Promising Integration Practices in Francophone Official Language Minority Communities

Prepared for Citizenship and Immigration Canada by:

  • The Pathways to Prosperity Partnership
  • Meyer Burstein Pathways to Prosperity (P2P)
  • Gerry Clement GLC Consulting & Services (P2P collaborator)
  • Sheila Petty University of Regina (P2P co-investigator)

With special thanks to Angeline Dubois University of Regina

This project was funded by the Research and Evaluation Branch at Citizenship and Immigration Canada that receives funding from the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities to support research on immigration in official language minority communities.

The views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizenship and Immigration Canada or the Government of Canada.

  • Ci4-128/2015E-PDF
  • 978-0-660-02019-8
  • Ref. No.: R104-2013

Table of contents

Acknowledgements

The authors would like thank Citizenship and Immigration Canada for supporting this research study of promising integration practices. In particular, we would like to express our appreciation to Cédric de Chardon, Directeur adjoint à la recherche sur les CLOSMs (Research and Evaluation Branch) for his counsel and assistance throughout our work. We would also like to thank Angeline Dubois for her many helpful suggestions, and corrections, and the University of Regina for its generous assistance with conference telecommunications.

The authors would also like to acknowledge Marjie Brown and the FCFA (Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne) for helping us to identify potential promising practices and helping to elicit responses from host organizations. Marjie and Roukya Abdi-Aden from the RDÉE (Le Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité) generously lent their expertise to the project selection process as members of the Expert Advisory Committee.

Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to the many Francophone agencies, as well as the RIFs (Réseaux en immigration francophone), that responded to our questions and supplied information about their agencies and about practices they regarded as especially promising. Our final choice of practices for analysis was based on parameters linked to our methodology; the fact that certain projects were not chosen does not mean they were of lesser quality.

Executive summary

The project focuses on reception and integration strategies associated with Francophone Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) in three practice areas: newcomer integration into the workforce, integration into Francophone institutions, and settlement service provision in French. The goal was to first identify and then analyze promising practices to determine whether and how they might be transferred. At a practical level, the study sought to answer: (i) Whether innovative practices could be readily identified in relation to important policy themes: (ii) Whether practices could easily be adapted to varying geographic and demographic conditions; and (iii) Whether practices were dependent on unique institutional arrangements and partnerships that would be difficult to recreate.

The study methodology involved generating a list of possible projects; gathering documentary evidence about them; choosing a sub-set of practices for in-depth review; and conducting face-to-face interviews with project officials. The study design and data gathering instruments were adapted from an earlier, successful study involving Anglophone settlement service organizations.

In the study, promising practices are defined in terms of their effectiveness in achieving particular goals or results. Defining promising practices in this way allows them to be empirically measured and compared with other practices that use different methods. An important feature of the study is that it attempts to separate internal factors – factors that contribute to the excellence of a practice and are subject to agency management – from external or environmental factors that also exert influence but are beyond agency control. These distinctions are critical when transferring practices.

In considering the study, it is important to bear in mind that unlike anglophone practices, which can generally be evaluated in terms of the benefits accruing to newcomers, francophone practices must also consider contributions to the sustainability of OLMCs. Francophone practices also differed in that they tended to be smaller, not as well resourced, and suffered from unstable financing – all problems that impede the development of partnerships and the capacity of agencies to combine multiple programs and achieve synergies or spin-offs (projects that build on experience acquired in a related area of work).

In response to these challenges, all the projects that were studied enlisted the help of networks to form connections. Three types of linkages stood out: connections with Francophone educational institutions; connections with the Réseaux en immigration francophone (RIFs), and municipal links. These are described in the detailed case studies.

Recommendations

Five recommendations have been developed implicating Francophone networks (RIFs), the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA), the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité (RDEE), and CIC. Many of the activities that are described have financial implications.

The study’s recommendations need to be tempered by the significant challenges that were encountered by the research team. Chief among these was the difficulty in eliciting suggestions for suitable projects. As well, the practices that were eventually nominated, while interesting and useful, were unable to offer persuasive evidence to support claims that they were especially unique or innovative. As a result, the study’s conclusions are somewhat tentative.

In commenting on the study’s limitations, it is important to recognize the passion, dedication, hard work, and achievements of the staff interviewed by the research team. The shortcomings that are described would appear to be the result of underinvestment in key spheres of activity, notably: (i) a lack of technological investment – especially in distance education and communications; (ii) scant analytic work to support claims, and to develop and steer projects; and (iii) a lack of familiarity with similar practices activities by other agencies in either the francophone or anglophone sphere and constrained knowledge transfer.

Specific recommendations follow:

  • Recommendation 1: Francophone networks, under the leadership of the FCFA – possibly through the mechanism of the national planning table – should initiate a review of how research and evaluation (by agencies) might be encouraged and supported in order to promote objective, evidence-based decision making about settlement practices.
  • Recommendation 2: Francophone networks, under the leadership of the FCFA (through the possible mechanism of the national planning table), should adopt key recommendations contained in “Agency of the Future: Report by the Information and Communications Technology Committee”. (See “Pathways to Prosperity: Canada”)
  • Recommendation 3: Either CIC or the FCFA should develop a national repository for promising practices by Francophone agencies. The repository would need to be based on analysis and hard evidence. The FCFA might also seek to establish reciprocal relations with provincial and national anglophone umbrella associations in regard to the identification of practices.
  • Recommendation 4: The RIFs, in collaboration with the FCFA and the RDEE, should examine the benefits of engaging various quasi-public institutions in the recruitment and inclusion activities undertaken by Francophone agencies. This could constitute a promising practice.
  • Recommendation 5: CIC should promote evidence-based decision-making and knowledge transfer (focused on promising practices in key policy areas) by francophone agencies and networks. CIC should also consider ways to promote the increased use of information and communication technologies by francophone agencies in order to help them deal with the geographic challenges presented by dispersed francophone populations. Finally, CIC might consider placing greater emphasis in its calls for proposals and service support on partnering activities, especially where such activities support bridging between new arrivals and institutions involved in newcomer reception.

Introduction

The study of Promising Integration Practices in Francophone Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) was carried out with the support of Citizenship and Immigration Canada under the Ministry's October 2013 call for proposals. The project focuses on reception and integration strategies for OLMCs in three areas of practice designed to promote newcomer integration into the workforce, integration into Francophone institutions, and settlement service provision in French. The original goal, somewhat modified over the course of the project, was to identify two promising practices in each area and to analyze those practices using a proven methodology to determine whether they were transferable and, if so, under what conditions.

The study was not designed as a full scale 'mining' exercise to unearth multiple, promising practices spanning the entire range of integration services. Instead, it sought to establish 'proof of concept' for such an undertaking by dipping into three areas of practice that are central to the overall policy goal of contributing to the sustainability of Francophone minority communities. These practice areas involve the recruitment, retention, integration, and inclusion of newcomers into OLM communities. Practical questions that the study sought to answer were:

  • Whether interesting and innovative practices could be readily identified in relation to important policy themes
  • Whether practices, in our sample, 'traveled' well - that is, whether they could easily be adapted to varying geographic and demographic circumstances
  • Whether practices seemed dependent on unique institutional arrangements and partnerships that would be difficult to recreate

Answers to these questions would help CIC, or Francophone networks, assess the prospects for creating a 'laboratory' of promising practices from which individual agencies across the country could draw inspiration and ideas for new and improved services. They should also help CIC evaluate the benefits of investment in knowledge mobilization and transfer.

Notwithstanding the study's small size and modest ambitions, the study team was challenged, right from the start, in terms of eliciting suitable projects. As a result, the original design and project objectives had to be modified a number of times - the scientific equivalent of cutting the suit to fit the cloth - and the study's conclusions are somewhat more tentative than the authors originally intended. Details regarding the changes are provided in the chapter on methodology.

On a positive note, the challenges associated with project identification led the research team to focus more closely, than it otherwise would have, on the qualities and capacities of the Francophone OLMC network as a whole ... as distinct from the capacities of individual projects. These points are further developed in the Overview chapter and they inform the recommendations.

The Project Team was made up of three principals: Meyer Burstein, Gerry Clement, and Sheila Petty.

  • Meyer Burstein: Meyer Burstein is Senior Fellow and Director of Policy and Planning for the Pathways to Prosperity Partnership (P2P). His previous work in this field includes: Local Immigration Partnerships and the Réseaux en immigration francophone: Strategies for Increasing Alignment and Collaboration and for Developing Performance Measurement Tools (headed by Victoria Esses); Fostering Francophone Immigration to Ontario: A Strategy for Attracting and Retaining Immigrants (with Caroline Andrew); Study of Innovative and Promising Practices within the Settlement Sector (with Victoria Esses); and Agency of the Future, which focuses on sector innovation.
  • Gerry Clement: Gerry Clement is former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Manitoba Department of Labour and Immigration. In this capacity, he presided over the launch of Manitoba's highly successful provincial nominee program and played a seminal role in establishing the essential policy framework that promoted local involvement in newcomer recruitment and retention. For many years, Gerry co-chaired the CIC- Francophone Community Planning Committee. He also has hands-on settlement experience, currently serving as President of Abri Marguerite, a housing initiative for francophone newcomers, and as Président of the Centre culturel franco-manitobain. His private practice specializes in policy and program evaluation in the immigration and settlement sector.
  • Sheila Petty is former Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and former director of the Institut français; she is a professor of media studies at the University of Regina. Sheila leads an interdisciplinary research group and New Media Studio Laboratory spanning Computer Science, Engineering and Fine Arts. Sheila is a co-investigator in the Pathways to Prosperity Project, responsible for governance of the P2P's Prairie node. She has done extensive work on issues of cultural representation, identity and nation, key features of cultural retention that are vital to the sustainability of Francophone OLMCs.

Methodology

The study methodology involved a four stage process designed to identify and elicit information about projects deemed to be promising or best practices. Stage one focused on generating a list of possible projects for analysis; stage two involved gathering documentary evidence about these projects and choosing a sub-set for in-depth review; stage three centred on face-to-face interviews with key project personnel; and stage four consisted of analyzing the information that had been gathered and preparing the case studies, overview analysis, and recommendations. The implementation of the four stages is described in detail below, preceded by a brief discussion of the concept of a promising or best practice.

What constitutes a promising or best practice and how can it be identified?

The terms 'promising practices' and 'best practices' are sometimes used interchangeably to signify excellence. There is however a more nuanced use that reserves 'promising practices' for practices that have not been fully evaluated but for which a consensus is emerging that the practice is amongst the best of a particular genre. As well, the term 'promising practices' is preferred by analysts who are not comfortable designating a practice as 'best' when the population of similar practices has not been comprehensively assessed. In this study, the terms have been used interchangeably, though with reservations. The reservations arise from the definition of what constitutes a promising practice and the weak evidentiary base available to the research team.

In this study, promising practices are defined in terms of their effectiveness in achieving particular goals or results. Defining promising practices in this way allows them to be empirically measured and compared with other practices that use different methods in pursuit of similar results. Another important feature of the study is that it attempts to analyze the factors that account for the success of the practice. These include both internal factors that are subject to agency management, as well as external or environmental factors that exert influence on outcomes but are beyond agency control. Understanding these factors is crucial to being able to successfully transfer a promising practice from one agency to another, where the two agencies have different internal endowments and operate in - are affected by - different social, economic, and political circumstances.

The study design and instruments used to analyze promising integration practices in Francophone OLMCs were adapted from a previous study where they were successfully used to analyze a range of settlement services offered by anglophone immigrant service provider organizations. [See Study of Innovative and Promising Practices within the Immigrant Settlement Sector by Burstein and Esses, August 2013. This study can be accessed at: http://p2pcanada.ca/. Below, the study methodology and the research team's efforts are described:

Stage one: Identifying a pool of promising practices

Stage one sought to identify promising practices by Francophone immigrant serving agencies in three domains: (i) building relations with employers; (ii) engaging newcomers into Francophone cultural institutions; and (iii) delivering services in French to newcomers in remote and Northern communities. These domains were subsequently modified to compensate for low response rates.

In order to identify relevant practices, the study team enlisted the help of two sets of networks. Letters explaining the study were sent to seven Réseaux en immigration francophone asking the Réseaux to identify promising practices in each of the three study domains. The Réseaux are multi-stakeholder networks that seek to improve collaboration among agencies that work with immigrants and receiving communities to promote the integration of newcomers into Francophone minority settings. There are thirteen Réseaux across the country and the original letters targeted BC, Alberta, Ontario (which has three networks), Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In addition, letters were sent to the provincial and regional umbrella associations for settlement service providers. These letters, like the ones to the Réseaux, asked for help in identifying Francophone organizations with exemplary practices.

As well as contacting the networks, both the FCFA (Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne) - which coordinates the Réseaux and the national planning table - and Citizenship and Immigration Canada were asked to suggest promising practices. The research team also mined the FCFA's website for ideas - the site contains a section on promising practices - as well as a 2009 report by CIC's Metropolis Project entitled Best Practices Manual on Francophone Immigration in Canada.

Despite the size of the nets that were cast - and the rather modest number of practices that were sought - the overall response was profoundly disappointing, both for the small number of suggestions that were offered as well as the general nature of those suggestions (with some notable exceptions). Rather than naming particular projects or practices, nominations tended to refer to broad programs, lists of agencies, and networks.

Faced with this situation, the research team sought the help of the FCFA in eliciting suggestions from the RIFs. This resulted in a second letter being sent, this time targeting all thirteen RIFs across the country. CIC also offered assistance, suggesting several practices that seemed to have potential. The research team reached out to these contacts as well.

The second mailout was somewhat more productive than the first, producing ten responses, many offering multiple suggestions. Despite this, practices favouring Northern and remote communities were scant and the research team had to obtain CIC's agreement to broaden the topic, opening the door to additional submissions. As well, CIC agreed to broaden the theme on integrating newcomers into Francophone institutions, dropping the restriction to cultural institutions.

Based on the promising practice suggestions that were received, a shortlist of fifteen projects was developed. The organizations responsible for these practices were then contacted by the team - both in writing and, where possible, by telephone - and asked to complete a brief, initial questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed to collect baseline information and to establish the reasons why a practice was deemed excellent. In addition, the questionnaire sought to determine whether an evidentiary base existed for the claims of excellence. Responses were obtained from thirteen organizations.

The final point to note is that the difficulties experienced at the outset led the research team to revise its methodology. Instead of relying on student interveners and interviewers, the research team decided to assume the task of interceding with Francophone agencies and utilizing team members to conduct the in-person interviews. All written and oral communications with agencies and RIFs were in French.

Stage two: Reviewing documentary evidence and obtaining advice on the selection of promising practices

In order to assist in the selection of promising practices, an expert advisory committee was constituted to consider thirteen projects that had been nominated across the three domains. (See Appendix three for details.) The committee included the research team and representatives from the FCFA, the RDÉE (Le Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité), and CIC. Committee members were asked to assess the projects based on information supplied by the agencies in response to a questionnaire that they were asked to complete. Unfortunately, the information proved very rudimentary. Little effort had gone into completing the short survey, forcing committee members to seek additional information from agency websites. On occasion, the sites contained references to assessment reports and client testimonials, offering insight into the nominated practices.

The criteria used by the committee to formulate its advice included members' perceptions of how important a practice was for integrating Francophone newcomers, whether the practice was innovative, whether it was transferable and of potential interest to other agencies, and whether the evidence for the quality of the practice was persuasive.

The committee convened via teleconference in late September 2014 to discuss the projects that had been submitted. In addition to the material that was distributed prior to the meeting, the research team also provided oral briefings. While the committee did not formally vote, there was near unanimity in terms of members' assessments. Based on the committee's deliberations, the research team chose two projects in each of the three categories. These were located in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia - a function of provincial response rates and committee preferences.

Stage three: Face-to-face interviews

Immediately after the advisory committee meeting, the research team sought to arrange face-to-face interviews with the agencies whose practices had been chosen. This proved more difficult and time consuming than had been anticipated. Eventually, one of the six chosen projects had to be dropped and another practice substituted. As a result, only one practice remained under the theme of 'Delivering settlement services in French to Francophone newcomers'; at the same time, the number of practices under the theme of 'Integrating newcomers into Francophone institutions' grew to three.

A total of six in-person interviews were conducted in the first half of October - three each by Gerry Clement and Sheila Petty. All interviews took place in French. Interviews ranged from one and a half to two hours and were audio recorded for subsequent review. (See Appendix Four: Case Study Summary Table for additional details regarding the projects.)

The interview guide - see Appendix Two - was sent to organizations ahead of the interview - or the questionnaire was described - so they could anticipate the discussion, assemble evidence and prepare their replies. The areas of investigation covered in the interview explored the following topics:

  • Goals of the practice - what it is trying to achieve
  • Method of operation - how the practice works
  • Features and contextual factors that contribute to the success of the practice and are deemed to be innovative
  • Evidence for success, including testimonials by clients and partners, reports by third parties, and research and evaluation studies
  • Assessment of transferability in relation to location, area of practice, and possibilities of scaling the practice.

Short case study reports were prepared for each practice drawing on the interviews and any additional documentation that was made available to the researchers. The case studies are presented below - arranged thematically - immediately following the section on Recommendations.

Commentary on the methodology

The study relied on two methods to identify promising practices. The first involved comparisons among projects based on empirical studies of project outcomes - carried out by the agencies themselves or by third parties; the second involved less formal assessments conducted by 'experts' with cross-cutting knowledge of practices in particular regions or subject matter areas. The combination of these two methods proved successful in the anglophone promising practice study and the research team expected similar success in the Francophone study. This proved to be overly optimistic. As noted elsewhere, there was very little reliable, empirical evidence on which to base best practice assessments. Furthermore, the difficulties experienced in eliciting suggestions for promising practices from the various networks that were contacted eroded the confidence of the research team in being able to make definitive judgments regarding project quality and the desirability of relying on particular projects as models, without first evaluating them. This caution is reflected in the research team's analysis and recommendations. It also leaves unresolved the question of whether there exists a rich enough pool of francophone projects on which to base an independent 'innovation engine' similar to that proposed for anglophone projects by the Agency of the Future project. The 'innovation engine' is a series of interlinked processes for identifying areas of strategic interest; locating best practices in those areas; analyzing those practices to permit their transfer; and communicating this information - via courses - to interested organizations and agencies. (Information about Agency of the Future can be accessed at: p2pcanada.ca).

Overview assessment of case studies

See Appendix 4 for a summary table describing the six projects

As noted in the previous chapter, the study was intended as a 'proof of concept', the concept being the idea that the six case studies would confirm or, less conclusively, signal the existence of a much larger pool of instructive, promising practices. While this may still be the case, the study was unable to confirm this hoped-for conclusion. And not for want of trying. The two main reasons for this pessimistic outcome have to do with the extended case study selection process, as well as the research team's reactions to the projects that were ultimately put forward for examination. This has led the team to offer a number of speculative observations regarding the state of connections and exchanges within the Francophone network, the quality of links that exist between Francophone agencies and the larger settlement sector, and the quality of the information that underpins agency decisions. We will return to these points following an attempt to draw out some cross-cutting factors that appeared to play an important role in the projects we examined. In doing so, it is important to bear in mind the small size of the sample that underlies these inferences.

The first point that needs to be made is that the metric for assessing promising practices by francophone agencies is different from the metric used to assess similar practices by agencies operating in the anglophone sphere. Whereas for anglophone agencies, a promising practice can, generally, be assessed in terms of benefits accruing to the newcomer, for francophone organizations, this calculation is incomplete. The project's contribution to the welfare and sustainability of the larger francophone community - a function of newcomers' affinity to that community - is, invariably, also of concern. Of course in Anglophone Northern and remote communities, newcomer attraction and retention are also important, but the cultural dimension and community affinity do not play quite so vital a role.

The community dimension and the importance of creating affinity may explain the emphasis on early intervention among the case studies. Four of the projects - the recruitment and retention of students, the delivery of pre-arrival services by Nova Scotia, the distribution of the educational trousse, and the civic engagement project - are strongly concerned with 'place' and with efforts to bind newcomers to particular locales.

Notwithstanding the importance of 'place' and the community dimension, the absence of formal evaluations involving client surveys or measures of mobility precluded the present study from saying much about this topic. It nevertheless bears mention that the program and activities championed by the Université de Saint-Boniface - situated within the framework of Manitoba's provincial nominee program - appear to have been successful. Similarly optimistic conclusions likely apply to the civic and political engagement project operated by Regroupment ethnoculturel des parents francophones de l'Ontario and the Association française des municipalités de l'Ontario. More speculative are the assertions by CLE regarding its trousse (kit) and the effect is has had on increased enrolment in Francophone educational institutions; however, client testimonials are consistent with such an effect.

Another general observation about the case studies concerns project scale. Without a comprehensive analysis of both francophone and anglophone projects, it is not possible to say, definitively, that francophone projects tend to be smaller than anglophone ones; however, the practices examined in the 2013 study commissioned by CISSA-ACSEI (the national settlement umbrella association) - Study of Innovative and Promising Practices within the Immigrant Settlement Sector - were generally larger, better resourced, and on a firmer financial footing than the ones nominated for the current study. This could simply be an anomaly of the project selection process, or the small sample size, but it may equally be related to the smaller size of francophone communities and the smaller number of francophone arrivals. It may also reflect the paucity of funding opportunities available to francophone organizations.

Whatever the reason, it is worth noting that reductions in scale make it more difficult for projects to establish partnerships or to combine programs in ways that take advantage of the special skills that settlement agencies acquire by virtue of how they work with immigrants - focusing on cases rather than transactions (a feature that was observed in the francophone case studies as well as the anglophone ones). In the CISSA-ACSEI study of anglophone agencies, many of the projects involved agencies combining or repurposing programs in order to achieve synergies. In contrast, the francophone projects tended to draw on fewer sources and were, generally, purpose-built from the ground up.

The same observation holds for spin-offs - that is, projects that were developed following experience acquired in some related area of work. None of the Francophone projects that were examined - at least on their face - represented branchings from earlier, related undertakings. Again, it is only possible to speculate on the reasons for this discrepancy; however, it is entirely plausible that the differences between anglophone and francophone practices have a great deal to do with the smaller size and limited range of opportunities - including funding opportunities - available to francophone agencies.

Similar, depressive effects on the size and reach of projects have likely resulted from instability in the funding of Francophone projects. Instability reduces the long-term incentives that can be offered to partners, making it more likely that agencies have to 'go it alone'. Significantly - and somewhat unexpectedly given that the case studies were focusing on promising practices - two of the six projects that were nominated had suffered financial cuts and were scaled back. Accès@Emploi had to abandon its one-on-one mentor to mentee relationship, reducing the number of meetings that occurred. Instead, each mentor was assigned four newcomers, and instruction took on a less personal quality. The civic engagement project suffered even greater cutbacks. Funding was terminated in 2010 - notwithstanding two successful evaluations - and the project has since had to rely on the participating agencies for support, drawn on their core budgets and volunteer resources. As a result, face-to-face instruction was sharply curtailed and, in its place, on-line and distance education techniques were introduced … a noteworthy shift in project 'technology'.

While lower funding and fiscal instability depress partnership opportunities, they increase incentives to engage with networks. Unsurprisingly, all of the projects examined in this study demonstrated the importance of networks. Several features of this networking stand out:

  • Francophone educational institutions played an important role in three of the projects. In the case of the Université de Saint-Boniface, USB is itself the instigator at the centre of a network that enlists the local community and Francophone organizations in promoting the recruitment and retention of Francophone students. Another project in which a university plays a key role - this time Campus Saint Jean in Edmonton - is Accès@Emploi. The connection with Campus Saint Jean - including participation by agency staff in immigration symposia and other events - lends Accès@Emploi credibility and raises the organization's profile. This is vital for enhancing access to potential mentors and securing job placements. Organizations wishing to replicate the success of Accès@Emploi would need to assure themselves of similar networking opportunities. Finally, La Bonne Affaire cited the importance of educational institutions in gaining access to employers. The particular link mentioned by La Bonne Affaire involved its relations with Le Collège Boréale.
  • A second feature that bears mention in the discussion of networks is the role of the Réseau en immigration francophone (RIFs). RIFs were seen to play a role in fully half the projects reviewed by the study. While this may be related to the selection process - the RIFs helped nominate promising practices - it nevertheless provides insight into the role and contributions of networks. In the civic engagement project, the RIF was instrumental in enlisting local constituent organizations to provide logistical support for training delivery. Without the RIF, it would not have been possible to expand the project as quickly to multiple locations. The importance of the RIFs' access and convening capacity was also on display in the contribution by the RIF de l'Est de l'Ontario to the expansion of the Trousse d'information en langue française project to municipalities across Ontario. Lastly, the RIF in Nova Scotia was seen to play an important role in the province's pre-arrival program, facilitating connections to Francophone organizations concerned with employment and economic development, professional accreditation, health, education, and language training. In all of three examples, RIFs were instrumental in facilitating geographic expansion or broadening partnerships. The latter included the development of bridging relations to municipalities.
  • Social capital theorists, such as Robert Putnam [Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community] and Michael Woolcock [The Place of Social Capital in Understanding Social and Economic Outcomes] distinguish between bonding and bridging capital. The former centres on connections with members of the same group, while the latter refers to connections with members of other (generally, mainstream) groups. While in-group connections frequently characterize early settlement behaviour, the connections are also associated with a narrowing of opportunities and constrained long-run performance. Bridging social capital, on the other hand, is associated with higher long-term returns. The networks reported by the projects in this study tended to be of the bonding variety. Theory suggests that this will lead to diminished newcomer outcomes. On the other hand, the development of bonding social capital is essential for the sustainability of OLMCs. Analyzing these trade-offs and the impact of early assimilation of newcomers through, primarily, Francophone networks is beyond the scope of this study. It is, nevertheless, an important topic for research.

Constraints on excellence and innovation

The report will now take up the point, first made in the introduction, that the study's conclusions are, of necessity, more tentative than the authors had intended. Not to put too fine a point on this, the practices that were nominated for analysis - while interesting and useful - were unable to offer persuasive evidence to support claims that they were especially unique or innovative. Similarly, the apparent difficulty in identifying promising practices for the study - coupled with the research team's ongoing difficulty in eliciting evidence and analyses to support various contentions, contributed to the judgement that that the study was taking place in a constrained space with few references to similar activities elsewhere. This point is emphasized in the discussion above concerning scale.

In focusing on the study's limitations, it is important to dispel the notion that the critical comments reflect negatively on the passion, dedication, hard work, and achievements of the staff involved in the projects analyzed by the research team. All of these qualities were displayed in the projects that were examined. Despite this, and tellingly, a number of important features were missing. The absence of these features, or activities, made it difficult to convincingly describe the projects as promising practices. As well, at a macro level, there appeared to be underinvestment in several critical spheres of activity having to do with knowledge transfer. These points are expanded below.

In a recent report examining the use of technology by anglophone settlement service organizations (Agency of the Future: Report by the Information and Communications Technology Committee), there was evidence of considerable interest - and use - by agencies of new information and communication technologies for a range of activities that included distance education, advocacy, internal and external communication, and project and performance management. Given the dispersion of Francophone communities and the low concentrations of Francophone populations and Francophone arrivals, the research team would have expected to find a greater emphasis on technological investment - especially in distance education and communications - in the case studies and the projects that were nominated. This was not the case, possibly for the reasons identified in the Agency of the Future report - notably cost to individual agencies and the absence of funding for infrastructure development.

Another area of seeming underinvestment involved analysis and empirical assessment. These played an important role in Anglophone promising practice projects that were analyzed by Pathways to Prosperity researchers. In contrast, the research team was struck by how little hard evidence was available to support the majority of claims for designating the projects that were put forward as promising practices.

Organizations were, by and large, unable to point to analytic work they had undertaken prior to inception to develop and shape their projects or, subsequently, to steer them. The subject of performance measurement and evaluation - and recommendations for advancing analytic activities - is taken up in a report entitled Local Immigration Partnerships and the Réseaux en immigration francophone: Strategies for Increasing Alignment and Collaboration and for Developing Performance Measurement Tools. Some of the proposed measures identified in the study are complex and expensive but others could be implemented by individual agencies or by agencies with the assistance of larger Francophone networks.

The final area where there the research team would have expected more activity centres on knowledge transfer. The case studies revealed a lack of familiarity by francophone agencies with similar activities by anglophone organizations. And while this is undoubtedly attributable, in part, to language barriers, it also appeared that the case study respondents were unaware of similar projects within the Francophone sphere ... or, if they were aware of the projects, they were either disinclined or unable to examine them. This was consistent with the observed (high) ratio of invented to 'borrowed' project ideas.

Still on the point of knowledge transfer, at a more general level, the lack of awareness of practices also manifested itself in the difficulties encountered by the research team in trying to elicit nominations of promising practices. The francophone networks found it difficult to provide curated lists of important promising practices for analysis, while the anglophone umbrella associations that were also consulted, with a handful of exceptions, indicated a complete lack of awareness of francophone activities. What they offered were simply lists of organizations that worked in French.

Recommendations

Five recommendations have been developed by the research team. These have implications for Francophone networks (RIFs), the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA), the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité (RDEE), and CIC.

Recommendation 1:

Francophone networks, under the leadership of the FCFA – possibly through the mechanism of the national planning table – should initiate a review of how research and evaluation (by agencies) might be encouraged and supported in order to promote objective, evidence-based decision making about settlement practices. Research financing is, of course, important but there is a great deal that could be done collaboratively to implement some of the measures presented to CIC in the recent study entitled: Local Immigration Partnerships and the Réseaux en immigration francophone: Strategies for Increasing Alignment and Collaboration and for Developing Performance Measurement Tools (Available from: http://p2pcanada.ca/). As well, there are economies of scale that could be realized by forming agency partnerships to design studies and analyze large scale data sets. Finally, it would be useful to obtain a better understanding of the capacity constraints that currently impede agencies from expanding their analytic activities and developing a more robust evidence-base for their actions.

Recommendation 2:

Francophone networks, under the leadership of the FCFA (through the possible mechanism of the national planning table), should adopt key recommendations contained in: Agency of the Future - Report by the Information and Communications Technology Committee (Available from: http://p2pcanada.ca/). These include conducting a survey of how technology is currently used by agencies; developing a national plan for capitalizing on the potential opportunities that technology makes available; constructing a repository of promising technological practices in key areas (such as distance education); and offer technology training opportunities to agency staff.

Recommendation 3:

Either CIC or the FCFA should develop a national repository for promising practices by Francophone agencies. The repository would need to be based on analysis and hard evidence, as opposed to self–nomination. The repository should reach out beyond the Francophone community to include best practice examples from the wider anglophone settlement and integration sphere. To be effective, the practices would need to be carefully examined to determine whether they could be imported into Francophone contexts and scaled appropriately. To accomplish this, the FCFA might seek to establish reciprocal relations with provincial and national anglophone umbrella associations. The FCFA could also play a leadership role in soliciting the assistance of the RIFs for the nomination process.

Recommendation 4:

The RIFs, in collaboration with the FCFA and the RDEE, should examine the benefits of engaging various quasi-public institutions in the recruitment and inclusion activities undertaken by Francophone agencies. The evaluation should examine possible advantages in regard to greater access to community leaders and employers, enhanced municipal involvement, and greater ease in developing partnerships. If proven, a broad, systematic strategy of engaging educational institutions and other organizations, such as libraries and regional health agencies, could be developed. The analysis might begin by examining existing partnerships between francophone settlement organizations and universities and colleges.

Recommendation 5:

Building on the recommendations above, CIC should consider encouraging francophone agencies and francophone networks to establish a stronger evidence base to support decisions involving settlement and integration practices. CIC should also consider facilitating opportunities for agencies to transfer and share information around beneficial practices in key policy areas. CIC involvement could take the form of supplying research and technical expertise, moral suasion and leadership, and financial assistance.

In addition to fostering evidence-based decision-making and knowledge transfer, CIC should consider promoting the use of information and communication technologies by francophone agencies in order to deal with the geographic challenges presented by dispersed francophone populations. This could be done by tweaking calls for proposals (regarding services) to emphasize technological innovations and by supporting francophone networks - or institutions such as the FCFA - to build agency coalitions and to organize efforts to promote the use of communication technologies, such as distance education.

Finally, CIC might consider placing greater emphasis in its calls for proposals and service support on partnering activities, especially where such activities support bridging between new arrivals and institutions involved in newcomer reception.

Footnote:

As a footnote to the five recommendations – and an acknowledgement of current realities on the ground – the activities described above would, for the most part, need to be financed if they are to be implemented.

Theme 1: Practices to promote the hiring and retention of Francophone newcomers

Mentorship program

Host organization and location: Accès@Emploi - Edmonton, Alberta

Project overview

The goal of the Mentorship Program/Programme de Mentorat is to offer newly-arrived French-speaking immigrant professionals in Edmonton, mentoring support to facilitate their integration into the Canadian workforce in their field of expertise.

The project was the brainchild of Suzanne Corneau, Director General of Accès@Emploi Edmonton since 2002. It was initiated in late 2009, early 2010, when it became apparent that French-speaking immigrants were being excluded from mentorship programs because their command of English was not strong enough (immigrants need Canadian Language Benchmark Level 7 to register in English mentoring programs in Edmonton). Thus, these immigrant professionals were left on their own to navigate the labour market: having to obtain recognition of their training and certification by a professional licensing body in Alberta; having to perfect their command of English; and having to work out new job search strategies in an unfamiliar labour market. Unsurprisingly, in most cases, they were finding employment in positions where their training and skills were not fully utilized.

The Accès@Emploi office found itself dealing with frustrated clients who wanted additional concrete information about their specific areas of professional expertise. This led the agency to begin researching practices in other parts of the country – in Toronto and Quebec (in Quebec there are bilingual mentorship programs) – as well as in Edmonton where ERIEC (Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council) offers career mentoring in English. It quickly became apparent that a structured approach was required to providing information; one that went beyond a series of informal meetings between mentors and mentees.

The program that was devised is structured around a matching process that is instigated and managed by Accès@Emploi. The agency recruits suitable mentors from its network and selectively matches these mentors to individuals who are referred by agency counsellors to a central node (in effect, an agency employee). To facilitate this process, clients and mentees complete a questionnaire before enrolling in the programme. They then participate in a preparatory session that establishes objectives and a timetable for meetings – normally twice a month for a period of up to six months.

Accès@Emploi staff also participate in mentor-mentee meetings. Mentors are made party to an agreement (entente) that indicates that the process is voluntary and that mentors are not obligated to find work for mentees. The pool of mentors is drawn from community partners, including the Centre d’Accueil d’Établissement (CAE), Campus St. Jean, Les Aines and the Conseil de Developpement Economique.

One of the biggest challenges is finding French-speaking mentors to match the professional areas of the mentees. Below, the two groups are profiled:

Mentor profile
  • Experienced professional (including retirees)
  • Affiliated with professional licensing organizations and other relevant bodies in their field
  • Sound knowledge of current trends and of sought-after competencies in the job market
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Good knowledge of the challenges faced by immigrants who were not educated in Canada
  • Sensitivity and respect for other cultures
  • Can be an immigrant having experienced the challenges, firsthand
Mentee profile
  • Is an immigrant client eligible to work in Canada
  • Was trained in a profession that is recognized in Canada, or is about to become professionally accredited, and is facing barriers to practicing in Alberta.
  • Does not have access to a professional network in his/her field
  • Is an active client of Accès@Emploi: has a resume corresponding to his/her professional profile (in English and French); has participated in preparatory job search workshops; is motivated to participate in the mentoring program; and is open to continuous learning.
  • Has had his/her English proficiency assessed by Catholic Social Services (CSS).

When the program started, mentors were in demand in areas such as agronomy, engineering, and medicine. This has now shifted to finance, accounting and engineering.

The professional sectors addressed by the program include (but are not limited to):

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Law
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Administration/Management
  • Medical Science
  • Education
  • Agriculture
  • Marketing
  • Social Work
  • Civil Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Translation
  • Human Resources
  • Psychology

An important goal of the program is to help newly-arrived immigrants decide if they should stay in their sector of expertise. This goal is more effectively met by mentors in the mentees’ field of work describing Canadian realities, than having the information relayed by Accès@Emploi employees.

The mentorship programme encourages mentees to develop short, medium, and long-term plans. Before the program was instituted, only short and mid-term planning seemed to take place with immigrants generally attempting to immediately gain employment in their field. Long-term planning has encouraged newcomers to take the time to first learn English and to have their diplomas or degrees recognized by the appropriate accreditation bodies. It has also created an opportunity for theme to be more fully introduced to the resources that are available in Edmonton.

In terms of the program’s evolution, at the outset, it was felt that numerous meetings between the mentor and mentee would be necessary. It soon became apparent, however, that only 2 or 3 sessions were needed, depending on the individual case, because after a couple of meetings mentees would appreciate how long it would take to learn English and would be able to decide whether to continue in their field of specialization, or to change course.

The program, funded by Alberta Employment and Immigration, has accommodated approximately 12 mentees/mentors per year, although with recent funding cuts, these numbers will decrease. Accès@Emploi’s budget was cut by 25 per cent, which translates into a loss for the agency as a whole of four full-time positions and additional reductions in staff hours.

It took approximately 6 months to research and develop the mentoring program. The program budget included salary for one staff member for one and a half days per week. Because of budget cuts, Accès@Emploi will be changing the format of the program so concentrates exclusively on planning and information sessions with one mentor for every four mentees, instead of the current one-to-one matching.

No new technologies other than the website were used to deliver the program. Skype remains a possibility if the program is extended beyond Edmonton.

Outcomes

Formal evaluations of the program have not been undertaken so empirical evidence is unavailable. Only qualitative, anecdotal assessments and testimonials could be examined. These have been profiled in "Le nouvel arrivant francophone", in a monthly information bulletin published by the Centre d'accueil et d'établissement du Nord de l'Alberta. Among the benefits cited in the testimonials are the connections that mentees form with mentors, the assistance that the program offers mentees in preparing their resumes, interview training, and the references that mentees are provided.

Even though program numbers are small, Accès@Emploi was adamant that the impact of the program has been significant. As well, since mentors are volunteers, the program has not been excessively costly and is the only one of its type in Edmonton.

In terms of program uniqueness, a similar mentoring program for Francophone newcomers would appear to exist in Calgary, though the Accès@Emploi interviewees did not appear to be familiar with it. Instead, it seems that the Edmonton service was created, from the ground up, replicating - to the extent possible - practices found in other parts of the country. Complete replication was not possible because of the additional challenges faced by Francophone newcomers. Chief among these is the need for Francophone immigrants to acquire English language skills in order to interact with the larger Edmonton community as well as to find work in their field of expertise or in a related field.

The main benefits attributed by Accès@Emploi to its mentorship program, based on testimonials and client reports, are:

Benefits for the mentee
  • Finding a confidant who provides support, encouragement and guidance
  • Getting first person information about his/her profession in Canada
  • Gaining a better understanding of the Canadian mentality and organizational culture in his/her field of employment
  • Discovering different ways of thinking and new perspectives
  • Integrating and growing both personally and professionally
  • Having more visibility on a professional level
  • Being recognized, valued and developing confidence
  • Developing a professional network and receiving information on professional associations
  • Getting help and information to facilitate insertion in his/her field of employment
  • Getting help in effecting a match between his/her profile and available jobs
  • Reconnecting with his/her professional identity
Benefits for the mentor
  • Improving his/her leadership skills
  • Creating value for his/her profession
  • Benefiting from contact with people who think differently and obtaining original perspectives
  • Sharing his/her experience and expertise with someone from a different culture

A number of factors both internal and external to the organization were felt to account for the program's success. Chief among these was access to staff trained in human resources management, along with staff dedication and commitment.

Access to a receptive network of potential mentees was also viewed as essential. In this regard, the resources and expertise on tap at the Campus St. Jean constituted vital assets. Participation in immigration symposia and other events at Campus St. Jean provided Accès@Emploi staff with credibility, profile and contacts - all essential for recruiting mentors and securing placements.

A final factor that contributed to the program's success was the physical location of francophone groups in "La Cité francophone", two large complexes located across the street from Campus St. Jean (Alberta's only francophone university campus). Thus, francophone university (professional) expertise was conveniently-located next door to the agency. Several francophone immigrants have also opened businesses in La Cité and have themselves become mentors.

Potential for transferability

The prospects for replicating the practice would appear to be fairly strong provided two conditions can be met. The first of these is access to motivated staff with training in the field of human resources. This is unlikely to constitute an insurmountable barrier. The more difficult condition is access to volunteer Francophone mentors whose expertise extends to a broad range of professions. This would likely limit program transferability to mid to large-sized cities; as well, a case can be made that success of the program requires a partnership and proximity with a Francophone institution such as Campus St. Jean, chiefly for the professional network it offers and the credibility it lends the agency. Barring these factors, it would be difficult to replicate the program's success.

Interviewee(s)
  • Madame Suzanne Corneau, Executive Director, Accès@Emploi, Edmonton
  • Madame Marcelline Forestier, Employment Counsellor and Program Coordinator, Etude Emploi and Mentorship Program, Accès@Emploi, Edmonton
Supporting documentation
  • Website: www.accesemploi.net/en/mentorship/index.html
  • February-September 2014 monthly reports submitted to the Government of Alberta
  • 2 Questionnaires: Mentor and Mentee
  • Testimonials: pages 1-3 of "Le Nouvel arrivant francophone" ISSN 1920-4434 - Vol. 05, No. 07, March 2014.
  • Carnet d'information sur le programme de mentorat
  • ERIEC - Career Mentorship Program brochure (English program in Edmonton)
  • Call for proposals: GRITI - Groupe de recherche sur l'inter/transculturalité et l'immigration - Knowledge Transfer; Knowledge from Practice, Production and Mobilization of Knowledge for an Inclusive Community, Campus St. Jean, October 11-13, 2012.
  • Interview transcripts

La Bonne Affaire

Host organization and location: RDEE - Toronto, Ontario

Project overview

"La Bonne Affaire/Opportunities for All" was the brainchild of Karine Morin and was launched in April 2010. It is a RDEE Ontario initiative aimed at promoting Francophone newcomer employment in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as entrepreneurship among francophone newcomers and francophone communities. Because it does not exist elsewhere in Francophone communities, La Bonne Affaire is considered a "pioneer" program in Ontario.

The reason for implementing the project was that francophone communities in Ontario are facing labour shortages in key economic sectors such as IT, skilled trades, education and health. The project informs, trains, and prepares francophone newcomers for the Ontario labour market so they can meet evolving employer expectations. La Bonne Affaire also identifies potential newcomer entrepreneurs who need support to develop business plans in order to successfully initiate and sustain their businesses. The program - which is restricted to francophones - centres around a 3-6 month professional coaching partnership. Services are free for both newcomers and employers. This is described below.

La Bonne Affaire has two major thrusts:

Employment promotion:

  • Raising awareness of SMEs in regard to recruitment and retention processes
  • Teaching newcomers about cultural differences in the professional environment
  • Training and assisting SMEs on the best practices for diversity management.

Entrepreneurship:

  • Developing entrepreneurial skills in immigrants and members of francophone communities, and helping them to realize their business plans
  • Offering business leadership coaching and supporting the professional network development

According to La Bonne Affaire, the two areas of intervention - employment promotion and entrepreneurship - are interdependent. Training recent immigrants and newcomers for a particular employment market only makes sense if business owners are first "sensitized" to the fact that the new arrivals represent "value-added" for their businesses, bringing with them new networks, new ideas, and bilingual skills. As a result of this sensitization, businesses send job ads to La Bonne Affaire to be posted on their website.

The Bonne Affaire program is funded by CIC, the Trillium Foundation and FedNord and is active in communities across Ontario, with significant Francophone concentrations: Toronto/Mississauga, Ottawa, Sudbury, North Bay, Windsor, and London. Twelve employees - seven half time and five full time - are involved in the program.

According to La Bonne Affaire, employers benefit from a five-step process that entails:

  1. An assessment and analysis of training needs and objectives
  2. Customization of training tools according to employer needs
  3. Implementation of the necessary training (development of training schedules, customization of training manuals, etc.)
  4. Support for the integration of La Bonne Affaire's recommendations
  5. Post-training assessment and continuous coaching (for 3 to 6 months)

Jobseekers benefit from skill acquisition and related coaching, including help with:

  • Résumé writing and editing
  • Cover letter writing and editing
  • Interview preparation
  • Networking (networking workshop)
  • Creating a career plan
  • Workshop acculturation (workshop on the Canadian workplace)
  • Coaching' to assist professional integration into the workplace (3 to 6 months)

During the interview, it was noted that certain Anglophone programmes deliver similar services to those deployed by La Bonne Affaire.

Outcomes

According to data published by La Bonne Affaire or conveyed during the interview, the agency's activities have resulted in some 145 hirings of newly arrived immigrants. As well, in 2013, staff delivered more than 120 workshops across Ontario to inform newcomers about the Canadian labour market; internationally, La Bonne Affaire participated in four Destination Canada fairs that have facilitated the recruitment and hiring of immigrants from abroad in their field of expertise.

According to the interviewees, the program's success led to its funding being renewed by both CIC and FedNor for an additional three year period from 2013 to 2016. The chart sets out the agencies claims:

Results achieved 2012-2013:
Results achieved 2012-2013 described below.
Text version: Results achieved 2012-2013
Individuals who are aware and informed of the settlement and employability services 2,300
Newcomers trained in workplace integration 507
Newcomers hired by companies 145
Aware and informed SMEs 186

La Bonne Affaire did not make any formal evaluations available to the analysis team though it was indicated that an evaluation had been conducted by the University of Moncton (Edmunston campus). Support for the program comes, instead, from written testimonials that are available on the organization's website, as well as in a video. These cite the quality of interventions with immigrants by La Bonne Affaire staff as well as the organization's success in ensuring Francophone participation at employer job fairs.

According to the interviewees, a critical factor which contributes to the program's success is the fact that nearly all staff working for La Bonne Affaire are themselves former immigrants who are able to bring professional and personal expertise, as well as direct experience, to bear on the program. All staff are trained in human resource management and possess an excellent understanding of both francophone exigencies and immigration realties. This, according to La Bonne Affaire, allows employees to provide rapid, accurate service that helps clients to integrate quickly and move swiftly into employment. A similar explanation was offered for La Bonne Affaire's success in dealing with businesses. Human resource experts who are themselves immigrants is the innovation that drives the program.

Another internal factor which contributes to the success of the program, according to the interviewees, is the intense one-on-one coaching and follow-up that is provided to clients. After an initial meeting, which might be two hours in length, the organization always follows up, offering additional coaching and morale-boosting. The follow-ups occur via email and telephone.

The final element concerns the fact that La Bonne Affaire is active within a network that includes Le Collège Boréale and the YMCA and that it works with employers as well as newcomers. The employers that La Bonne Affaire is able to access by virtue of its participation in recruitment activities, job fairs and employer awareness counseling allows the organization to tailor its programs and its counseling to actual jobs. La Bonne Affaire's network and its employer strategy help the agency to expand job opportunities for its newcomer clients.

Potential for transferability

The fact that La Bonne Affaire is active across Ontario speaks to the fact that the 'technology' used by the organization is transferable. The agency's claims that its success is related to the interdependence between its activities with employers and those with newcomers suggests that the strategy is likely to be most effective in regions, where there exists a twin concentration of Francophone residents as well as employers interested in hiring Francophone newcomers. The fact that similar practices also exist on the Anglophone front further boosts the notion that the practice can travel.

Another element that would likely aid in transferring the practice is the potential for the service delivery agency to establish productive relations with organizations such as the YMCA and Collège Boréale. Such links raise the agency's credibility as well as providing opportunities for recruitment, networking, and professional assistance.

A key success factor identified by the La Bonne Affaire interviewees centres on the attributes of staff working for the agency. The interviewees emphasized the understanding and relations that staff are able to develop with newcomers; it is important to recognize, however, that staff must be credible not only with immigrant clients but also with employers. The construction of this dual expertise is, likely, an important component of the program's overall success and a factor that would need to be replicated.

Interviewees
  • Valérie Sniadoch, Directeur du Service Employabilité et Immigration du RDEE Ontario
  • Ouarda Lakhouache, Conseillère en Ressources Humaines - Human Resources Advisor
Supporting documentation

Theme 2: Practices for integrating newcomers into Francophone institutions

Trousse d’information d'éducation en langue française pour les nouveaux arrivants

Host organization and location: Élargir l’espace francophone - Le CLE – Ottawa, Ontario

Project overview

Trousse d’information en langue française has been in existence for only one year and is the fruit of a collaboration among multiple organizations, including the RIF de l'Est de l'Ontario, Élargir l’espace francophone, Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’est de l’Ontario (CSDCEO), Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO), Conseil des écoles catholiques de Centre-Est (CECCE), le Centre d’éducation et formation de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEFEO), l’Université de Guelph – le campus d’Alfred, l’Université d’Ottawa, la Cite collégiale, le Centre Moi j’apprends, la Route du Savoir, and le Centre a la P.A.G.E.. Since its inception, the project has been gradually extended across Ontario through the mobilization of local Francophone partner agencies.

According to the interviewees, the Système d’éducation en langue française launched a campaign to promote French education throughout the province using a massive publicity blitz. Central to the campaign was a desire that all francophone and allophone newcomers to the province have the information they would need to make informed decisions about registering their children - or themselves - in French language institutions, schools, and colleges, or in bilingual universities and other educational institutions. The Trousse d’information en langue française was designed to aid in these decisions and was developed by the community liaison officers with Élargir l’espace francophone (EEF) and community partners. The project was initially conceived by Daniel-Pierre Bourdeau, agent de liaison communautaire for EEF in the east.

The goal of the trousse (information kit) is to provide, in one comprehensive package, all of the documentation that newcomers need in connection with French-language education services for the Ontario region (east, south, north) in which they live. To achieve this, as many implicated players as possible are brought to the table to: “combiner toutes les forces et combiner tous les documents.... rassembler le matériel ... et discussion commune... et de cartographier pour chaque région qui est responsable des services en français.

The trousse is produced in both official languages and is available in both paper and online electronic formats. In the online version, newcomers are able to click on a Flash button listing different Ontario cities or regions (on the right side of a web page offering a map of Ontario) to obtain a listing of local,

French-language education institutions and key community services available in French. An overview document with important website links is also provided in eight of the most commonly spoken languages.

In the paper version, the trousse provides an information card for each of the listed sites setting out the coordinates of daycares, elementary and secondary schools, adult centres of education and training, and colleges and universities. The card presents, at a glance, the full range of educational institutions and supportive services in a given region. A mini-kit is also available which assembles information, including phone numbers and other contact information, about the twelve French-language school boards in the province as well as post-secondary institutions offering programs in French.

The project is financed by the Ministry of Education (Ontario), and is supported by local school boards, colleges and universities, and community partners. According to the interviewees, all the partners make a contribution ... for example, the Ministry of Education pays for the pochette/folder while other partners contribute information sheets. Staff salaries are financed by the Ministry of Education which decided to augment funding in 2014 in order to assist with the preparation of materials and technical services for the website.

Outcomes

According to the interviewees, it is too early to formally evaluate the project, although this is being planned. Project results are currently assessed in an informal, anecdotal manner. For example, registrations in French-language schools have apparently increased, a result that the interviewees feel may be attributable to the influence of the trousse; as well, it was suggested that the project contributed to a convergence of French-language education institutions as a result of bringing together all the educational partners, including the Catholic and public school boards, community institutions, and newcomers.

Other general claims made for the project include the fact that it supports federal and Ontario goals of fostering welcoming communities and promoting the inclusion of newcomers into OLMCs; also that the trousse was contributing to the development of a francophone identity by raising awareness among anglophones and francophiles of “le fait français”. In this regard, the interviewees also asserted that, notwithstanding the difficulty of mobilizing the private sector in “social causes”, the project has successfully brought together community, education and private sector institutions. An example of private sector interest was the distribution of the trousse at Destination Canada fairs. The resulting synergy was deemed – by the interviewees - to constitute an innovative aspect of the project.

In terms of client testimonials, newcomers appear to value the fact that the material provided in the trousse is comprehensive and is organized into a single package. Other provinces, notably Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have expressed interest in developing their own trousse.

Potential for transferability

This project – which is constructed around a clear, simple idea - has the potential to be transferred to other provinces, as well as other sectors. The essential ingredients are a dedicated team that is adept at seeking out and constructing partnerships and obtaining commitments from diverse institutions.

External factors include having willing partners who recognize the importance of collaboration. The list of partners will vary, depending on the sector that is targeted; however, provincial agencies, municipalities, and community organizations will generally be included. Strong leadership on the part of the implicated provincial authority – in the case of the trousse, the Ministry of Education – is also essential, as is core funding for convening stakeholders, gathering and updating information, publishing, and information and communications technology.

Interviewees:
  • Louis Claude Tremblany
    le CLÉ
    Director General
    lctremblay@lecle.com
  • Mélanie Chevrier
    le CLÉ
    mchevrier@lecle.com
  • Christiane Montgiraud
    Ministère de l'éducation, Direction de l'éducation
    Conseillère principale politiques et programmes.
    (416) 325-2128 (Bureau)
    Christiane.Montgiraud@ontario.ca
  • Mireille Coulombe Anifowose
    le CLÉ
    Agente de liaison
    (416)705-5681 (bureau)
    mcoulombe-anifowose@lecle.com
    13 Cobblestone Court
    Brampton ON  L6R2S1
  • Michel Perron
    le CLÉ
    Agente de liaison communautaire
    (705)794-6897 (bureau)
    (705)499-5982 (mobile)
    mperron@lecle.com
    447, avenue McKeown
    North Bay, ON  P1B 9S9
  • Rachel Quesnel-Le CLÉ
    (705)920-4149 (mobile)
    rquesnel@lecle.com
    170 rue Queen
    Sturgeon Falls ON  P2B 3L2
  • Daniel-Pierre Bourdeau
    le CLÉ
    Agent de liaison communautaire
    613-747-7021 (bureau)
    613-298-2944 (mobile)
    dpbourdeau@lecle.com
    2445 Blvd St. Laurent
    Ottawa ON  K1G6C3
Supporting documentation
  • Website: www.espacefranco.com/trousseelf (available in French only)
  • Le CLE Annual Report 2011/13 (paper format)
  • Sample mock-up for mini trousse
  • Transcript (abridged version)

Direction des services aux étudiantes et étudiants Bureau International

Host organization and location: Université de Saint-Boniface, Saint-Boniface, Manitoba

Project overview

The Université de Saint-Boniface (USB) has been involved in the recruitment of international students for over 15 years. The Direction des services aux étudiantes et étudiants (DSAE) has recently established a specialized unit, the Bureau International (BI), whose primary function is to assist in the recruitment, reception and integration of international students at the Saint-Boniface campus. The USB campus includes regular university programs as well as a technical and professional studies division (ETP). As of September 2014, 1041 students were enrolled in university programs and 403 students in the ETP. 21% of this enrolment was made up of international students.

The BI was established to address the following priorities:

  • To implement international recruitment strategies consistent with USB's academic and para-academic programs
  • To ensure that qualified potential applicants receive information and guidance to support their applications
  • To coordinate and deliver the pre-departure services, reception, and orientation and integration services offered by USB and the broader francophone community
  • To help secure housing on campus or within the francophone community
  • To work with other student services (e.g. English language training, counselling, cultural and spiritual services and Student Council) to develop initiatives that support international student reception and integration
  • To make students aware of community services, such as health care and social services, as well as cultural and social activities "en français et en anglais"
  • To advise international students on their rights and responsibilities as holders of student permits and employment permits
  • To assist with access to counselling and related information for graduates considering their immigration options (under provincial and federal admission streams)

In summary, the BI seeks to achieve the following objectives:

  • Immediate: To welcome students and to help them address personal, social, cultural and academic issues and challenges that accompany initial enrolment
  • Medium term: To encourage international students to participate in university and community-based activities, including meaningful work experience
  • Long term: To collaborate with local OLMC organizations to offer encouragement and opportunities for international graduates wishing to make Saint- Boniface, or Manitoba, their permanent home

Target groups

The groups targeted by the BI are new and returning students, as well as students who have completed their academic programs and are working in order to obtain Canadian work experience. International students at USB come, primarily, from Europe and from countries belonging to the African francophonie.

Finance and administration

A specific breakdown of the cost of the BI services was not provided. In terms of personnel, the BI has a full time coordinator and an assistant who contributes .8 of a person-year. The coordinator reports to the Director of the DSAE.

The University derives revenues from admission and related student fees equal to $4.7 M. International students, who make up one-fifth of the student population at USB, are charged a differential fee equal to 100% of the standard admission fare for Manitoba residents. As noted in the previous section, the BI is at the core of a personalized approach to recruiting and integrating international students at USB. This approach has been evaluated and perfected over the years so as to meet the evolving needs of students from an increasing number of countries in an increasingly competitive market. It is noteworthy that offshore recruitment to bolster enrollment and increase revenues involves a growing number of institutions with expansionary plans. In this regard, Quebec dominates the Francophone 'market'. Quebec's student recruitment activities account for over 95% of all French speaking students destined to Canada. This can be explained by a combination of Quebec's 'brand recognition', a series of special international agreements, and the fact that Quebec has reduced or eliminated many differential fees.

How then do smaller institutions from OLMC's compete in this arena? The USB has developed a strategy that emphasizes the uniqueness of its institution and its one-on-one support. This has been credited with reducing attrition at the application and enrollment stage, as well as boosting retention and graduation rates. Students are welcomed and integrated not only into the institution but also into the broader community, developing a sense of belonging and a positive outlook on a future within the community that extends well beyond graduation.

As part of its core strategy, the USB underlines the benefits of living in an OLMC - including the opportunity to learn both of Canada's official languages - and stresses the province's desire to retain bilingual graduates who are interested in permanent employment within Manitoba. USB also underscores the cultural and religious diversity of the institution (and the province) and the emphasis that has been placed on respect, collegiality and collaboration. This emphasis on diversity is reinforced by the composition of faculty which is representative of the student body.

The provision of personal support to help deal with challenges related to housing, health, climatic conditions, as well as other initial social and cultural issues, are all critical to USB's expanding success in recruiting international students. Word of mouth and personal testimonials have also played a critical role in USB's recruitment success, as evidenced by the growing number of international students from particular source countries.

Outcomes

In 2003, USB had an enrollment of 69 international students in its university and technical college programs. By 2013, this had grown nearly 400% to 233 students, with an additional population of 149 students with permanent residence status. The result was a dramatic increase in the institution's ethnic and cultural diversity.

The USB has partnered with the Canadian Bureau for International Education to conduct a survey of its international student body. This survey examined the factors that led students to choose Canada and the USB. Specifically, respondents were asked about the factors that determined their choice and the programs and services they viewed as critical. The survey spanned the period starting at pre-departure preparation, through arrival, and ending with integration into USB and the community at large. The survey also examined the benefits that students hoped to derive from their experience, the types of interactions that developed, and students' assessments of those interactions. Lastly, the survey asked about post graduation intentions. The results offer evidence of USB's and BI's successful interventions:

Reasons for choosing Canada
(respondents stating ‘somewhat to very important’)
Secure (personal security) place to study 100%
Potential to work during academic year 95%
Potential for working fulltime post graduation 96%
Possibility of obtaining permanent residence 92%
Presence of family or friends 60%
Reasons for choosing USB
(respondents stating ‘somewhat to very important’)
Quality educational programs 95%
Knowing someone who is studying or has studied at USB 57%
Recruitment efforts were clear and well organized 79%
Characteristics of the surrounding community 79%
Ease of application process
(respondents stating they experienced ‘no problems’)
Passing the language entrance tests 74%
Obtaining letters of acceptance from the institution 90%
Communicating with the institution 81%
Recognition of education obtained in country of origin 38%
Utility of Canadian education
(respondents stating ‘average to excellent’ results)
Preparation for the Canadian labour market 95%
Preparation for further education 94%
Acquisition of professional competencies 94%
Better understanding of persons from different backgrounds 84%
Equipping applicants to be active and informed citizens 94%

Potential for transferability

Efforts to increase the effectiveness of international student recruitment are on the radar of most universities, and especially institutions offering post-secondary education in French in OLMCs. Insofar as student recruitment also contributes to the sustainability of OLMCs, interest in university and college practices extends beyond academia to include the communities themselves, as well as federal and provincial authorities concerned with recruitment and retention.

Looking at the potential for transferability in its narrowest form - increasing the number of francophone students destined to academic institutions - data provided by USB confirm the existence of a sizeable potential 'market' for ideas relating to recruitment and retention:

  • Université de Moncton has a foreign student population approaching 20% of its 6,000 member student body. Moncton is hoping to raise this to 25%.
  • Campus St. Jean at the University of Alberta is looking to increase its international student population to 10% of its enrolment.
  • University of Ottawa, the largest post-secondary francophone institution outside Quebec, is intending to boost recruitment. In 2012, the university hosted 3,400 international students, 8% of the total student body.
  • Saint Paul University (Ottawa) hosted 73 international students in a population of 750 students. Recruitment increased by 30% in 2013.
  • Saint Anne University (Nova Scotia) has 364 students, including 42 international students. It aims to increase this population to 20% of the student body.

Given the rather modest staff investment by USB in international student recruitment and retention, the program's success can most likely be attributed as much to USB's relations with the Saint Boniface community and with local organizations, as to the quality of the services purveyed by the BI itself. Consequently, the ability to leverage community assistance, as much as USB's delivery of individualized services, would need to be replicated by educational institutions aiming to achieve USB's success. The particularities of this leveraging reflect the interests of the student population, not only in education but also in immigration; hence the need to secure involvement by organizations that are concerned with settlement and with economic, social and cultural inclusion.

The Direction des services aux étudiantes et étudiants is a member of the Réseau en immigration francophone (RIF) which includes representatives from a significant cross section of community service providers and agency representatives spanning housing, health, economic development, and education. The involvement of local agencies helps anchor students into the Francophone community surrounding the university, creating a welcoming environment that encourages attachment to Saint Boniface. Assistance with housing and employment are especially important contributors to retention. In order to replicate USB's success, other institutions would need to develop similar community and organizational ties.

The practices by USB's Bureau International recognize that students are motivated to study in Canada not only for educational reasons but, equally, for the opportunity to remain permanently. To this end, USB has established an effective array of programs, not unlike those offered by other academic institutions. The difference would appear to lie in USB's active involvement in students' long term, post graduation plans. This involvement expresses itself in the quality of assistance that USB provides to students to help them secure employment and to obtain advice from provincial and federal immigration authorities, as well as from professional immigration consultants, on how to remain in Canada after graduating. The importance of these measures is readily apparent in the USB survey and the positive responses to questions about further education, employment, and the acquisition of professional competencies.

The final element that contributes to USB's success is Manitoba's whole of government commitment to using immigration to boost the province's population and to foster prosperity. This strategy, which Manitoba has wholeheartedly embraced through its Provincial Nominee Program, has had a significant impact on public awareness and support for newcomer inclusion. This has, in turn, led to receptive newcomer policies and numerous avenues for newcomer recruitment. As evident from the USB survey, the resulting opportunities hold deep appeal for international students and produce follow-on migration. To full realize USB's success would require a similarly fertile policy and community eco-system.

Interviewee

M Christian Perron, Director, Direction des services aux étudiants, Université de Saint-Boniface

Supporting documentation

Sensibilisation et éducation civique des minorités raciales et ethnoculturelles francophones

Host organization and location: Regroupement ethnoculturel des parents francophones de l'Ontario et l'Association française des municipalités de l'Ontario

Project overview:

The Regroupement ethnoculturel des parents francophones de l'Ontario (REPFO) is a non-profit provincial organization that offers a broad array of programs and services to newcomer parents. The organization's stated mission is to work via partnerships to inform and educate parents so that they can advocate for their rights and responsibilities within the Ontario school system and participate more broadly in the electoral process. Established in 1988, REPFO has developed a strong and credible reputation within minority racial and ethnocultural francophone communities (MREF). This has allowed REPFO to successfully combine its efforts with those of mainstream organizations in order to address issues related to civic engagement, as well as safety, social integration, and interculturalism.

Programs currently offered by REPFO include:

  • Parent-school interaction - providing newcomer parents with training to better understand Ontario's education system and to educate them on their rights and responsibilities with respect to their children's school
  • Participation in democracy - lessons on participation in school governance, as well as an overview of school boards, of municipal, provincial and federal electoral processes, and how to get involved
  • Adapting to a Canadian cultural context - understanding differences and opportunities available to parents
  • Strategies to prevent youths from dropping-out of the educational system, for dealing with safety and social issues, for crime prevention, and for taking advantage of training opportunities and improving economic standing
  • Understanding delinquency and how to address it
  • Representation - the role of REPFO, links to other support networks, and links to government and elected representatives

The case study reports on two phases of the project: an initial embryonic phase that began in Ottawa in 2003 and continued through 2006; and a second phase, launched in 2009, that expanded the program to include Toronto, London and Sudbury. As a result of efforts by REPFO and its partner, l'Association française des municipalités de l'Ontario (AFMO), the project continues to operate, but on a limited budget.

Phase 1 pilot project

The initial pilot project was entitled "la sensibilisation à l'éducation civique des minorités raciales et ethnoculturelles francophones en Ontario". It was initiated in 2003 by REPFO and by the AFMO shortly after that year's school board and municipal elections. An assessment of voter participation rates in Ottawa communities with a high density of francophone newcomers had revealed that many immigrants were not exercising their voting rights and were not getting involved in the electoral process, even when the candidates were members of MREF communities. The project was inspired by the belief that the democratic process requires all citizens to exercise their fundamental rights in relation to electoral processes at the school board, municipal, provincial and federal levels. Understanding and acting on those rights - as voters or as candidates - was seen as vital to newcomers' civic and political integration.

REPFO's initial assessment - backed by a survey and community consultations - revealed common problems among MREF communities. In particular, community members shared a sense of confusion and lacked information about the electoral process. Many newcomers were unaware of their rights, of the issues at stake, and of candidates' platforms. An important reason for this was an inability to read campaign-related information sent to the general public. Moreover, MREF members who did vote frequently spoiled their ballots by incorrectly specifying their preferences.

Building on the survey and consultations, REPFO and the AFMO developed a series of information and educational sessions targeting MREF communities. The sessions also helped to identify participants interested in becoming candidates in the 2006 election. These participants were enrolled in a 30-hour, formal, candidate development program designed and delivered by REPFO in consultation with experts in the field. The 30-hour sessions were divided into three 10-hour blocks focusing on: local government and the role of elected officials; leadership; and strategy and election campaigns. Participants were provided with training manuals and graduates were invited to a refresher session six months after the completion of their original training.

Financial and administrative costs for the initial phase of the project (2003-2008) were covered by REPFO and AFMO under their base budgets. Partner and volunteer contributions sustained the project until secure funding was procured.

Phase 1 outcomes

682 individuals attended eight separate sessions designed to inform and educate community members. Of the 682 attendees, 86 signed up for the candidate development program.

The results of the Ottawa pilot project were formally evaluated in 2007 by the firm of J.D. Gabikini and Associates. Their report observes that electoral participation rates rose in Ottawa from 33% to 54% in 2006, while participation rates for MREF-intensive areas (the same ones that were analyzed in 2003) rose from 44% to 79%. There was also an increase of 80% over 2003 in the number of MREF volunteers engaged in politically-related activities. Of special interest was the fact that, in 2006, there were 10 MREF candidates who ran in the election, though none was successful.

Other positive impacts included:

  • An increase in the number of ethnocultural organizations willing to assist in enumerating voters in their communities
  • Increased volunteer recruitment for community activities
  • Improvement in programs and services
  • Increased involvement in REPFO and AFMO activities
  • Interest by other cities (Toronto) in offering similar training sessions
  • A dramatic increase in the number of election candidates
  • Twelve individuals indicated an interest in presenting themselves as candidates in the next election

Phase 2 pilot project expansion

Following the positive assessment of the Ottawa project, REPFO and the AFMO decided to seek financial support from the Trillium Fund and from the Ontario Department of Education's "Élargir l'espace francophone" initiative in order to roll out the program to Sudbury, Toronto, and London. The application was successful and funding was approved for 2009-2010. The Trillium Foundation contributed some $230,000 over the two-year period.

The experience and outcomes gained in Phase 1 provided the foundation for the expansion to the other cities. This was facilitated by the fact that the resources and training developed in Ottawa were generic and transferable to other centers. As well, REPFO and the AFMO had constituent associations and partnerships in the expansion cities, so logistical and local supports were readily available.

In addition to delivering information and education sessions in the four cities, the project also focused on creating deployable resources, including training and outreach sessions that could be delivered to other communities in Ontario. The outreach component was supported by the development of a website - www.tondroit.ca (available in French only) - which served as a repository for information and resources generated by the project on the topic of civic governance. The repository was designed to help individuals in other Ontario OLM communities who were interested in running for school boards or in municipal elections.

Although funding ended in 2010, the initiative has been maintained by REPFO and its partners, albeit on a much smaller scale. Operations continue in Toronto and the Ottawa REPFO was active in the 2014 municipal and school trustee elections, though MREF candidates were not elected. Activities in London and Sudbury are close to a standstill.

Phase 2 outcomes

The expansion phase of the project was evaluated in 2011 by the Centre Canadien de Leadership en évaluation (CLÉ), which surveyed project partners, elected officials and participants in the project's education and training sessions. According to the evaluation, the project "L'intégration et participation francophone aux élections municipales et scolaires 2010" met its objectives and raised the awareness of MREF members about the issues at stake in the municipal election. The project also had a positive impact on the perceptions of community members regarding their ability to influence educational and municipal systems.

According to the evaluation, MREF members in Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury and London indicated an increased knowledge of:

  • opportunities and challenges at the municipal and school level
  • the role of school trustees and municipal counselors
  • the role of various levels of government in Canada
  • options and means to intervene in administrative and political decision-making
  • the election process for municipalities and school boards
  • how to develop and run an election campaign

The evaluators ascribed the project's success to:

  • relevant and timely training and reference materials
  • wide geographic coverage and recruitment of numerous participants
  • support for former trainees and clarity regarding ongoing guidance and help
  • robust communications aimed at elected officials and program administrators to maintain their interest and expand their involvement
  • the availability of current, updated information in an accessible format

Potential for transferability

This project was selected as a promising and innovative practice because of its unique focus on civic and political inclusion. A number of general observations can be made regarding transferability:

  • The program was successfully expanded beyond Ottawa to both larger and smaller cities thus confirming the possibility of transferring and scaling the design.
  • A design framework and templates for teaching lessons about the operation of different governance structures, voting practices, and electoral involvement, have been developed and tested with a view to extending the civic engagement program to OLMCs across Ontario.
  • Community size would not appear to be an impediment to MREF involvement. The engagement of MREFs in OLM community politics (municipal and local school boards) has been facilitated by the smaller size of Francophone communities. An increase in newcomer involvement on the boards and staff of francophone organizations has been evident.
  • The training and information 'technologies' deployed by the project to deliver instruction - including the engagement of local organizations, itinerant services, and distance education - require local, logistical support. In the case study, this support was supplied by REPFO and AFMO through constituent associations and partnerships.
  • In the absence of ongoing financial support for the project, replication would depend on the ability of host organizations to mobilize and organize volunteer resources. Credibility with local Francophone educational institutions would also be vital, as would the support of municipalities.
Interviewees:
  • M Farhan Hassen, Executive Director, REPFO Ottawa
  • Mme Jacqueline Noiseux, Executive Director, AFMO, Ottawa
Supporting documentation
  • Regroupement ethnoculturel des parents francophones de l'Ontario http://repfo.ca/ (available in French only)
  • Association française des municipalités de l'Ontario www.afmo.on.ca
  • www.tondroit.ca (available in French only)
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation www.otf.ca
  • Centre Canadien de leadership en évaluation www.leCLE.com (available in French only)
  • Evaluation report J.D. Gabikini and Associates November 2007
  • Evaluation report Le CLÉ juin 2011

Theme 3: Delivery of settlement services in French to Francophone newcomers

Immigration francophone Nouvelle-Écosse (IFNE) Services pré-départ

Host organization and location: Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle Écosse (FANE) - Immigration francophone

Project overview

In 2003, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse (FANE) signed on to the national strategic plan to increase immigration to official language minority communities across Canada. In 2006, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration and the FANE signed a tri-partite agreement establishing the Immigration francophone de Nouvelle-Écosse (IFNE) center. IFNE is the main provider of reception, settlement and integration services to French-speaking immigrants in Nova Scotia. As a referral service and the lead for the RIF, it partners with institutions such as the Université St. Anne, which has a campus in Halifax and in the Baie St. Marie region where some francophone immigrants have settled.

While the array of IFNE newcomer services is consistent with those delivered to other official language minority communities in Canada, one particular delivery approach is the subject of this case study: IFNE is the sole agency delivering pre-departure services to francophone immigrants destined to Nova Scotia.

Pre-departure services are of growing interest to governments and NGOs in the settlement sector. Analysis suggests that early intervention leads to significant improvements in newcomers' early settlement and integration prospects. Deciding which services to offer, how to deliver those services, and how to integrate them with Canada-based assistance is far from settled. For this reason, the experiences and outcomes realized by different pre-departure services, including those for francophone minorities, is of keen interest to governments and NGOs.

In Nova Scotia, pre-departure services are promoted on-line through the Nova Scotia Start program which can be found on the Office of Immigration website. The services are available in both official languages. To be eligible for the program, persons must reside outside the province and fall within one of the following categories: they must have been approved under the Provincial Nominee Program; they must be outside Canada and awaiting finalization of their application for permanent residence; or, they must be in possession of a permanent residence visa and preparing to depart for Canada.

In 2012, the Office of Immigration contracted with FANE-IFNE to deliver pre-departure assistance to eligible francophone candidates who register for online services. The pre-departure services offered by IFNE are designed to help newcomers prepare themselves for the demands they will face in the areas of employment, health, job search and job-related training, as well as making them aware of French-speaking agencies and cultural organizations that are in place to assist them. The exchange with prospective newcomers also helps IFNE and local agencies anticipate the specific needs of immigrant families, including lodging and schooling for children.

To receive pre-arrival services, eligible prospective newcomers are referred to IFNE, which schedules interactive sessions with agency counselors. In source countries with well-developed telephone and Internet capabilities, communications are effected using Skype and other voice-over-Internet protocols. The use of new information and communication technologies is expanding rapidly throughout the world making person-to-person contact simpler and more effective. Person- to- person contacts are seen as essential for establishing a bond with newcomers and ensuring their integration in OLM communities. The IFNE staff person who was interviewed for the case study was encouraged by the uptake of pre-departure services. Though numbers are still small, over 60 families made contact with the agency in each of the past two years.

IFNE receives core funding for its settlement services through two contribution agreements, one with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the second with the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration. The federal contribution agreement is multiyear - 2013 to 2016 - and provides for two staff and the operation of a small store-front office. Technology - in the form of computers, telephones and software for the pre-departure services - is financed under the regular equipment budget of the Center and is supported by both the province and CIC. No other specialized equipment is required.

Outcomes

While IFNE asserts that pre-departure services have had positive outcomes, the services are fairly new and have not been formally evaluated. The evidence that does exist comes in the form of positive client feedback in response to outcome surveys, client service evaluations, and supportive reports from other service agencies. A summary report of these observations and survey outcomes was not available but, according to IFNE, satisfaction rates are high. Inter-agency feedback was obtained via round table discussions hosted by FANE. Additional feedback was also solicited from individuals and organizations in the course of community consultations carried out in November during "la semaine de l'immigration francophone" but results were not available at the time of writing.

IFNE's perception is that immigrants who participate in pre-departure sessions are better informed and better prepared when they arrive. This has helped other agencies because the immigrants were able to meet various documentary and evidentiary requirements that frequently cause problems post arrival. The pre-departure exchanges also provided IFNE with a more accurate and comprehensive profile of the arriving individuals and their families which, in turn, allowed IFNE to better inform other service providers regarding the timing and nature of pending requirements. The agencies concerned dealt with housing, health, education, and employment. In addition to being better informed, there is a perception that newcomers who received pre-arrival services were less intimidated by the entry process and appreciative of the fact that they were respected and welcomed in a professional manner.

Several program features were judged as critical to the success of the pre-departure service:

  • The fact that the service is personal - not a website filled with a mass of details, but a voice at the end of the line
  • Being welcomed by a person who conveys appreciation for the decision to immigrate to Nova Scotia
  • Conducting the exchange in the language in which the prospective newcomer is fluent
  • Providing an appropriately tailored outline of the services that are available to assist the newcomer and accompanying family members
  • Offering an opportunity for the prospective immigrants to pose questions and have them answered
  • Providing IFNE staff with a precise understanding of family needs, thus enabling them to initiate a settlement plan, including the areas that initial orientation should focus on

According to IFNE, the pre-departure information exchange establishes a bond and reassures immigrants that they are welcome. It is also valuable for the francophone community. During the exchange, newcomers are given information about the composition, diversity, inclusiveness, and history of the Francophone community. In Acadia, there is a strong sentiment of attachment and belonging. Considerable importance is attached to making newcomers aware of the historical challenges that the host community has faced. There is also an emphasis on creating strong intercultural bonds going forward.

Potential for transferability

The transferability of the pre-departure program to OLMCs outside Nova Scotia is premised on several key considerations. The first of these is that designated settlement service providers have the staff and technical resources to add pre-departure services to their roster of settlement assistance. This should not prove a major impediment as most provinces and territories have seen the development of dedicated settlement service capacity for French-speaking immigrants. IFNE was able to offer pre-departure services with only modest support from both levels of government. Because the incoming population is small, the agency was able to add pre-departure assistance to its service roster without having to seek additional core resources or overburdening other agency programs.

As practiced by IFNE, technical requirements are also modest. All settlement service providers have the technical capability to establish Internet and Skype (or similar) connections with clients located abroad.

Other factors identified by IFNE in connection with the transferability of the practice concern the importance of appropriately trained staff with a strong emphasis on communication, active listening skills, and patience and empathy. At an agency level, IFNE emphasized the need for flexibility and coordination with respect to workflow, as well as openness to input and working with other settlement partners. This last point is crucial as much of the value derived from the exchange of information with newcomers is obtained by facilitating downstream interactions with other settlement service organizations.

The final element affecting transferability concerns the utility of linkages with the Réseau en immigration francophone (RIF). In Nova Scotia, the two entities - the RIF and IFNE - are closely linked with the Coordinator for IFNE services also being the Coordinator of the RIF. The RIF is a network of mostly Francophone organizations that play a key role in the settlement of French-speaking immigrants. The network typically includes organizations concerned with employment and economic development, professional accreditation, health, education, and language training. These connections are valuable. In Nova Scotia's case, the relationship with l'Université St. Anne supplies expertise, promotes recruitment and helps to establish connections with other sectors. Organizations wishing to replicate Nova Scotia's pre-departure program would benefit from partnering with provincial or regional RIFs.

The benefits of being associated with RIFs extends to operational matters. The fact that the RIF and IFNE share the same Coordinator facilitates communication among agencies and allows better planning and coordination of post-arrival services. It also makes it easier for IFNE to obtain feedback on the agency's pre-arrival services. Again, transferability would benefit from similar arrangements in other locales.

Interviewee
  • Mr. Emmanuel Nahimana, Manager Immigration francophone de la Nouvelle-Écosse, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Supporting documentation
  • 2013-2014 Annual report of activities: Immigration francophone Nouvelle-Écosse
  • Fédération des Acadiens de Nouvelle-Écosse www.acadiene.ca (available in French only)
  • Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes www.fcfa.ca (available in French only)

Appendix A: Initial Questionnaire sent to Agencies

Questionnaire on Promising Practices Related to the Welcome, Integration and Inclusion of Newcomers into Francophone Minority Communities

  1. Area in which the practice is situated:
    • Practices aimed at building relations with employers to promote the hiring and retention of Francophone immigrants, international students and temporary foreign workers
    • Practices favouring the integration of newcomers into Francophone institutions (including schools), and the delivery of innovative services that support this integration
    • Delivery of settlement services in French to Francophone immigrants, international students and temporary foreign workers in isolated communities and in the North
  2. Name of the program, service or practice:
  3. Name of host organization implementing the practice:
  4. Website of the host organization and web-links to the practice (if available):
  5. Source(s) of financial support (ministry/program) for the program, service or practice:
  6. Location (where the practice is delivered):
  7. Approximate length of time that the practice has been in existence: _________ years
  8. Why do you consider this to be a promising practice?
  9. Does the practice have the following features? Yes or No
    • Considered to be especially effective (has a positive impact and delivers good results)
    • Considered to be especially efficient (i.e. uses fewer resources to achieve the same result)
    • Considered to be especially innovative and forward thinking
    • Differs in definable ways from other similar practices
    • Has unique, novel features that are thought to contribute to its success (including unique partnering agreements)
    • Strong evidence of successful outcomes
    • Clients consider the practice to be especially useful
    • Has been replicated in multiple locations
    • Practice is managed based on measures of performance
  10. Have there been any previous assessments or reviews of the practice? Yes or No
    • If yes, by third parties?
    • If yes, details as to where the assessments are available (or copies or links to the assessments)
  11. Your name:
  12. Your contact information for possible follow-up (email, phone):

Appendix B: Interview guide

Francophone innovative and promising practices

Name of Agency

Name of Program

Information about interviewee:

  • Name
  • Position within the organization
  • Length of time in this position
  • Length of time in this organization
  • Contact information

Materials we would like to obtain prior to the site visit:

  • Link to website that describes the practice
  • Pamphlets describing the practice
  • Reports (including policy, operational and activity reports that describe how the practice is structured, how it is administered and client volumes)
  • Other materials that describe the practice and its goals
  • Any evaluations or assessments that have been done of the practice
  • Any measures or data describing outputs and outcomes associated with the practice

Background and goals of the program

Topic and interview objectives

Overview: To obtain a general description of the practice, its goals, its clients, and the background (why it was introduced)

Questions and probes
  • Obtain a general description of the practice and its key features
  • Does the practice represent a new way of doing things or is it a refinement of existing methods?
  • What are the main goals of the practice? Are there secondary goals?
  • Have the goals or methods of the practice changed over time?
  • Who are the intended clients or beneficiaries of the practice?
  • Why was it put in place ... was it to respond to a particular issue or problem?
  • Have the conditions that led to the practice changed over time?
  • Are other agencies involved in delivering the practice and, if so, how?

Topic and interview objectives

Program “mechanics”: To understand how the practice functions mechanically

Questions and probes
  • Obtain a detailed description of how the practice functions
  • Are any other groups using this same practice?
  • What is the level and nature of staff involvement in the practice?
  • What other ‘resources’ does the practice require or rely on?
  • How does the practice fit in with other programs?
  • Does it have any impact on the way programs are combined to work together?

Topic and interview objectives

Outcomes: To describe the outcomes that are achieved by the practice

Questions and probes
  • What are the intended practice outcomes?
  • Are there also unintended outcomes?
  • Over what time period are outcomes achieved?
  • How do the outcomes relate to CIC’s priorities, or to provincial or other funder priorities?

Topic and interview objectives

Costs: To understand the costs associated with the practice

Questions and probes
  • What are the start-up and ongoing costs of the practice (cash and in-kind)? For what client volume?
  • Who funds the practice?
  • Is it funded by contract, grant, contribution agreement or sale of services?
  • Have costs or financing arrangements changed since the program’s inception?

How does the program differ from other similar programs

Topic and interview objectives

Inputs: To understand what makes the practice different from other similar practices

Questions and probes
  • Do similar practices exist (in other policy areas, for different clients, in other places)? Obtain examples.
  • How does the practice differ operationally from other similar practices?
    • Does the practice involve new methods or does it use existing methods in new ways? Explain.
    • Are different teaching/instructional methods used?
  • Does the program use technology differently?
    • Is the program delivered at new locations or does it support more flexible scheduling?
  • Does the practice require different numbers or types of staff?
    • Do staff require different training?
    • Are different skills required?
  • Does the practice require different types or amounts of support?
    • Does the practice require more or less management support?
    • Does it draw on other resources more intensively?
    • Does it rely more heavily on outside resources, including help from other agencies?
  • Does the practice require new arrangements with other SPOs or mainstream agencies?
  • Does the practice require more flexible financial arrangements? Different relations with funders?
  • Are different monitoring or management techniques employed?

Topic and interview objectives

Outputs

Questions and probes
  • How do the outputs of the practice differ from those of other practices?
    • How do client outputs differ?
    • Have the outputs from other practices been affected?
    • Have interactions or relations with funders changed?
    • Have partner and stakeholder relations been affected?

What features and factors contribute to the program’s success and innovation

Topic and interview objectives

Overall perceptions

Questions and probes
  • Why do people regard the practice as a ‘best practice’?
  • What are the three most important features that makes the practice so successful?

Topic and interview objectives

Internal factors: To identify endogenous that contribute to the success of the practice

Questions and probes
  • What features or assets - under agency control - account for the greater effectiveness and positive assessment of the practice? Probe for:
    • Differences in staff, management and training
    • Differences in leadership
    • Differences in amount or type of resources used
    • Differences in technology
    • Differences in structure or implementation
    • Differences in time of delivery
    • Different funding arrangements
    • Different partnering arrangements
    • Anything else

Topic and interview objectives

External factors: To identify exogenous that contribute to the success of the practice

Questions and probes
  • What features - in the external environment - contribute to the greater effectiveness and positive assessment of the practice? Probe for:
    • Particular clients targeted by the practice
    • Prevailing economic factors
    • Particular government management approach, including different funding arrangements
    • Particular partner behavior
    • Use made of social capital (networks)
    • Prevailing public attitudes
    • Anything else

Evidence pertaining to the success of the practice (results)

Topic and interview objectives

Objective evidence supporting claims of excellence and innovation

Questions and probes
  • What evidence backs up the claim that the practice is an innovative promising practice and that it meets its primary goals and objectives? (Need specificity)
  • Is there evidence that the practice achieves additional or secondary objectives?

Topic and interview objectives

Evaluation, analytic or research studies

Questions and probes
  • Have there been any evaluations or other analytic studies of the program?
    • How reliable are these studies? (obtain a copy)
    • Who conducted the studies?
    • What do the studies reveal about client outcomes (success, speed)?
    • Has the agency conducted analyses to support its funding applications? (obtain a copy)

Topic and interview objectives

Financial reports

Questions and probes
  • Has the agency or funder conducted a financial assessment or audit of the program?
    • Do the financial analyses back up claims that the practice is innovative? (obtain a copy)
    • Is there evidence that the practice costs less?

Topic and interview objectives

Client perceptions

Questions and probes
  • What types of evidence are available from clients?
    • How have client views been obtained - surveys, focus groups, anecdotally, other methods?
    • What successful features do clients cite?
    • Is there evidence of increased client uptake?
    • Has the practice expanded the range and nature of clients that are served?

Topic and interview objectives

SPO and counselor perceptions

Questions and probes
  • Is the agency (and are staff) unanimously in favour of the program?
  • What are the successful features that staff cite?

Topic and interview objectives

Funder perceptions and actions

Questions and probes
  • How do funders feel about the practice: Have they been receptive to increasing financial support?
  • Have funders sought changes in the scale or structure of the practice?

Topic and interview objectives

Partner or stakeholder actions and perceptions

Questions and probes
  • What have partners said about the practice?
  • Have other agencies or partners implemented similar practices?

Transferability

Topic and interview objectives

Geographic and scalability

Questions and probes
  • Do you think the practice could be made to work in other locations or communities of different size or different proximity to metropolitan centres?
    • How difficult would this be?
    • Could it operate in Northern, rural and remote settings?
    • Could the practice be delivered by mainstream organizations?
    • Does the practice depend on access to other organizations or institutions? What kind?
    • Is there a minimum client threshold below which the practice would not work well?
  • Could some of the features of the practice be used to improve other practices with similar objectives or structures?
    • How effective would this be? How difficult?
  • Could the practice be used for a variety of client groups?
    • Are there groups for which the practice would not work well? (e.g. language challenged)
  • How easily could staff be trained to deliver the practice?
    • Would they need specialized immigration knowledge, experience, or language skills?
  • Could the practice be delivered through distance learning or other communication and information technologies?
    • Are trainers readily available? What about training material for trainers?
    • Could the practice be delivered using itinerant services supported by communications technology?
  • Are there unique features or circumstances that would limit the transferability of the practice?
    • Does the practice depend on unique provincial or municipal programs or funding arrangements?
    • Does the practice require a unique or specialized research base or client information profiles?
    • Does the practice depend on special partnering arrangements or other institutional relationships or supports?

Appendix C: Francophone promising practices advisory committee

Francophone promising practices advisory committee

The members of the Committee are:

  • Roukya Abdi-Aden - RDÉE - Le Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité
  • Marjie Brown - FCFA - Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne
  • Meyer Burstein - P2P - Pathways to Prosperity Partnership (P2P
  • Cedric de Chardon - Citizenship and Immigration Canada (regrets)
  • Gerry Clement - P2P
  • Sheila Petty - P2P - University of Regina

Key considerations to guide the selection of promising practices

  1. Extent to which we think the practice targets important issues (within the thematic area) related to Francophone integration or receptivity in OLMC communities
  2. Extent to which we think the practice is genuinely innovative
  3. Extent to which we think the practice will be transferable (to other regions, cities of different size, organizations of different size, different policy areas)
  4. Interest that the practice is likely to evince in other organizations
  5. Whether we think there will be good evidence on which to base our assessment

Appendix D: Case study summary table

Name: La Bonne Affaire

  • Host organization: RDÉE - Toronto, Ontario
  • Thematic category: Practices to promote the hiring and retention of Francophone newcomers
  • Key Project Objective: The project informs, trains, and prepares newcomers for the realities of the Ontario labour market so they can meet employers’ expectations. La Bonne Affaire also identifies potential newcomer entrepreneurs who need support in developing a business plan in order to successfully begin and sustain their own businesses
  • Key activities: Information sessions, one-on-one mentoring, coaching, workshops
  • Years in operation: 4
  • Primary funding source: CIC, Fondation Trillium and FedNord
  • Attribution for excellence: Human resource experts who are themselves immigrants is, according to officials, the innovation that drives the program.

Name: Mentorship Program/Programme de Mentorat

  • Host organization: Accès@Emploi - Edmonton, Alberta
  • Thematic category: Practices to promote the hiring and retention of Francophone newcomers
  • Key Project Objective: Helping new Francophone professional immigrants to integrate into the regional workforce in their field of experience
  • Key activities: Offers newly-arrived French-speaking immigrant professionals in Edmonton, mentoring support to facilitate their integration into the Canadian workforce in their field of expertise
  • Years in operation: 4
  • Primary funding source: Alberta Employment and Immigration and the Government of Canada
  • Attribution for excellence: Access to staff trained in human resources management, along with staff dedication and commitment, as well as access to a receptive network of potential mentees. Physical location in “La Cite francophone” contributes to success and excellence

Name: Information Kit/ trousse d’information en langue française

  • Host organization: Élargir l’espace francophone - Le CLE – Ottawa, Ontario
  • Thematic category: Practices for integrating newcomers into Francophone institutions
  • Key Project Objective: Provide, in one comprehensive package, all the documentation that newcomers need concerning French-language education services for the region in Ontario (east, south, north) in which they live
  • Key activities: Produce the kit in both paper and online (electronic) formats with information presented in both official languages and distributed on le CLE’s website and at events
  • Years in operation: 1
  • Primary funding source: Ontario Ministry of Education
  • Attribution for excellence: The material provided in the trousse is unique in terms of its comprehensiveness and its organization into a single package. Dedicated team members, provincial ministry of education, partners and communities contribute to success and excellence.

Name: Direction des étudiantes et étudiants (DSEA) – Bureau International

  • Host organization: Université de Saint-Boniface (USB)
  • Thematic category: Practices for integrating newcomers into Francophone institutions
  • Key Project Objective: To assist international students to deal with personal, social, cultural and academic challenges associated with initial enrolment; to encourage participation in university and community-based activities and to collaborate with local OLMC organizations to encourage permanent residence opportunities for eligible graduates
  • Key activities: Provision of student support services that are focused on the special needs of international services
  • Years in operation: The USB has been recruiting and welcoming international students for over 15 years. Established the Bureau International 3 years ago.
  • Primary funding source: The USB derives revenues from admission and other fees, Manitoba Department of Education and Advanced Learning
  • Attribution for excellence: The USB partnered with the Canadian Bureau for International Education to conduct a survey of its international student body.

Name: Sensibilisation et éducation civiques des minorités raciales et ethnoculturelles francophones (MREF)

  • Host organization: Regroupement ethnoculturel des parents francophones de l’Ontario (REPFO) et Association française des municipalités de l’Ontario (AFMO)
  • Thematic category: Practices for integrating newcomers into Francophone institutions.
  • Key Project Objective: The project was inspired by the belief that the democratic process requires all citizens to exercise their fundamental rights in relation to electoral processes at the school board, municipal, provincial and federal levels. Understanding and acting on those rights – as voters or as candidates – was seen as vital to newcomers’ civic and political integration. The project developed in two phases: Phase 1 2003- 2008; Phase 2 2009-2010
  • Key activities: REPFO and the AFMO developed a series of information and educational sessions targeting MREF communities. The sessions also helped to identify participants interested in becoming candidates in the 2006 and 2010 municipal elections in Ottawa.
  • Years in operation: From 2003 to the present.
  • Primary funding source: Phase 1 was funded internally. The expansion to four cities in 2009 and 2010 was funded by the Trillium Foundation.
  • Attribution for excellence: The expansion phase of the project was evaluated in 2011 by the Centre Canadien de Leadership en évaluation (CLÉ), which surveyed project partners, elected officials and participants in the project’s education and training sessions. The evaluation reported positive outcomes.

Name: Services pré-départ – Immigration francophone Nouvelle-Écosse

  • Host organization: Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse (FANE) et Immigration francophone (IFNE)
  • Thematic category: Delivery of francophone services in French to francophone newcomers
  • Key Project Objective: Pre-departure services are of growing interest to governments and NGOs in the settlement sector. Analysis suggests that early intervention leads to significant improvements in newcomers’ early settlement and integration prospects.
  • Key activities: The pre-departure services offered by IFNE are designed to help newcomers prepare themselves for the demands they will face in the areas of employment, health, job search and job-related training, as well as informing them of French-speaking agencies and cultural organizations.
  • Years in operation: Since 2012
  • Primary funding source: CIC and Nova Scotia Office of Immigration
  • Attribution for excellence: While IFNE asserts that pre-departure services have had positive outcomes, the services are fairly new and have not been formally evaluated.
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