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Kids in a park

The P2P National Conference

Mar 1, 2024, 10:06 AM

In 2023, the Pathways 2 Prosperity (P2P) National Conference was held at Le Centre Sheraton Hotel in Montreal, Quebec. A delegation of staff of the Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence (CWICE) attended for two days of learning, on November 20 and 21, 2023.


CWICE team at P2P Conference

There were common themes highlighted throughout the keynote speeches, plenaries, and workshops. For example, housing issues related to population growth and rental price increases, and their negative impact on individuals and families, specifically refugees and immigrants. The issue of lack of housing and affordability can influence new immigrants and refugees, causing them to move out of urban areas which are typically preferred as points of settlement.  Rural and smaller communities were discussing ways to attract and retain individuals.


Communities must find ways to diversify to meet needs of their growing populations.  Related topics included accessibility of a diverse range of services and ensuring work related opportunities are available. It was noted that individuals’ cultural identity can be influential motivators in determining where they choose to settle and raise their families. 


Furthermore, we heard key messages that services and policy need to align to prevent silos. Both Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller and Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Christine Fox said there are changes and progress from a review provided earlier this year.  As well, Minister Miller shared he would be taking a new plan to cabinet in the Spring of 2024.


In some of the workshops and roundtables, we heard themes on digitization. This included tools that can assist newcomers assess their mental distress upon arrival in Canada and obtain community resources. This centres and allows the client tell their story and voice their needs, recognizing needs are not uniform and are unique to each individual.  Additionally, we heard about platforms and applications such as Refugees 613 in Ottawa, which offers settlement and integration support via a person’s phone. These kinds of innovative platforms can help refugees build connections wherever they reside, bringing people together to discuss ways of obtaining employment for example or how to navigate school systems and healthcare. These progressive settlement services help to empower individuals, address potential needs, and allow for greater accessibility to relevant information and resources.


Overall, the learning experience was positive and the knowledge informs CWICE's services to children, youth and families. The conference did enhance our learning, and encouraged us to imagine how a sector can grow, informed by professionals across Canada. We thank the Peel Children’s Aid Foundation for the opportunity to attend. Remaining up-to-date with current research and information is an important aspect of our role in the Centre of Excellence. We aim to provide the most accurate content to our clients and colleagues when they consult our international consultation centre. Reflecting on our time in Montreal, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to attend such a powerful event which helps us expand our knowledge and build new connections. 


About the authors:

Mandisa Sifelani is a Social Worker, working within CWICE as an Immigration Specialist. Her passion is working with newcomer families and unaccompanied and separated children, to regularize their immigration status and ensure their safety while transitioning into life in Canada. She has a keen attentiveness to the importance on the Best Interests of the Child, and their voice within child welfare.


Alicja Grabarczyk is a Child Protection Worker and Immigration Specialist at Peel CAS’ Child Welfare Immigration Centre of Excellence. Alicja joined Peel CAS in 2011, as an assessment worker and with CWICE.  Alicja transitioned into the Immigration Specialist role with CWICE over three years ago. Alicja has always pursued immigration-related courses as part of her post-secondary studies and on-going professional development. This includes obtaining a certificate in Customs and Immigration and working in the settlement service sector.