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Results: 1 - 9 of 9
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-06-17 15:35 [p.29192]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present, in both official languages, the 25th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled “Adapting Canada's Immigration Policies to Today's Realities”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
I would also like to thank the member for Don Valley West, the parliamentary secretary, for his work chairing this committee to help develop this report; and all the members, including the vice-chairs from the Conservative Party and the NDP, who travelled to Tanzania and Uganda in order to obtain witness testimony for this comprehensive report.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2019-02-07 14:59 [p.25405]
Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canada's economic success depends on our ability to attract and retain skilled workers, and workers stay when their families put down roots. These new Canadians not only help good businesses grow and succeed but also enrich the cultural fabric of our region.
Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship update the House on the Atlantic immigration pilot and its progress in addressing labour shortages and growing the economy in our region?
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2018-10-30 19:19 [p.23063]
Mr. Speaker, I am so delighted to support the member for Surrey—Newton in his Bill C-376 to designate a Sikh heritage month. In this place it is difficult sometimes to get things through the House quickly, and I have worked with the member to make sure he had an opportunity to get to third reading so quickly.
I am glad to be the last person to speak to third reading of this bill. There are only two clauses in the bill: its name, and the proposal to make April of every year Sikh heritage month. However, there is one powerful message: Sikh heritage is Canadian heritage, and we are one.
Newfoundland has a modest population of non-European immigrants who each have an outsized impact on raising our cultural awareness. The Sikh community is a perfect example of this graceful and organic process of diversity awareness, and this is the purpose of Bill C-376. It is to provide a forum and an occasion on which we can focus on the important contributions of the Sikh community to our rich Canadian diversity.
The official home of the Newfoundland Sikh Society is the gurdwara on Logy Bay Road in my riding of St. John's East. One could mistake it for a large, white saltbox house in a traditional Newfoundland Irish colonial style but for the bright orange gables and the distinctive Rajput arch style typical of Sikh architecture. It is understated but still quietly dramatic, a perfect meld and juxtaposition of Sikh heritage and Newfoundland heritage.
The physical gurdwara is only 15 years old. It was founded in 2003. Until then, the congregation would meet in people's homes or local halls in St. John's or across the province, demonstrating the spiritual unity of a community that is geographically divided, like so many diaspora.
The population of Sikh Canadians in my province, like that of all Newfoundlanders, waxes and wanes with our economy. According to census data, it tripled from 300 in 2001 to almost 900 in 2011, and has since subsided. However, when I speak to Rami Wadhwa at the Sikh temple, he tells me that it maxed out at 75 families who really participate in the gurdwara.
Now there are about 50, but it will grow again because Sikhs are very welcome in our province. As he was explaining to me, some of the new Sikhs arriving and participating in Newfoundland and Labrador Sikh culture are actually from Italy. They are coming over as skilled workers and to work on farms. They are coming to Canada to become Canadian. It is great that they have a spiritual home in the gurdwara.
This bill would help us prove that Newfoundlanders welcome Sikhs. April is the Sikh new year festival of Vaisakhi, with many important milestones related to the founding of the Khalsa in 1699. It is a very appropriate month to be Sikh heritage month. With the passage of Bill C-376 here and in the Senate, we hope April will have renewed and enhanced significance as an occasion to learn about the young and vibrant teachings and culture of Sikhism, and the selfless pursuit of truth. The values of Sikhism are eternal values shared by all Canadians, like unity and equality of all humankind, selfless service, striving for justice, honesty and honest conduct, and a life devoted to these values.
Their congregation has changed over the years in so many ways. The initial members of the congregation came in the 1960s as teachers. In the 1970s, engineers and doctors joined the community. Now we have trades and business folks who are coming to participate in the oil and gas industry and other sectors.
I know many of us have friends across the country who are Sikhs, but in Newfoundland and Labrador I have a very close friend, Dr. Jasbir Gill. Dr. Gill was born in England while her father was finishing his studies in engineering. Her mother, who was a trained teacher, was there with him. Then they moved to Goose Bay, Labrador, where he worked at the base. Although her mother was unable to get her teaching qualifications transferred from India to Canada, she ran the day care there.
I asked Jasbir to give me an important feature of Sikhism that she would like me to share, and what makes her cultural heritage so important. One thing that really struck me was when she said there is enormous support within the Sikh community for all other cultures. She talks about how the gurdwara in St. John's East encourages its members to participate and share in the spiritual life of other congregations of other faiths in the community, including the Jewish community, the Hindu temple and others.
It is just so wonderful to see how this melding of cultures truly embodies the spirit of what it means to be Canadian. In fact, it truly embodies what a Sikh heritage month can and should be, this opportunity to share and grow together, to learn about each other's cultures and to develop this type of respect.
There is also a very interesting new immigrant coming to my riding of St. John's East, Satnam Singh Bhamara, the seven-foot, two-inch centre for the St. John's Edge basketball team. He was recently with the Dallas Mavericks farm team. He is the first Indian-born player drafted into the NBA. We are so very excited to welcome the newest member of the Sikh community into our homes and our television sets, and to go to an Edge game at Mile One Centre to see this incredibly tall and talented player play. It is so great.
I want to congratulate the member for Surrey—Newton for all he has done. He has been so excited about this opportunity to help celebrate Sikh heritage month. He has worked with all members to make that happen. He has reached out to the community across the country to let them know about this opportunity.
I encourage all members to support this bill at third reading.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2017-11-22 18:34 [p.15454]
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for giving us this opportunity to reflect on our history.
As I learn more and read more about the British home children, it comes to mind that many of them were also suffering in their home country. It certainly was not with malice that religious organizations and orphanages tried to help the children by sending them to Canada. Of course, the story is both inspirational and tragic. I understand that 10% of our population are descendants of the British home children.
Could the member speak a little more to the inspirational stories of the children who came over and maybe how Canada was the right or good fit for them?
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2017-11-22 19:03 [p.15458]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to take part in this debate. The motion before us today calls on the government to pay tribute to the British home children and commemorate their story by creating a British home child day in Canada. I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, for bringing this motion forward.
Motion M-133 proposes that the government recognize the contributions made by the over 100,000 British home children to Canadian society, their service to our armed forces throughout the 20th century, the hardships and stigmas that many of them endured, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon the story of the British home children for future generations. The motion also proposes that we recognize their contributions by declaring September 28 of every year British home child day in Canada.
The story of the British home children is an important chapter in Canada's immigration history. Unfortunately, too many Canadians are ignorant of the tragic, yet inspiring, story of the British home children, even though over 10% of Canadians living today are descended from British home children.
Over the course of nearly eight decades, spanning the late 1860s to the end of the 1940s, roughly 100,000 British children, most of them under the age of 14, were sent to Canada by British philanthropic and religious organizations. Another 50,000 children were sent to other parts of the British empire.
Under this so-called “child migration scheme”, British boys came to Canada to work on farms, and British girls came to work as domestics. The children often worked without supervision and in execrable conditions, which left them vulnerable to neglect, exploitation, and mistreatment.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
Immigration has made an immeasurable contribution to shaping Canada's economy, society, and history. Immigration has mainly been a positive force. It has helped make Canada more prosperous and diverse. Families have been reunited, and protection has been offered to generations of people from around the world fleeing persecution.
That being said, we must also recognize that there are some dark chapters in the history of immigration, and that some policies and practices caused a lot of pain and upheaval in the lives of many people. We must always remember those dark chapters in order to learn from our mistakes and collectively commit to never repeat them.
That is why the motion we are debating today is so important. Many British home children demonstrated great bravery and perseverance and went on to overcome the great adversity they faced to build productive lives for themselves and their descendants here in Canada. For example, 10,000 former British home children fought for Canada a century ago, during the First World War. These included Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney, who received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal, and the Victoria Cross for his service in battle. As I mentioned, millions of Canadians today can trace their ancestries back to the former home children, so their imprint on the history of our country and on Canada today is immense.
This government recognizes the great sacrifices that were made by the home children and the great courage that many of them displayed to overcome their horrific experiences. Some of the stories we heard today are incredibly moving.
As we should, Canadians have undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to recognize the experiences of various groups, and we should do no less now with the home children, to help ensure their memory is kept alive for Canadians today and for the future. These initiatives include online history exhibitions and information at national historic sites across the country, as well as films, books, websites, and genealogical databases.
I think all of my hon. colleagues will agree that the motion we are debating today proposes another significant initiative that would be in the spirit of honouring this important part of Canadian history.
The contribution of the British home children deserves to be acknowledged and recognized by Canadians.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2017-11-09 10:40 [p.15181]
Mr. Speaker, further to Motion No. 39, proposed by the member for Fundy Royal and adopted by the House, I now have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, entitled “Immigration to Atlantic Canada: Moving to the Future”.
I would like to thank all members of the committee for their hard work and all members, especially those from Atlantic Canada, who came to our meetings, observed, and participated in the testimony.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, in 1847 the Dominion of Canada numbered some 1.5 million people. Yet, small as we were then, we welcomed some 100,000 Irish immigrants, immigrants who were leaving a devastating famine behind them, fleeing terror and persecution.
At the time, Irish immigrants were treated with the same contempt and vitriol that is levied at other immigrants today. “Ignorant”, “lazy”, newspapers read, “improvident and unthankful” and as “vicious as they are poor”. Fenians, Papists, here to impose their own religious law on us all.
Political parties were formed and fuelled for fear of them, for fear of us. Some Irish forget that. I do not. Some 38,000 Irish passed through Toronto in 1847. Toronto, then, was a city of only 20,000 people; and 38,000 were taken in by 20,000 already here. That is what I will remember this St. Patrick's Day.
I will remember that in 1847, there were enough, just enough Canadians who rose above the frank, blatant, decades-long discrimination of the day, and gave those immigrants a chance to become Canadians themselves.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Nick Whalen Profile
2016-09-23 13:50 [p.5053]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Fundy Royal for being a leader in our Atlantic caucus on this issue of immigration. Anyone in Atlantic Canada can immediately see how our population is aging, that there are fewer young families, and how we need to do something if we want to maintain our economic growth.
I know that not only the member for Fundy Royal but also the member for Central Nova and myself have written articles on this topic in our local papers, and we have reached out and held round tables on this topic. I would also like to thank the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship for coming to Newfoundland and Labrador and hosting those with me.
This proposed friendly amendment is a real testament to the work that is being done with respect to the notion of looking at retention of immigration in Newfoundland and Labrador and the other Atlantic Canadian provinces as well as on settlement and allowing newcomers to participate in our economy in an appropriate way, and helping the local people learn to appreciate the newcomers.
Therefore, I would ask the member for Fundy Royal how she feels this amendment with respect to settlement and retention services will affect the people of New Brunswick.
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