2005 National Host Conference
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[ Section 1 ]
Moderators Deborah Spurr, Director of the Settlement Division within Integration Branch, Pierre Gaulin, Director, Settlement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Ontario Region, both from Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Lucila Spigelblatt, Deputy Executive Director of the Catholic Immigration Centre in Ottawa opened the conference by welcoming delegates from across Canada.
This conference brought together about 120 invited delegates from the settlement community, provincial and federal governments who are directly involved with providing Host and Host-comparable services to new immigrants and refugees in Canada. The objectives of the conference were to:
- facilitate learning within the sector through the sharing of innovative practices and tools that contribute to the successful delivery of the program.
- to provide a national forum for meaningful dialogue around the Host Program, policies and future direction.
Sector representatives from the Planning Committee participated as moderators throughout the conference. Members of the Host Conference Planning Committee were introduced, along with representatives from British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec, the federal department of Canadian Heritage, and the media.
The Plenary session on Day 1 included a speech by Daniel Jean, Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Program Development, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the keynote speaker address by Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director of Maytree Foundation and a panel of Hosts and newcomers involved in the program. A short period for Questions and Answers followed.
Daniel Jean, Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Program Development, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
The following is a summary of the ADM's speech.
Daniel Jean welcomed delegates from across the country and invited all to celebrate 20 years of Host and to learn how we could build an even stronger program for the future.
There are many elements that make the Host and other comparable programs successful, but three are of particular relevance: the way the program is run, the positive effect it has on the people involved in it and its beneficial effect on the rest of the community.
The way the program is run: as far as government programs are concerned, it is almost unique. Government funds the program, but the important work is done by agencies and by the many volunteers who give up their free time to make life better for others, as a true reflection of the generous Canadian spirit. For newcomers, there is no cost to enter the program. The program's most obvious benefit is the way it helps newcomers. It helps them learn about Canada, learn how to access services, absorb Canadian customs, practice speaking either official language, understand the political system and more. Those are all vital elements in helping newcomers adapt to a Canadian way of life and becoming a part of society.
The volunteers who befriend and assist newcomers also benefit through their involvement in the program. It enriches their lives, and form bonds with newcomers that last for years after the formal association ends.
The third element of the Host Program's success is the way the community
at large benefits through the Host Program. It has helped to build a stronger
country, more engaged citizens and closer, more enriching relationships,
particularly important in this time and age of technology which can isolate
people from neighbours and communities.
The Future of Host
The Host Program will be even more relevant in coming years than it is
today. Canada has welcomed about 250,000 newcomers each year for the last
10 years. Those newcomers have done more than make their homes here -
each of them has made a contribution to society and enriched Canada with
their energy, experience, traditions and vitality. Canada is stronger
because of them.
Becoming a member of the new society is of great significance. It is
essential for newcomers to learn what it means to be Canadian. It is the
sum total of all experiences. The only way to learn what it means to be
Canadian is to experience it, and that's the opportunity the Host Program
gives to newcomers. When the newcomers of tomorrow come to Canada, the
Host Program will be here, waiting for them.
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