Online Exclusive: Ceremony ushers in citizens, conference and change

The University of Calgary Dining Centre played host to a gathering more remarkable than its usual 11 a.m. student traffic on Tues., Oct. 11: fifty freshly sworn in Canadian citizens.

In a ceremony kicking off a national immigration conference hosted by the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Education, citizenship judge Hon. Patricia Gleason welcomed the new citizens to the first day of what she referred to as their new lives as members of the Canadian family.

For the room of eager faces however, the citizenship ceremony marked the resolution of only the first of many struggles that they each will face as new immigrants.

“My husband is still struggling to find the right job for his field,” said one new immigrant who recently joined her family in Canada. She noted, her husband’s difficulties are despite having worked in a gas company prior to his landing in 2000 and completed a program at SAIT.

Another, a young accountant from Bangladesh with a master’s degree in Finance and Banking, spoke of difficulties finding a job both in Montreal and Calgary and having to relocate her family in search of employment.

Said Calgary-centre Member of Parliament Lee Richardson, a guest speaker at Tuesday’s ceremony, “There has been a breakdown in the system. There are immense backlogs. [Now] is the time to say what’s wrong with the system…let’s try to fix it in terms of fairness but also efficiency.”

It is with these goals in mind that delegates will meet for the Immigration, Intergration and Language policy conference here at the U of C to dissect the issue of professional accreditation procedure as well as the delivery of effective ESL education, social integration, and work skills training.

Drawing representatives as far reaching as government, community, corporate business and education sectors, the conference hopes to draft strategies that will form the basis of major immigration policy reform on both provincial and national scales. These strategies, addressing issues highlighted by a selection of panelists will be formally released in an action plan following the conference.

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