Non-for-Profit Announcement

Today is a very special day as it marks an important milestone in our organization’s history. As  a grassroots community-based initiative, today, I am delighted to announce that we are officially an incorporated non-for-profit organization. While our status has changed, our work continues to be led by our community-centred vision, and driven by the needs of our community. We will continue to rely on our community members to shape and co-design the next exciting chapter of our work. 

Since 2016 we have collaborated with a range of partners to deliver diverse programming. We will continue to collaborate with other like-minded agencies, to deliver impactful programs to our members. A brief note recounting our journey so far: We have organized and hosted conferences, workshops, and public forums that focused on engaging our community members on current critical issues, building their leadership capacity, and enhancing their civic participation. 

We have so far successfully engaged more than 3000 immigrant and refugee students as well as other community members in our programs and activities. In 2020, our team led a transformational expansion of the organization,  and moved us from being a campus-based student group initiative into being a national grassroots organization that supports immigrant and refugee students in postsecondary institutions across Canada. We launcheded the Immigrant Women National Network that aims to amplify the voices of black and racialized immigrant and refugee women, and advances their leadership capacity. Most recently, we launched the Centre for Immigrants’ Civic Engagement with the objective of mobilizing and activating the participation of  newcomer and immigrant communities in civic and democratic life. We have a bold vision to educate, inspire and galvanize immigrant communities to take action for social change and impact, as well as to support them in building their capacity for self-advocacy. The centre will foster connections and promote safe spaces  for inclusive dialogue, and will prioritize immigrants’ inclusion and advancement in the Canadian civic and political landscape. 

In line with our vision, and our values, we will continue to tirelessly work at the intersection of migration, education, and social justice; we are committed to  function as a platform to promote inclusion, equity, and racial justice for post-secondary newcomer, immigrant, and refugee students. We are dedicated to supporting and empowering this segment in their cultural transitioning, and in their social and economic integration, and civic engagement in Canadian post-secondary institutions as well as in the broader society. Our mandate continues to be the same, to provide a safe space to empower newcomer, immigrant, and refugee students to build fellowship, capacity and community through their shared lived experiences.

Sara Asalya

Founder & Executive Director

Newcomer Students’ Association

NSA Statement on Hate-Motivated Car Attack on Muslim Family in London, Ontario

It is important to acknowledge and name violent acts, call them out, and denounce them. Because our words matter. There are times though when words also seem grossly inadequate, such as this most recent act of hate and Islamophobia targetting an innocent Muslim family, in London, Ontario, on the evening of Sunday June 6. 

Four members of a Muslim family were unfortunate victims of this horrific truck-attack as they waited at an intersection to cross the street. The members of the family who lost their lives are: the father, 46 years-old; the mother, 44 years-old; their daughter, 15 years-old; and the grandmother, 74 years old. The youngest in the family, their son, nine years-old, sustained serious injuries and is in hospital  fighting for his life.

If a family of five, enjoying a simple walk in their own neighbourhood on a Sunday evening, can be deliberately attacked in this senseless manner, how are other members of that community supposed to make sense of such extreme hate and bigotry, the feelings left-behind, that an enemy lurks about? How can grieving individuals, families, and communities find the tools to deal with emotions that can leave behind a trail of nervousness and anxiety when stepping out of their homes? Where can they (we/everyone) find safety, belonging, and stability, those basic components of feeling ‘at`at home’ in one’s own home, in Canada?  

“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith,” said Paul Waight, Detective Superintendent of the London Police, at a news conference on Monday afternoon. London Mayor Ed Holder communicated a similar message when he said, “Let me be clear: This was an act of mass murder, perpetrated against Muslims — against Londoners — and rooted in unspeakable hatred.” 

Real action, justice, and good policy frameworks are needed in addition to words condemning such hateful massacres. Canada is at a critical time of reckoning; and we must be sensitive to understanding small stories of hate and bullying, and big events like terrorist acts, on a continuum of racism and colonialism. We, as individuals and communities, must all stand together, in solidarity and ally-ship. We must be united not only by our differences but also through our compassion, empathy and collective impact.  

We express our utmost horror, grief and anger against this hate-targeted terrorist attack.  The Newcomer Students Association (NSA) is a national nonprofit organization whose mandate is to promote and advocate for inclusion, equity, and racial justice for post-secondary newcomer, immigrant, and refugee students. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and Muslim students in all post-secondary institutions in Canada. We continue to be committed to addressing and fighting hate, Islamophobia and racism in all its forms in Canadian campuses and the broader community.  

In solidarity,

The Newcomer Students’ Association 

Donate

LaunchGood Fundraiser – London Community United Against Hate, donate to help support the family

Community and Mental Health support

Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration, London, Ontario: 519-672-6000 ext. 309

Community Mental Health Association (Middlesex) – Mental Health Support or Crisis Services: 519-433-2023 or 1-866-933-2023

London Cross Cultural Learner Centre – Support for newcomers: 519-432-1133 or email cclc@lcclc.org. For urgent issues: 519-808-6725

Additional Mental Health Support resources available in Ontario can be found here.

More than 80 Nonprofits urge Premier to Legislate Adequate, Permanent Paid Sick Days

NSA  joined 80+ organizations across Ontario to urge Premier Ford to legislate 10 paid sick days. Too many lives have been lost to inadequate labour standards – we need action now. Learn more on YWCA’s website.

A copy of the letter signed can be found below:

Dear Premier Ford,

We are writing to you as a concerned collective of not-for-profits across Ontario regarding your government’s response in this third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As organizations that serve hundreds of thousands of Ontarians, many of whom face systemic oppressions such as poverty and racism, we feel it is a critical moment to sound the alarm.

We acknowledge that working to end and mitigate the effects of a viral, airborne threat is no small feat for any government. We welcome interventions such as the rollout of vaccines in communities across Ontario, and recent efforts to target hotspots. The latest modeling from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory table calls for targeted interventions among essential workers. While limited interventions have been offered to these workers in recent weeks, the responses fall well short of adequate.

Protections such as uninterrupted access to vaccines and paid sick days to ensure workers who are sick are not forced to go to work have not been made available. The failure to provide the most vulnerable workers with the support they need harms communities that already face structural inequities and systemic violence.

The recently announced paid sick days stopgap for the federal program – giving employers up to $200 per day to cover off three paid sick days for individuals who need to isolate following a COVID test or to get vaccinated – will not go far enough to support essential workers. Workers need at least 10 paid sick days so that if they are ill, they can safely isolate and prevent the spread of infection.

Long wait times and complicated online booking for hotspot areas are also problematic: Essential workers need flexibility and easy access to booking appointments because they are not in front of a computer all day. These workers are at assembly lines or in child care settings, busy risking their lives in order to keep the economy moving. For many essential workers, the opportunity to get a vaccine at a pop-up site requires standing in line for hours in inclement weather. This is not equitable access.

The lives of essential workers must be valued as much as our society values their labour.

We are also concerned that the advice delivered by the experts at the provincial Science Table is not being acted upon with enough anticipation of the threats ahead. Sweeping late afternoon announcements and knee-jerk decisions erode public trust. One such example is the decree granting additional police powers on April 16 leading to more stop and frisk and predictable racial profiling, regardless of many local forces’ official refusal to enforce. Your apology and retraction of the order days later was the right move, but the damage was already done.

Local municipalities should not have to enact public health orders to halt the operations of unsafe workplaces – that order should come from provincial leadership.

Ontarians were heartbroken to hear of the death of 13-year-old Emily Victoria Viega, the daughter of a warehouse worker who succumbed to COVID in her bed at home in Brampton. This death was preventable. Many of the community members we work with and serve face heightened challenges – pandemics upon pandemics – and the failure of policy makers to support them is resulting in much harm and long-term suffering.

We recognize that governing during a pandemic is arduous, never-ending and difficult on many levels. But if we do not keep the lives and contributions of essential workers as the core focus of this crisis response, it will only lead to greater devastation. Black, racialized, newcomer, and migrant workers – many of whom are women – deserve good labour market conditions and protection from COVID-19. We need safer workplaces, a stronger social safety net and equity-responsive policies that work.

In short, we urge the provincial government to take immediate action to:

1. Implement the recommendations of the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table;

2. Institute 10 permanent, employer paid sick days for all workers in Ontario; and,

3. Establish an Equity Advisory Table and take concrete steps to apply an equity lens to all pandemic-related policy decisions.

Thank you for considering our concerns. We welcome the opportunity to provide ongoing input and our assistance to ensure pandemic responses support those who have been most impacted. We would be happy to discuss our sectors’ perspectives with you further.

Signed,

519
Abrigo Centre
Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
3/4
Agincourt Community Services Association
Aids Committee of Toronto (ACT)
Applegrove Community Complex
Armagh
Aura Freedom
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre
Black Legal Action Centre
caterToronto
CAYR Community Connections (York Region)
Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Community Legal Clinic – Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk
Daily Bread Food Bank
Davenport Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre
Downsview CLS
Durham Community Legal Clinic & Access to Justice Hub
Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre
Elizabeth Fry Toronto
Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter
Family Service Toronto
Focus for Ethnic Women, Waterloo region inc.
FoodShare Toronto
Haldimand & Norfolk Women’s Services
Humaniti
Immigrant Women’s National Network
Income Security Advocacy Centre
Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic
Interval House
Interval House of Ottawa Maison Interval d’Ottawa
Jane/Finch Centre
KCWA Family and Social Services
Kingston Interval House
Kinna-aweya Legal Clinic
Lake Country Community Legal Clinic
Lennox and Addington Interval House
Mississauga Community Legal Services
Neighbourhood Legal Services
Newcomer Students’ Association
Niagara Community Legal Clinic
North York Community House
ODSP Action Coalition
Ontario ACORN
Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses (OAITH)
Ontario Campaign 2000
4/4
Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC)
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN)
Platform
Positive Living Niagara
Preevanda K. Sapru, Barrister and Solicitor
Progress Toronto
Ralph Thornton Community Centre
Renfrew County Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN)
Scadding Court Community Centre
Sistering
Social Planning Network of Ontario
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)
South Asian Women Centre
Sudbury Community Legal Clinic/Clinique juridique communautaire de Sudbury
The Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County
The Neighbourhood Group
The Parkdale Activity – Recreation Centre
The People’s Pantry
Toronto Neighborhood Centres
Victim Services of Durham Region
Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre
West Scarborough Community Legal Services
Willowdale Community Legal Services
Woman Abuse Council of Toronto (WomanACT)
Women and HIV / AIDS Initiative (Ontario)
Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke
Workers’ Action Centre
Working Women Community Centre
YW Kitchener-Waterloo
YWCA Cambridge
YWCA Durham
YWCA Sudbury
YWCA Toronto

CC:
Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health
Hon. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Hon. Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues

NSA statement in response to anti-Asian, white supremacist, and misogynistic murder spree of Asian Women in Atlanta

The Newcomer Students’ Association – a national grassroots organization working at the intersection of migration, education and social justice, and a platform committed to promoting equity and inclusion for Canadian post-secondary students – we express our solidarity with members of the Asian community who have experienced incidents of hate, discrimination and racism. Our hearts are angered and grieved by the recent  tragic killings  in Atlanta; and we send a message of support and love to bereaved families of the victims, and to all members of the Asian community. 

With heavy hearts, and with determination to continuously fight racism, xenophobia, white supremacy, and misogyny, and to advocate for systemic change, we strongly condemn the Atlanta spa shootings that killed eight individuals, six of them were women of Asian descent. This heinous and brutal act of violence has once again demonstrated the pervasive prevalence of hate and xenophobia, as well as racism and sexism, in our society. These fatal shootings also reiterate the continuation of anti-Asian racism that was highlighted at the start of the pandemic, and that has persisted throughout this difficult year.

We are here to support all students as they navigate a year like no other. We continue to support racialized students and to fight all forms of hate and racism on our campuses.  We are saddened by the stories shared by many Asian students, of their experiences with racism, xenophobia, and not feeling safe on our campuses. We pledge to continue addressing racism in our educational institutions while also doing what we can to support Asian and other racialized and vulnerable student groups.  

In solidarity,

The Newcomer Students’ Association

Introducing… Immigrant Women’s National Network!

The Newcomer Students’ Association is thrilled to announce the Immigrant Women National Network (IWNN). We recognize the need to create a virtual community to support black and racialized immigrant and refugee women, as they are one of the hardest hit groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these women have experienced mental health issues, social isolation, lack of social capital, gender-based violence, and unemployment. In fact, they are a group with one of the highest unemployment rates from May 2019 to May 2020, and one whose university education could not protect them from losing their jobs. They also face downward mobility and barriers to access resources and support systems. IWNN is a national network addressing issues and policies impacting the economic, social, and civic integration and engagement of immigrant and refugee women. Looking through an intersectional lens, the aim of this network is two-fold. First, It aims to create a platform and safe space for immigrant and refugee women to connect with one another,  share their stories, and offer peer support and mentorship. Furthermore, the network  was established with a mandate to provide and equip immigrant and refugee women with the tools, knowledge, resources and skills they need to reach their full potential and be contributing and active members of the society.

Second, the national network will act as a community of practice, bringing together experts, knowledge holders, and those with lived experience in immigration, displacement, resettlement and integration, to address issues, barriers, and challenges facing this community, as well as solutions to advance the inclusion of immigrant and refugee women in all aspects of the Canadian society. 

We understand that these women face multiple intersecting barriers to settlement, integration, civic participation and career advancement. Through this network, we address and tackle issues related to social isolation, gender-based violence, mental health and wellbeing, civic engagement and leadership, as well as downward mobility for this segment. The objective of IWNN is not to provide  short-term settlement solutions, but rather build strategies for long-term integration and advancement. The broader goal is to work towards  sustainable inclusion  and empowerment for immigrant, and refugee women in all aspects of Canadian society.  The network aims  to amplify the voices of immigrant and refugee women while  transforming  and empowering their experiences. IWNN hopes to do this through documenting the stories and lived experiences of immigrant and refugee women, as well as using storytelling as a tool of empowerment to challenge and disrupt the status quo. We envision the network conducting national advocacy campaigns and efforts to address the challenges facing this segment. We will advocate for fair representation of immigrant women in public office, in non-profit and corporations boards, and in the media.

Join our mailing list to find out more about the launch!

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NSA statement in response to OHRC letter to universities and colleges on racism and other human rights concerns

The Newcomer Students Association (NSA)— a national grassroots organization working at the intersection of migration, education, and social justice, and a platform committed to promoting inclusion and equity for post-secondary newcomer, immigrant, and refugee students—we support and endorse the open letter issued by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Dec 18, 2020. We endorse the criticism levelled in the OHRC statement and welcome the specific measures they recommend to protect the human rights of Black, Indigenous, and racialized students. 

In this open letter that goes out to all Presidents and Principals of post-secondary educational institutions in Ontario, OHRC brings attention to media stories, social media posts, and communications received by them directly from students and student groups who have reported experiences of racism and fear, with an increase in acts that violate students’ human rights to access a safe educational environment. We at NSA, based on our relationships with the student community, have heard multiple accounts of students experiencing racism, discrimination, and xenophobia within Ontario post-secondary institutions. We have also learned about our student community’s frustration at the lack of institutional responses to these issues. These experiences are not new, but racism is ingrained in our society and institutions. It has surfaced more starkly during, and was exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the last few months of living with COVID-19, with reliance primarily on virtual platforms for learning and socializing, has led to racialized students feeling doubly isolated, marginalised and discriminated against. We acknowledge that sadly, there has been little recourse to much-needed institutional support to help students deal with the unique situations they are currently experiencing. 

Notably, the OHRC letter highlights the serious nature  of these concerns, pointing to the challenges experienced by racialized students as a sign of institutional failure. Such institutional failures have led to a lack of redressal of complaints in the absence of policy mechanisms to evaluate and prevent perpetration of future discriminatory acts. OHRC urges “directing minds” of universities to take positive action by instituting “transparent, accessible and formal structures to promote compliance with human rights law and principles, including comprehensive complaint mechanisms to foster a culture of human rights accountability.” While NSA is saddened by the racism and pervasive systemic challenges our racialized learning community is currently facing, we feel supported by the OHRC acknowledgement. We urge the academic community, all educational institutions, and other stakeholders to come together and take action to ensure that all learning and societal spaces are respectful, equitable, and free of any discrimination.  

In solidarity,

The Newcomer Students’ Association

Newcomer Students’ Association’s Statement on Racial Justice

Like all of you, we are pained and deeply saddened by these recent tragedies. We stand firmly with the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement. We are mourning the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all of the Black lives that have been lost due to senseless police brutality and white supremacy. 

At its core, the Newcomer Students’ Association of Ryerson is about inclusivity and community. We stand in complete solidarity with the Black community, who has long faced racial injustice and unrest. We also stand in solidarity with #NotAnotherBlackLife, who organized a powerful and peaceful protest in Toronto this past weekend. 

Our organization is built on the foundations of equality, diversity and the importance of communities coming together to support one another. Black people have suffered under the oppressive weight of systemic racism in North America for too long and it must end. 

We are committed to taking the necessary steps to further our learning and confronting anti-Black racism within our own communities, neighbourhoods and institutions. We will hold ourselves accountable and pledge to never stop having uncomfortable and necessary conversations, calling out racism, and engaging the NSAR community in ongoing dialogue around this absolutely crucial and essential movement. 

NSAR demands justice in the cases of George Floyd, Regis Korchiniski-Paquet, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all cases of anti-Black racism and police brutality. We stand with protestors and their right to remain safe, respected and heard. We demand that substantial funding be allocated to fighting racism in Canada and provoking real, long-lasting change in ending anti-Black racism and providing equal opportunities to marginalized groups. 

We encourage you to support the following Toronto-based organizations that are working tirelessly to end racial injustice in Canada: 

Black Legal Action Centre
Black Women in Motion 
Black Lives Matter Toronto

In solidarity,
Newcomer Students’ Association

A Note From Our Founder…

Since launching in 2016 as the Newcomer Students’ Association of Ryerson (NSAR), we have been on a mission to support and empower newcomer students at Toronto’s Ryerson University. Since then, we have expanded our operations and services to respond to the needs and support hundreds of newcomer students from different higher education institutions in Canada. We’ve built partnerships with more than 50 organizations, academic departments, student societies and groups. We have organized a variety of events and public forums to raise awareness about newcomer students’ challenges and issues, built solidarity with various communities, and delivered many workshops and training sessions to support the integration and transition process of immigrant women. Our programs focus on building civic engagement and leadership for immigrant women as well as building solidarity and allyship between newcomers and indigenous communities and bridging the dialogue between Indigeneity and immigration. Hundreds of newcomer students have attended our events and programs, and we look forward to continuing to grow and reaching out to more students.

I am thrilled to announce that going forward, we will be operating under the name Newcomer Students’ Association. Our story started at Ryerson University and for the past four years, our name has been The Newcomer Students’ Association of Ryerson. However, we recognize that name has prevented many newcomer students from reaching out to us and seeking support as the name implies that we only service newcomer students at Ryerson University. This is no longer the case. Our name has changed to encourage more students to get involved with our work and to allow us to better understand their needs and serve them.

That being said, newcomers, immigrants, and refugees who are not enrolled in a post-secondary institution are also welcome to join this community by filling out a membership form, found on our website. Our services and programs are accessible to all and are offered at no cost. 

Our new logo represents the work we do in creating pathways and space for newcomers, immigrants and refugees who are starting a new chapter of life. We want our members to continue sharing their lived experiences through storytelling, genuine and authentic connection, and community building. The colours represent the diversity and multiculturalism of those who come to the Newcomer Students’ Association, from different walks of life. The newcomer, immigrant and refugee community has always been at the heart of what we do, and we wanted our logo to be a reflection of our commitment to them.

Our mission remains the same: “to provide a safe space to empower newcomers and their allies to build fellowship, capacity, and community.” Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter below and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

—Sara Asalya