Immigration and Refugees
Immigration and Refugees
Forever on the Move
The reasons and prompts for migration have been constant throughout history. Sometimes, people were forced to move from one place to another due to violent conflicts. Invaders from another region took control of their land, or wars between local groups left them caught in the middle and at risk. At other times, people uprooted themselves in search of a better life. The promise of land, freedom, better education, safer communities, work opportunities, and overall improved quality of life tempted people to leave their homelands and try their luck in foreign lands.
In some cases, people were forcibly removed from their homes and taken to other parts of the world to work as slaves or laborers. On many occasions, people were forced to flee due to natural disasters, such as volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, or droughts that destroyed their land and left them without food, shelter, and water.
Immigration and Refugees is part of the latest additions to the “Get Informed – Stay Informed” series. The relocation of mass numbers of people, both migrants and refugees, is currently a very political issue. Like the other books in the “Get Informed – Stay Informed” series, Immigration and Refugees begins with a comprehensive overview of the importance of the issue with some background and context clearly presented. The author uses this relevant topic to teach students important information literacy skills.
Staying informed about any major issue requires a critical assessment of world situations. You need to look beyond local sources of news and information to gain an international perspective and balanced view. As a result, your conclusions may go against that of people within your community or the official view of your nation’s government. But providing you have done your research well, they are valid and worthy of being supported and listened to by others.
Immigration and Refugees identifies some “good specific source materials for learning about immigration and refugees” such as “government and international policy and awareness websites such as the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada” and “nonprofit groups such as Amnesty International, UNICEF, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, Canadian Council for Refugees, and United We Dream”.
Immigration and Refugees includes examples of Canada’s immigration and refugee policies from the early settler days when Clifford Sifton set policies that “favored farmers from the United States, people from Scotland and northern England, and peasants from eastern and central Europe”, to the recent Syrian refugee initiative.
Many historic and modern-day photos support and strengthen the text. Photos show Syrian refugees being welcomed at Toronto airport, the RCMP meeting illegal immigrants and undocumented refugees crossing the Canadian border illegally, and protesters at an anti-Muslim protest in Toronto.
One unfortunate editorial choice was to include a large image of the logo of the U.S. Border Patrol on the title page. In itself, there is nothing wrong with this decision, but unfortunately it may result in those responsible for choosing books for Canadian school libraries to incorrectly assume that this book is about immigration and refugees from an American perspective.
An excellent feature of the book is the use of text boxes titled “The Central Issues” which ask readers to interact with the text and come to some informed opinions.
Why do you think there are so many more migrants today than in the past? What current events around the world might be causing refugees to flee? How might the mass migration of people have an impact on society, and what strategies do you think goverments [sic] need to put in place to deal with it?”
The overwhelming numbers of immigrants and refugees requiring assistance around the world right now makes this topic very relevant. It is extremely important that students acquire the skills to understand this complex issue and find solutions without exacerbating an already bad situation. Immigration and Refugees does an excellent job of presenting the humanitarian and the economic aspects of this crisis from a local, national, and international perspective.
Tolerance and Understanding
Getting informed and understanding the reasons why people leave their homes helps foster tolerance and acceptance rather than fear and persecution. When people are misinformed they can jump to wrong conclusions. This may lead to unfair treatment, such as prejudice or discrimination, toward newcomers into a host country.
I highly recommend Immigration and Refugees for every school library collection. It not only informs readers about the current state of affairs but provides them with the tools and skills to get informed and stay informed about this ongoing issue.
Dr. Suzanne Pierson, a former teacher-librarian, is currently instructing Library courses at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.