Engaging Vancouver’s New Canadians

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Engaging New Canadians is a policy brief that explores why New Canadians experience barriers when it comes to political literacy and voting. By hosting workshops with established community and ethnocultural organizations, as well as collecting data, the City of Vancouver can work towards increasing democratic engagement among new Canadians.

Course:

Diversity and Equity in Cities (URB 663)

Instructors:

  • Aude-Claire Fourot

City of Vancouver:

  • Danielle Johnston

Student Team:

  • Sonia Moody,
  • Ralph Guillermo,
  • Bram Hoogkamp,
  • Elizabeth Armitage,
  • Kaung Kyaw San

Term:

Fall 2022

Summary

Vancouver is home to a large population of naturalized citizens. These Canadians can enact meaningful change by voting, yet they generally display low voter turnout compared to Canadian-born citizens. Statistics further show that those who gained citizenship within the last 10 years since immigration tend to vote even less than other naturalized citizens. Thus, electoral participation barriers faced by ‘new citizens’, who were naturalized within the last 10 years, are significant issues that need to be addressed. Though not all immigrants are naturalized citizens, all naturalized citizens are legally considered immigrants. Accordingly, this proposal stresses that reducing immigrant-related barriers to voting will positively impact newly naturalized Canadians, too.

The proposal provides two recommendations. First, educational workshops focusing on municipal functions and electoral processes should be created in public-use sites, such as community and cultural centres, and coordinated with community-level ethnocultural associations. City-led education workshops build informational and social networks that can be utilized by new citizens. They address newcomers’ knowledge gaps and familiarize new Canadians with municipal-level political contexts. Second, the City should develop data publications that include population makeup and fluctuations of naturalized individuals should be explored to inform future engagement strategies. Accumulating and analyzing data variables salient to immigrant participation levels is essential to create initiatives aimed at increasing voter turnout. Together, these recommendations suggest a holistic strategy to apprehend and address the lack of attention given to the awareness or knowledge disparities between new Canadians and other voting groups.

 

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