Keynote speech from John Tory

John Tory, Chair of the Civic Action Alliance and former MPP, opened the conference with a compelling speech outlining the practical and moral benefits of having immigrants meaningfully participate in Canada’s labour market. His keynote speech outlined a framework from which advocacy in support of diversity in the workplace can be argued. Tory’s approach is divided into three parts: 1) the moral case; 2) the business case, and 3) the presentation of role models in the corporate community. See more

Promising Practices in Diverse Hiring
Presentation from: Matt Peterson, Director of Diverse Strategies, CIBC

Matt Peterson, Director of Diverse Strategies at CIBC, provided participants with a detailed look into CIBC’s model for hiring and retaining internationally trained professionals. After restating the business case for hiring, retaining and promoting immigrants, Peterson suggested a number of helpful and innovative strategies and tools. The hiring and retention practices highlighted in Peterson’s presentation are those that have brought much needed talent from immigrant communities to CIBC and have contributed to corporate success. See more

Immigrant internships as promising practice
Anne Lamont, President & CEO, Career Edge Organization

Anne Lamont, President and CEO of Career Edge, talked about paid internships as a positive and practical solution to the challenge of “Canadian experience”. Her presentation defined “Canadian experience” as an expectation from employers that is less about hard skills or one’s qualifications and more about “concerns related to the cultural, linguistic differences and the lack of soft skills that are often associated with internationally qualified professionals”. Lamont’s presentation highlights three important issues that need to be addressed before the practice of paid internships is offered as a solution. See more

Newcomer Voices and Employment Challenges
Video Presentation by Mennonite New Life Centre

In their own voices, the members of the Newcomer Speakers’ Bureau offered insights into their struggles, and invited viewers to engage with their stories of migration, the search for meaningful employment and their refusal to settle for less. In the context of this conference, this video served to position the concept of ‘Canadian Experience’ within the many barriers newcomers encounter in their struggle to make Canada their home, reminding participants of the broader implications of the day’s discussions. See more

Newcomer Employment Experiences and Human Resource Professionals
A Research-based Theatre presentation by the Canadian Experience Project Team

How does one get these soft skills? What is the unspoken knowledge or tacit knowledge that makes up “Canadian experience”? That constitutes Canadian workplace culture? The Canadian Experience project team (led by Professor Izumi Sakamoto) presented findings from their research in the form of theatre. The script remained as true as possible to the words of the immigrants, employers and human resources professionals they interviewed in the study, and remained true to the theatrics of what they have experienced. See more

Recommendations for Action
Summary of roundtable discussions

The interactive nature of the conference allowed participants to share their experiences, successes and challenges related to the expectation of “Canadian experience”. Based on summaries submitted by notetakers at the conference and post conference interviews with participants, we collected several recommendations on how to move forward and create change. See more