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Munk Centre
 

Wsevolod Isajiv
(Department of Sociology, University of Toronto)

"Adaptation and Integration of New Immigrants: The Fourth Wave of Immigration from Ukraine in Canada, 1991-2001"

In Toronto, multicultural milieu par excellence, studies on multiculturalism and ethnicity have a particular resonance. On January 28, Wsevolod Isajiw (Department of Sociology, U of T), very familiar with these issues, presented the preliminary results of his study on Adaptation and Integration of New Immigrants: The Fourth Wave of Immigration from Ukraine in Canada, 1991-2001. The event started off the new year for the seminar series sponsored by the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine and was held in conjunction with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Toronto Office.

In his introductory remarks, Prof. Isajiw made note of the fact that each successive wave of immigrants from Ukraine has brought with it a specific set of political and social values. His research aims to assess how well Ukrainian immigrants of the most recent wave are adapting to the Canadian economic system and to determine whether and to what extent they become integrated into Toronto's Ukrainian community.

A series of statistical tables displayed the results of some 300 interviews done among new Ukrainian immigrants between November 2000 and January 2001. Among other things, the study shows that more than 90% of those interviewed fall into the independent immigrant category. This situation mirrors Canadian immigration policy--Ukrainians in this category have high qualifications and significant disposable incomes. Young and dynamic (39.2 years old on average), close to a quarter of these immigrants have Canadian citizenship and own their home. According to Prof. Isajiw, this data represents very rapid progress.

Assessing the question of immigrant adaptation to the economic system, Prof. Isajiw looked at the types of employment held by immigrants before and after they arrived. While 15.2% of the immigrants had a job related to computing in the Ukraine, this rate fell to 13.4% for their first job in Canada and rose to 20.1% for their current working status. For jobs related to business and entrepreneurship the rates were: 3.9%, 3.0%, and 6.4% respectively. In sectors such as engineering, humanities, art, and management, the employment figures are not as positive and downward social mobility predominates.

In order to find a job, Ukrainian immigrants faced three major problems: lack of Canadian experience, lack of Canadian contacts, and inadequate knowledge of English. They found employment mainly in newspapers, by approaching employers directly, and through Ukrainian Canadian friends or private employment centres. While the majority of the candidates have a fairly good education (15 years or more), the study reveals that a degree was not a necessary asset for a career in Canada. Nonetheless, Prof. Isajiw concluded that Ukrainian immigrants are economically well integrated.

Regarding the integration of immigrants into the Ukrainian community, the most striking information is the fact that less than 10% of new arrivals are involved in the community, whereas, as Prof. Isajiw indicated, the opposite was the case for the previous waves of Ukrainian immigration. Having a pronounced sense of Ukrainian culture, more than 90% of the interviewees feel that is important to pass it on to their cchildren. To do so, half of immigrant parents send their children to Ukrainian schools, but many other means such as dance lessons and summer camps are also used. Overall, these newly arrived Ukrainians desire to stay in Canada and observe that Canadians treat immigrants positively even though settling in Canada has been difficult for the majority of them. Prof. Isajiw considers that mother tongue is not an indicator of national identity whereas the language used at home is an identity indicator. Regardless of whether their mother tongue is Russian or Ukrainian, the immigrants can send their children to Ukrainian schools.

The audience, mainly composed of members of the Toronto Ukrainian community, welcomed his talk with great interest, and we at CREES are waiting for concluding analysis of the fourth wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada.

Igor Tchoukarine, CREES

   
Content: © 2002 Petro Jacyk • Design: © 2002 dragandesign.