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1 Apr 2013

Symposium on the integration of immigrants in urban areas

Christos Sirros, Québec Delegate General in Brussels; Jean-Luc Vanraes, Brussels MP and President of the Flemish Community Commission; Anie Samson, Mayor of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc Extension; Annemie Maes, Brussels MP; Nawal Beckhechi, Political Advisor to the Mayor; and Fouad Ahidar, Brussels MP.

Since immigrant integration is an issue common to a number of countries, a symposium on the integration of immigrants in urban areas was organized by the Canadian Embassy and the Mission to the European Union, in collaboration with the Québec Government Office in Brussels and the King Baudouin Foundation. The symposium was an opportunity to share good practices in this regard and compare the situation in five cities: Antwerp, Brussels, Verviers, Toronto and Montréal.

The event was held in Brussels on March 20 and was moderated by Flemish radio and television journalist Hanne Decoutere. Several stakeholders who are active in the field were on hand to talk about their experiences. Representing Québec, Anie Samson, Mayor of the Villeray - Saint - Michel - Parc Extension Borough, and Nawal Bekhechi, Political Advisor to the Mayor, discussed immigrant integration in this multicultural neighbourhood of Montréal where no fewer than forty languages are spoken.

Representatives from Toronto, Antwerp, Brussels and Verviers also shared their experiences and built bridges of cooperation among one other.

Beforehand, the following experts in the field gave an overview of key issues:

  • Liz Collett, Director, Migration Policy Institute Europe
  • Jean-Pierre Garson, former head of the International Migration Division, OECD
  • Doug Saunders, journalist at The Globe and Mail and author of Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World.

Ms. Samson and Ms. Bekhechi completed their stay in Brussels with a series of on-site visits to meet with stakeholders who are constantly seeking solutions for better immigrant integration. They were also received by Guy Vanhengel, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, and his predecessor Jean-Luc Vanraes, who visited the Parc-Extension neighbourhood during his mission to Québec last September.
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