2016 Fresh Voices Forum Summary
On December 4th & 5th, 2016, over 200 young immigrants and refugees from across British Columbia attended the Fresh Voices Forum to share their ideas and concerns with government officials, service providers, community leaders, and each other.
The Forum covered issues from migration and the education system, to relationships and solidarity-building between Indigenous and immigrant communities, to the diversity and realities of migration journeys. Keynote speakers included Symone Sanders, Jennifer McCrea, Tima Kurdi and Jean D’arc Campbell.
For a reflection of some of the amazing panels, speakers and participants, watch our highlights video.
Top ten priorities
An important outcome of the Forum were top ten priorities identified by youth.
- Access to essential services. All children and youth in Canada should have access to essential services such as education and health care, as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Educator and staff training. Provide anti-oppression, anti-racism and cultural awareness training to teachers and other school staff who work with immigrant and refugee students and communities.
- Mentorship. Develop mentorship programs where older immigrant and refugee young adults support younger peers to overcome difficulties and navigate the system.
- Family reunification. Speed up family reunification efforts by enabling provincial staff to inform and influence federal immigration decision-making timelines.
- English Language Learning. Allow English Language Learning (ELL) – also known as English as a Second Language (ESL) – courses to count towards high school credits.
- Consistency in ELL system. Ensure ELL/ESL testing, assessment, placement and academic guidance is consistent across the province.
- Local governance. Include more immigrants and refugees on the governing bodies of school districts, parent advisory committees, and student councils.
- Standing committee. Convene a national select standing committee to foster dialogue on refugee and migrant youth issues.
- Peer-to-peer support. Provide more opportunities for immigrant and refugee youth (particularly Syrians) to come together and support each other.
- Transportation loans. Remove transportation loans for all refugees.