacy was open!”

It was only this spring that the language filter was added to the website. Ryan estimates a potential audience of more than 700,000 users across Canada who could use an interpreter due to language barriers in healthcare.

Apart from language and the dangers involved in using children and youth as interpreters, there are other gaps the iamsick.ca project could help bridge. These include cultural differences brought about by ethnicity, a care provider not knowing how to use an interpreter appropriately, a lack of reliable professional interpreter services, and lack of printed information in the patient’s first language.

Jun 20 2014
Olaf Scholz (Hamburg), Melinda Crane (Berlin), Jussi Pujunen (Helsinki), Raquel Castañeda-López (Detroit)

Mayors Panel at the 2014 Cities of Migration conference in Berlin – from left to right: Olaf Scholz (Hamburg), Melinda Crane (Berlin), Jussi Pujunen (Helsinki), Raquel Castañeda-López (Detroit) Photo: stephan-roehl.de, CC BY-SA 3.0.

One mayor wrote letters to immigrants urging them to become naturalized citizens. Another saw newcomers as harbingers of fun in his very functional city. The 2014 Cities of Migration Conference heard them both and wants others to know how leadership matters to cities.

As the level of government closest to the people, city administrations can directly and immediately impact the lives of immigrants. The panelists on the discussion about Re-imagining the City, convinced the Berlin audience that mayoral voices can be a particularly powerful tool to ease the path to inclusion for newcomers.

A good case study is the personal interest shown by Olaf Scholz, Hamburg’s First Mayor, to help the German city make a success of its “Ich bin Hamburger” naturalization campaign.

“Seven thousand immigrants became citizens last year, double the figure of 2009,” said Scholz who believes citizenship is the key to inclusion for long-time residents. “Naturalization is much more than an administrative act. It is the declared belief in our state and our society.”

Human touch

Jussi Pajunen, the mayor of Helsinki, is proud of the personalized integration plan his city offers immigrants. “Every person is treated as an individual by the one-stop-shop service that offers mentoring and guidance with regular follow-ups,” said Pajunen. “The information centre for immigrants is kept open seven days a week at the city hall. It also sends a message to others that immigrants are a positive force in Finnish society.”

As equality is a cherished Nordic value, it is easier for his city to push the idea of shared prosperity by helping immigrants integrate. As the largest employer in Finland with more than 40,000 employees, the city can also be a role model for other employers in newcomer recruitment and development.

Both Scholz and Pajunen were happy with the attention they received from immigrants. “They greet me on the street to ask how I got their names and addresses to write them letters,” said Scholz. To which Pajumen added: “While locals ignore their mayors, immigrants love and respect them.”

The Helsinki mayor said that while information and communication technology made it easy to identify people, the human touch as espoused by his Hamburg counterpart was essential to address immigrant issues. “We need a person to talk to another person.”

‘Immigrants = more jobs’

Also contributing to the discussion was fellow panelist Raquel Castañeda-López, Council member from Detroit. Representing a U.S. city which has seen better times, she outlined the steps taken to revive it, the most important being ways to attract immigrants to come and invest. “Immigrants tend to open more small businesses, which leads to more jobs,” she said.

Detroit is on a steep learning curve as specialized services for immigrants are non-existent at present. While her city is not able to offer personalized services like its European peers due to budget constraints, it is setting up a virtual office, said Castañeda-López.

“We are keen on starting a new conversation and are learning from New York, which has done a good job in helping immigrants, and are joining the Welcoming America initiative,” said the councilor who represents a district that houses the majority of her city’s immigrant communities.

Watch the full panel to get more insights from the discussion moderated by Melinda Crane, Chief Political Correspondent, Deutsche Welle, Berlin. The panelists were also asked questions via video by Naheed Nenshi, mayor of Calgary, Canada, and Lianne Dalziel, mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Jun 19 2014

Globe being held by hands

Over three years into civil war in Syria, and with conflicts ballooning elsewhere, notably in Iraq and the Central African Republic, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will focus on stories alongside the numbers to mark World Refugee Day. The annual day of global awareness on refugees, this Friday, June 20, is themed “1 family torn apart by war is too many” and some of those families tell their stories here.

Stories move people in ways that numbers do not. Stories are emotional, and research on human behaviour shows that our emotions have a major influence on our decisions, even to the point of irrationality. Our rational minds know that 9 million Syrians forced from their homes is a tragedy, but we may be more likely to act after hearing Mohamad recount how he fled Aleppo, and list all that vanished save for one thing: “I am grateful that my family is together and safe. I can get a new shop or a new house, but I would be lost without my family.”

We gasp at 9 million, but we want to help Mohamed.

Because stories give context and stir empathy, Maytree too uses stories to spread good ideas. One developing project is a book on the extraordinary escape of refugees to Canada, called Flight and Freedom (co-authored by Ratna Omidvar and Dana Wagner). The idea is to debunk myths on the “legitimate refugee” and challenge a closing Canadian refugee system. The vehicle is true and deeply personal stories of escape by refugees, both old and new Canadians.

Maytree also uses stories to spread good ideas in integration and inclusion of refugees found in cities around the world, from London to Wuppertal to Auckland, through the Cities of Migration project. If an idea works in one city, it can work in another. Stories help make replication happen.

Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada is coming in 2015. Learn more.

Here are a few ways to spread refugee stories to your network this week:

Jun 19 2014
Podium discussion at the 8th Annual Immigrant Success Awards with Gordon Nixon (CEO of RBC) and Ratna Omidvar (President of Maytree)

Gordon Nixon (CEO of RBC) and Ratna Omidvar (President of Maytree)
during a podium discussion at the 8th Annual Immigrant Success Awards.

By Sandhya Ranjit, TRIEC

Ever since the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) was founded 10 years ago by Maytree and CivicAction, RBC has been a key partner, partnering in and funding many of our initiatives. RBC has also provided leadership through its CEO, Gordon Nixon, and Chief Human Resources Officer, Zabeen Hirji, who have demonstrated their commitment to immigrant integration as chair and co-chair of the TRIEC Council since 2009. Gordon has stated on many occasions that he sees diversity and immigration as important parts of Canada’s past, present and future.

Gordon Nixon is retiring from RBC in the fall of 2014 and will step down as Chair of TRIEC Council. As his last act as Council Chair, Gordon published an op-ed in The Globe and Mail on how a diverse workforce can help enhance our economy.

TRIEC would like to thank him for his partnership.

View this video on the impact of Gordon Nixon’s and RBC’s leadership in immigrant integration.


Jun 17 2014

By Paul Born, Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement


Change is happening all around us. If we are lucky, that change benefits us. If we are unlucky that change hurts us. Is it really this simple? Some would say not, they think that change is something others do to us and therefore, unless change benefits us, it is against us.

Leadership is most often defined by what one does. “She is a good leader. She provides amazing leadership for her organization.” Can leadership be something a group of people do together? Collaborative or collective leadership describes the alignment of multiple interactions, intentions and actions across a group of people who have chosen to lead together on an issue.

Leadership and change are deeply connected. When leadership is needed, it is most often focused on driving us towards a desired change towards something better. When leaders unite in a community to: improve living conditions; reduce poverty; strengthen neighborhoods; and build safer, happier communities, the very act of working together for this change is leadership or “leaderfulness”.

Collective Impact is a framework that offers the most promising approach for translating this “leaderfulness” into action and results in a variety of settings. It is not a prescription but rather a description or guide for how many leaders have successfully worked together to advance large scale change. This work requires that leaders build a common agenda and shared measurement system to support them in co-leading their different organizations or sectors to align their efforts.

Continuous communication allows this co-leadership group to be inspired by each other’s actions; adjust their path forward when needed; add on new ideas to strengthen their work or solidify relationships of trust across individuals and organizations across their network. Backbone infrastructure is established to provide the coordination functions and foundation necessary to support the immense energy and learning that arises through this collective action.

In Canada, the work of collective impact is broad and deep. I believe Canada is demonstrating real leadership in both the scale of our collective impact initiatives and quality of outcomes. Many of our nation’s collective impact approaches are more than a decade strong.

A Collective Impact Summit offers us the opportunity to come together and celebrate the work and learning we are discovering as we advance Collective Impact across the diversity of our nation. A Collective Impact Summit provides an opportunity to immerse in deep thinking and key examples that illustrate how collective impact work is unfolding in a wide variety of settings. A gathering of this kind provides us all with an opportunity to have this pioneering work be noticed and validated. And, most importantly, it offers us a unique opportunity to learn together and, in doing so, contribute to advancing Collective Impact as a field of practice.

Please join us. The Collective Impact Summit is schedule for October 6-10 in Toronto, Ontario. Learn more.

Learn more:

Originally published in Engage!, Tamarack’s free monthly e-magazine – See more at: http://maytree.com/blog/2014/05/is-community-essential-for-social-innovation/#sthash.dsalUEjh.dpuf

Originally published in Engage!, Tamarack’s free monthly e-magazine – See more at: http://maytree.com/blog/2014/05/is-community-essential-for-social-innovation/#sthash.dsalUEjh.dpuf

Originally published in Engage!, Tamarack’s free monthly e-magazine – See more at: http://maytree.com/blog/2014/05/is-community-essential-for-social-innovation/#sthash.dsalUEjh.dpuf

Originally published in Engage!, Tamarack’s free monthly e-magazine – See more at: http://maytree.com/blog/2014/05/is-community-essential-for-social-innovation/#sthash.dsalUEjh.dpuf
Originally published in Engage!, Tamarack’s free monthly e-magazine – See more at: http://maytree.com/blog/2014/05/is-community-essential-for-social-innovation/#sthash.dsalUEjh.dpuf

Originally published in Engage!, Tamarack’s free monthly e-magazine.

Jun 12 2014

The sudden proliferation of national flags other than the Maple Leaf in Toronto is the enthusiastic reaction to the football World Cup in Brazil. While some may question this reassertion of identities left behind, this multicultural Canadian city is just reflecting the global reach of a game that defies national boundaries and even earth’s gravitational pull.

Starting Thursday, as 32 national teams representing the best in football vie for supremacy at the once-in-every-four-year event, the beautiful game makes fans of us all.

“The ‘cup of cups,’ as we affectionately call it, will also be the cup for peace and against racism, the cup for inclusion and against all forms of discrimination, the cup for tolerance, dialogue, understanding and sustainability,” wrote Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, in an article urging visiting fans to view up-close her country’s cultural diversity and ethnic and religious harmony among other things.

But can football be a panacea for some of the ills described by President Rousseff? Can it fight racism, for instance? At the 2nd International Cities of Migration conference held in Berlin last week, two prolific thinkers weighed in on the motion Be it resolved professional football is powerless to end racism.

Sites of integration

Arguing for the motion, Sunder Katwala, Director, British Future, a London think tank, said the issue of racism has more or less been resolved within professional clubs as they have become sites of integration. “We have won the argument in the stadium, but not outside of it.”

He was afraid that while football may spearhead the fight against racism, it could remain the exception. “Anti-racism messages tend to get ignored. It is like the in-flight safety message we hear in airplanes. We filter it out.”

Pointing out the diversity in team compositions, Katwala said two-thirds of the 750 players in the current world cup are migrants playing outside of their country of origin. Only the Russian team of 23 players can be considered pure laine. “But then their coach is Italian!”

Katwala was of the opinion that despite the very diversity many teams thrive on, professional football itself has to trudge a very long way before becoming more inclusive. “The stadium should look like the city,” he said alluding to the expensive tickets that keep away poorer, marginalized sections of society from games. “If we are going to do the work [against racism], we have to make the links.”

‘A vision, an opportunity’

Vigorously defending the other side of the debate, David Goldblatt, author of The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football, asked “if you’re not going to football, where else could you go to implement anti-racism campaigns?” He said football provides us a glimpse of a society that we could share. There is a level playing field where we pick players based of their talent and not where they come from. “It gives us a vision…an opportunity to staking your place in society.”

Goldblatt, who also teaches politics at Pitzer College, London, said football provides us the platform to have the kind of conversations we need to be having when it comes to racism and diversity. “You put it on the pages of the sports press, suddenly they become relevant, comprehensible and important. And until we have that kind of conversations, we are going nowhere.”

The “cup of cups” is one such space to celebrate the values of fair play and peaceful coexistence among all peoples. It sure is a celebration of what diversity and being global is all about.

Enjoy the games and flaunt your flags.


Jun 06 2014

lightbulbs with interconnecting lines

The Marketplace of Good Ideas at the 2014 Cities of Migration Conference in Berlin showcased some of the best city-level integration practices from across the world. It was a quick and easy way to connect with program leaders and discover what made these ideas work.

What makes a practice a Good Idea? At its most basic, any program, activity or strategy that has made a difference in the successful integration of migrants can be considered one. It must benefit a city and all its residents through increased social cohesion, greater urban prosperity and the richness that cultural diversity affords all communities. Above all, Good Ideas are practical, successful and transferable.

At the Marketplace in Berlin, two ideas were presented under each of these five categories: Youth, Welcoming Communities, Employment, Public Services and Entrepreneurship. We present here a sample from each category.


Inspired by their own lived experience, two young men saw the potential of youth helping newcomer adults in their communities and quickly put their idea to work.

Agazi Afewerki and Mohammed Shafique skipped the usual planning stages and scouted their neighbourhood to recruit youth tutors and adult learners. Ten days later, with 10 youth paired with 10 adults based on their native language, they launched Youth Empowering Parents, better known as YEP.

Mohammed, a management consultant with Deloitte Canada, was in Berlin to tell his audience how YEP has so far served over 800 participants with a retention rate of over 80% for both youth and adults.

Welcoming Communities

Faced with an overwhelming growth in anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric, Tennessee in the United States used language to change perception. As hospitality is the hallmark value of the American south, its Welcoming Tennessee Initiative shows how welcoming immigrants can be an expression of a distinctly Tennessean value, one that local residents already embrace.

Eben Cathey, Communications Coordinator, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, told the Berlin audience that the initiative’s success saw it being replicated across the U.S. by Welcoming America, a nationwide organization dedicated to immigrant integration.


The power of language was also put to use by Hamburg in Germany to achieve its diversity goal. The Wir sind Hamburg! Bist Du dabei? (We are Hamburg! Won’t you join us?) marketing campaign was designed to recruit diverse staff into local government while promoting inclusion across the city.

Stefan Müller, project manager of the initiative, was in Berlin to explain how his city reached out to immigrants with the clear message on how determined it was to have people with different cultural backgrounds in its service.

Public Services

Delivering another important message was a Dublin publicity campaign. When reports emerged of the Irish city’s transport workers facing racial abuse, transportation companies banded together to counter it. The Dublin’s Transport Links, Racism Divides campaign that was featured across the city’s buses, trams, trains and taxis was backed by staff training and improved monitoring and reporting of incidents.

Declan Hayden, Office for Integration, Dublin City Council, told the Berlin audience about how the   joint effort on the part of the companies was good corporate behaviour and shows how responsible employers can protect workers and the wider community from racist incidents.


Away from intense publicity campaigns and closer to home in Toronto, Canada, Connect Legal helps immigrants overcome a different kind of hurdle. It offers a Free Lawyer Matching Program to help newcomer entrepreneurs navigate the legal structures of their new country.

Marion Annau,President and Founder of the initiative explained to the Berlin conference  how it  fosters entrepreneurship in the immigrant community by providing legal education workshops and pro bono commercial legal assistance.

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