Canada is unique among industrial countries, in that immigration is actually popular.
Internationally, people look to Canada and its welcoming, multicultural approach to immigration as a success story.
Immigration sociologist Jeffrey Reitz, professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, wants to understand whether this perception of success is based on material benefits for immigrants and their communities. If so, he also wants to decode the secret behind this success.
“Canada has made a huge investment in immigration. Immigration has had a huge impact in Toronto, right here in the university, but all across the city,” says Reitz. “The success of our immigration experiment, if you like, is really going to be the story of the future of the country.”
In this research, Reitz pays attention to differences between public opinion and social reality. Public opinion polls show that Canadians are concerned that Muslim immigrants do not want to integrate, but in reality this is not the case, says Reitz.
Far from becoming isolated, Muslim immigrants are integrating into the mainstream just as well as other groups have in the past. Given this open willingness to integrate, Reitz believes that programs specifically directed at assimilation may backfire.
Reitz credits Canadian support services available to immigrants for this successful integration. It helps that the majority of Canadians don’t view immigration as a burden; for humanitarian and economic reasons, immigrants are welcomed into their new communities.
Hopefully these insights will help more immigrants come to think of Canada as home.