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Language, inclusiveness key to welcoming immigrants: Governor General

Last Updated Sep 30, 2016 at 5:32 pm PST

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130, Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Canada’s Governor General says inclusiveness and teaching language skills are pivotal for the country to integrate immigrants and refugees, as he helped a group dedicated to helping newcomers celebrate its 40th birthday.

David Johnston and his wife were welcomed with applause and handshakes at MOSAIC as they joined a roundtable discussion about the future of immigration and reception.

 

“Those societies that are inclusive in their economics and politics, are on an upward virtuous cycle while those that are extractive in their economics and politics are in a descending chaotic spiral,” Johnston says, drawing examples from James Robinson’s book Why Nations Fail.

Board members discussed how Canada could do more to alleviate the ongoing global refugee crisis, how the country could define its values and ways to increase diversity and inclusion of all immigrants, including youth.

During a reception following the roundtable, Johnston received a collection of poems written by recent immigrants on their early experiences in Canada. The book was presented by two immigrants including Alex Nguyen.

“I am happy to come here and give the book for every people because we are newcomers,” Nguyen says, recalling his earliest memories of a crowded, snow covered country filled with cars instead of motorcycles.

The book highlighted another area of discussion about language barriers.

“It’s very important for immigrants to learn as quickly as possible one of our two official languages so that they’re employable, and it’s heartening to see the kind of work that’s being done here at MOSAIC to deal with exactly that,” Johnston says.

Board members also thought more needs to be done to help skilled immigrants like doctors and engineers get accredited in Canada.

“We are a country that is in very substantial need of skills at every level. That’s something where we act not simply out of compassion but very much in the self-interest of the country,” Johnston says.

Johnston is the second governor general to visit the settlement and employment agency following Michaelle Jean’s visit in 2006.

More than 40,000 immigrants arrive in B.C. each year, many of whom settle in the Lower Mainland.