Explaining Canadian parenting norms

Explaining Canadian parenting norms

Moving as a family to a new country may introduce challenges for parents. They are removed from their local cultural norms and communicating in a new language. Canadian expectations for parents and Canadian laws may be quite different from what immigrants are used to.

Mark Jacot, of Jangles Production, and Donna Joyette, of Joyette Consulting, were in Yellowknife last week to train local organizations that offer services to immigrants on how to present the sensitive subjects of family abuse and parenting to newcomers to Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada funded Jangles Productions to create an orientation video on family abuse to show to newcomers.  The video helps  newcomers understand what Canadians consider family abuse, the laws about abuse, and the consequences of such behaviour.  It explains that laws here are rooted in Canada’s constitutional right of all people to live in safety and security. The video emphasizes that Canada assists victims of abuse, as well as those acting abusively, by providing the resources and services to help stop the abuse.

The video, Welcome to the True North Strong and Free, is available in 17 languages!  It is a helpful non-threatening tool to address the subject of family abuse when newcomers arrive in Canada.

A facilitator’s guide recommends following up the video with a discussion on parenting practices in Canada. In the workshop, we discussed services that are available in Yellowknife to support immigrant families.

Jestine Amora, Integration Advisor with Aurora College, said, “the training session really helped refresh my memory on how to help newcomers going through abuse. The presentation helped me realize that immigrants and refugees may be at a higher risk for family violence. Also, they may face additional barriers to accessing services—barriers that include language and economic limitations, a lack of understanding of Canadian societal norms and values, and/or difficulty integrating into mainstream culture.”

Jestine was especially impressed that the video in different languages can help her when working with diverse clients with lower English skills. Now the task for agencies, such as the NWT Literacy Council, is to create opportunities for newcomers in Yellowknife to see the video and to learn from local professionals what supports are available to them as they and their children adapt to living in Yellowknife.

— Karen Johnson, Community Connections program coordinator

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