Breaking Barriers

The Ethno-cultural Youth Advisory (EYAC) is made up of a group of ethno-cultural and immigrant youth volunteers who work together to advocate for community services that can help immigrant youth better integrate into Canadian society. In this role, we developed a presentation to deliver to community organizations, including the staff of the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, to raise awareness of the unique issues facing immigrant youth.

To prepare the presentation, we conducted our own research on the experiences of immigrant and ethno-cultural youth in the Ottawa region by holding focus groups and conducting surveys.  We also gathered existing written research data about why people immigrate to Canada, where they come from and the greatest challenges they face once they arrive. We then organized our presentation around the five main issues we discovered affecting immigrant youth: discrimination, acculturation, employment, housing and education.

We promoted our presentation by sending emails and flyers to various social service organizations to invite their staff to attend. Since the main purpose of the presentation is to encourage organizations and people who work with youth to consider the needs of immigrant youth when planning their programs, we designed group exercises and wrote a series of discussion questions to really get the audience thinking about the issues and possible solutions. For instance:

  • Why do people discriminate? How can we help fight discrimination?
  • How can we better help youth integrate both their native beliefs and those they are being taught outside their homes?
  • How can new immigrants be better integrated into Ottawa’s workforce?
  • How does forcing people to live off a low income, welfare, or in low quality neighborhoods affect youth negatively? What actions can be taken?
  • What can be done to educate new immigrants to their full potential and better integrate them into the education system?

We hope through our research and presentations that the service gap for immigrant youth can be reduced or even eliminated in the future. We plan on taking this presentation to higher levels in the community, such as to politicians and also into the schools.

Our presentation has been very well received. In fact, EYAC’s work is becoming more and more known in the community. We take requests to work on many projects. Learn more about the Ethno-cultural Youth Advisory.