Institutional Change: Building an Inclusive OCASI Network and Enhancing the Participation of Racialized Francophone Community

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Org: Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
Date: 2004

This report seeks to examine the problems and challenges that Francophone newcomers from black French speaking African and Haitian communities face in their integration process in Ontario.

The project had the following objectives:

  • To provide black French-speaking African and Haitian immigrants, as well as mainstream Francophone organizations that serve those communities, an opportunity to define their needs, and to develop strategies for addressing those needs within the OCASI network and within the broader settlement, integration and community development sector.
  • OCASI to have a clearer picture of the challenges faced by black French-speaking African and Haitian immigrants and organizations that serve these emerging communities, and of their expectation of the role that OCASI should play in building inclusive practices in Franco-Ontario organizations.


It identifies challenges faced by black African and Haitian Francophone newcomers to Ontario, including:

  • Access to employment; accreditation and training
  • Access to information in French
  • Access to immigrant settlement services in French language
  • Access to English language instruction
  • Access to funding for ethno specific Francophone organizations
  • Organizational development of ethno specific Francophone organizations
  • Institutional change: all levels
  • Institutional change: Government level
  • Need for Institutional change, particularly with respect to the relationship with Francophone mainstream organizations

The report summarizes findings of the research and consultations with black African and Haitian communities, with staff from ethno cultural and other organizations that provide settlement services to these communities, and with Third Parties that know these communities well. Focus group discussions, involving approximately 100 participants from five cities, provided considerable amount of data, with more than 50 recommendations formulated from participants?observations. Key highlighted areas included:

  • Serious issues related to access to employment and socio-economic integration. It seems that a disproportionate numbers of immigrants from the target communities are unemployed.
  • Grave problems arising from flaws in the Official Languages Act and English as a Second Language learning policy and process.
  • Flawed Funders? policies and practices, whereby grassroots agencies that know better the issues of small emerging communities are not funded by key funders.
  • Lack of settlement information and insufficient knowledge of existing services, including knowledge of services offered by immigrant serving agencies. This is due to inadequate outreach by the government and by immigrant serving organizations.
  • Lack of services to refugee claimants.
  • The feeling of isolation experienced by the communities and by the few grassroots organizations that represent them.
  • Physical and mental health-related problems, due to stress associated with, among others, long periods of unemployment, difficulties arising out of the family reunification process and, in some cases, lack of status.
  • Critical shortage of affordable housing, particularly in the face of high unemployment or underemployment among the Francophone racialized minorities, and in light of discriminatory practices experienced by these racialized communities.
  • Need to address the regularization of status for persons without status.
  • Uneasy relationship with the mainstream Francophone communities and organizations, and with the English-speaking communities. In this respect there is need for antiracism work and systemic change.
  • Dysfunctional relationships among emerging racialized Francophone communities themselves, reflected in the current lack of a united vision and absence of a united strategy to overcome the challenges faced by their communities. This is a reflection of lack of resources.
  • Under funding and lack of resources does not allow for financial planning and managementdevelopment of ethno-specific organizations representing the target group.
  • A feeling of hopelessness among members of the black French-speaking African and Haitian Francophone communities. This is due to the predominant perception that there is lack of serious commitment on the part of the government(s) to enhance the settlement and integration of emerging racialized communities. There is a need to provide relevant/effective solutions to the lack of appropriate employment, and a need to address discriminatory employment practices.
English (455 KB, 53 pages), French (500 KB, 55 pages)
These documents are available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.