New survey shows Canadians see immigration as a "solution"

Immigrants still face hints of prejudice

Kaanayo feels welcomed in Canada, but he still feels subtle forms of prejudice. Photo: Courtesy of Kaanayo Nwachukwu

Dalhousie University recently played a major role in a new survey that showed Canadians embrace immigrants who integrate into Canadian culture and appreciate the country's values.

The findings of the survey showed Canadians generally welcome new immigrants, with 47 per cent of Canadians believing immigrants make Canada a better place. The survey was commissioned by the Pierre Trudeau Foundation and conducted by the Environics Research Group.

Howard Ramos, a professor of sociology at Dalhousie, was involved in the study.  He helped write the questionnaire.

"I was generally surprised by the consensus," Ramos said about the findings.

"Most countries see immigration as a problem. What we see, as Canadians, is a solution," Ramos said. "We are comfortable with immigration. One-fifth of Canadians are immigrants. All the fears of immigration's integration are false."

At the Pierre Trudeau Conference earlier in November of this year, academics gathered together to discuss immigration in Canada and the survey's findings. Ramos was also invited to take part in the discussion after his work on the survey.

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Canadians' view on immigrants

"The people who were surveyed told researchers what was important to them included a respect for Canadian culture, fluency in English and French and for democracy," Ramos said.

Among the findings:

  • 97 per cent expected immigrants to acknowledge gender equality and to respect others.
  • 59 per cent said immigrants should not have to be economically self-sufficient in their first year.
  • 51 per cent said education and employability of immigrants were important.

Immigrants often become Canadian citizens

Kaanayo Nwachukwu, 39, is a Canadian citizen from Nigeria who lived in various places in Europe before coming to Canada in 1999. He is currently enrolled in the one-year journalism program at the University of King's College.

Nwachukwu generally agrees with the survey's overall findings but he is concerned about racism.

"I felt more welcomed here than in Europe but that does not mean that there is not prejudice here, especially against black men," Nwachukwu said.

He continued, "It's more hidden here."

Nwachukwu said becoming a Canadian citizen has made it easy to apply for a loan. He said he also cherishes his right to vote.

He agrees with the part of the study about integration. He advises prospective immigrants to Canada to learn English and French, and to integrate.

"If you want to stay here, try as much as possible to integrate. You need to adapt to the system," Nwachukwu said.

A support group for immigrants

Paul Attia, a spokesperson for Immigrants for Canada, a group of recent immigrants to Canada, said immigrants need to "adopt Canadian values, tradition, and laws such as gender equality, the rule of law and freedom of speech and the press."

"These values are fundamental to Canadian society and in fact are some of the very things immigrants left their respective countries-of-origin in search of," Attia wrote in an email.

According to the Pierre Trudeau Foundation, there are approximately 250,000 new immigrants to Canada each year.

Researchers interviewed 2,000 Canadian, 18-year-olds and older from Oct. 11 to Oct. 22. Province and community size were taken into account. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is higher for the regional/socio-demographic subgroups of the total sample.

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Posted by Angel Martinez | Nov 28, 2021