Media Release

March 22, 2012

Community Portraits: Painting a picture through the eyes of immigrants

Study captures experiences of women, youth, seniors and Francophones settling in York Region
NEWMARKET - York Regional Council today endorsed Community Portraits: Immigrants Living in York Region - Women, Youth, Seniors and Francophones, a research study that tells a compelling story of four immigrant groups living in York Region.
Based on more than 2,000 consultations, Community Portraits takes a closer look at the experiences and perspectives of these groups as they integrate into York Region.
“York Region is committed to building a strong community that supports both newcomers and long-term residents,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch. “Information contained in this study captures first-hand experiences of some of our newest residents and emphasizes the ongoing need for funding and advancement of settlement initiatives.” 
York Region attracts talented and highly educated immigrants from all over the world. The study reflects some of the challenges that must be addressed to help them and their families integrate fully into the community.
Key findings of the study include:
• Like most Canadian young people, recent immigrant youth must balance school and social pressures such as fitting in with their peers. To support their unique needs, additional programs and resources that address the challenges of adjusting to cultural expectations and language barriers are needed.
• Although recent immigrant women are often highly educated, it is common for them to take on the caregiver role when moving to Canada. Programs aimed at connecting immigrant women with the community and workforce will assist them to reach their full potential.
• Outreach and social connections are important to help senior immigrants increase their awareness of programs and resources available and gain an understanding of Canadian values.
• Francophone immigrants living in York Region face a unique challenge of not being able to access services in one of Canada's official languages. French language school boards and other community resources play an important role in supporting Francophone immigrant integration.
“Everyone benefits when newcomers are fully engaged in the community,” said Town of Markham Deputy Mayor Jack Heath, Chair of the Region’s Community and Health Services Committee. “Knowing more about their journey helps inform future planning of programs and services that enhance the well-being of everyone.”
Increasing numbers of immigrants are choosing to make York Region home. According to recent data between 2001 and 2010, York Region’s immigrant population grew by seven per cent, the second highest increase in the Greater Toronto Area. This percentage translates into approximately 10,000 to 12,000 newcomers each year. By 2031, it is anticipated immigrants will make up 55 per cent of York Region’s population.
“There continues to be a need for awareness, knowledge and collaboration,” said Town of Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Co-Chair of the Community Partnership Council. “Community Portraits is just one piece of the puzzle in helping to understand and effectively respond to the needs of York Region’s rapidly diversifying community.”
Community Portraits is one initiative developed under the York Region Local Immigration Settlement Strategy
Today, York Regional Council was also updated on the progress of some of the other Strategy initiatives, including:
• Enhancement to the York Region Immigration Portal
• Development of York Region’s first Internationally Educated Professionals Conference
• Development of the Municipal Diversity Reference Group
The Strategy is a “made-in-York Region plan” which sets a long-term vision and priorities for the well-being of newcomers. It is intended to guide community action that enhances quality of life, builds strong supports and increases opportunities for all residents. The Strategy was developed under the Local Immigration Partnership initiative and funded through Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
“The Community Partnership Council recognizes that full and successful integration is a two-way street,” said Stephen Lam, Director of Immigrant and Community Services, Catholic Community Services of York Region and Co-Chair of the Community Partnership Council. “As ambassadors of this message, we encourage everyone to recognize they have important roles to play in participating in the community.”
The Strategy was developed under the advice of the Community Partnership Council, comprised of up to 25 representatives from various sectors, including community organizations, school boards, employer planning tables, local municipalities, police services and all three levels of government.
“The Local Immigration Settlement Strategy continues to make great progress in addressing the needs of all newcomers ??" particularly the federally identified priority groups of immigrant women, youth, seniors and Francophones,” said Costas Menegakis, Member of Parliament for Richmond Hill. “Collaboration between all levels of government and community partners is key in developing strategies which reflect their unique settlement needs.”
Online versions of the York Region Immigration Settlement Strategy and Community Portraits: Immigrants Living in York Region are available at
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Media Contact: Kim MacGillivray, Corporate Communications, York Region
 1-877-464-9675, ext. 1209 • Cell: 905-251-6412 •

Founded in 1971, The Regional Municipality of York is made up of nine municipalities
and provides services to more than one million residents, 29,000 businesses and 495,000 employees.

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