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Dilemmas and Challenges of Democratic Participation of Immigrants in Small Atlantic Canadian Communities

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Canadian Perspectives on Immigration in Small Cities

Part of the book series: International Perspectives on Migration ((IPMI,volume 12))

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This chapter dwells on a portion of the dilemmas and challenges of democratic participation, exclusion, and marginalization of ethno-cultural immigrants in Atlantic Canadian communities. It reframes the term “welcoming communities” into a political sphere. Are politically active immigrants more apt to remain in their host community? The intersection of newcomers’ civic integration and social participation is one of the main objectives of the Canadian Multicultural Policy and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, today, discussions regarding the political participation of immigrants not only include terms such as integration and civic participation but national security and disenfranchisement as well. Indeed, some types of political participation are the antithesis of civic integration and citizenship. The objective of this chapter is to add to this discussion by examining the notions and actions of political participation of ethno-cultural immigrants in Atlantic Canada. For this chapter, political participation is self-defined by the participants. Do they see participation as voting in elections or is it an ongoing process such as running for boards, joining political groups, and protesting/advocating political causes? Does political participation increase civic integration and retention or does it promote separateness? Are the Atlantic Canada communities welcoming and inclusive? The chapter presents various viewpoints from diverse groups and analyzes factors of inclusion or exclusion in the democratic participation processes in small communities in Canada.

Author was deceased at the time of publication.

Due to the untimely passing of Dr. Otilla Chareka on March 16, 2011, this chapter appears in its original version with minor revisions and data updates by the editors.

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Correspondence to Ottilia Chareka .

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Annex A

Annex A

Sex:   Male   Female


Date of birth:

Country of birth:

Highest level of education:


Mother tongue language:

Other spoken languages:

Date of arrival in Canada:

Citizenship status in Canada:

Directions: Please complete the following statements by placing a check mark in the space provided to the right of each statement.







Strongly agree




Strongly disagree


Rating scale






1. I am interested in learning about the Canadian government and its political system


2. Considering the time I arrived in Canada, I have been formally taught about the Canadian government and its political system


3. Considering the time I arrived in Canada, I have never been formally taught about the Canadian government and its political system


4. I am a member of a Canadian political party


5. I have attended political party forums/rallies


6. I have donated money to a political party


7. I have campaigned for a political party


8. My Canadian neighbors in my community welcomed me and have talked with me about politics in Canada and I feel fully integrated in the community


9. My Canadian neighbors in my community have invited me to attend a political forum/rally


10. I have talked about Canadian politics in our immigrant circle/gatherings


11. I read and follow in newspapers and magazines about Canadian politics


12. I voted in every election in Canada


13. Immigrants should be able to vote in all elections even if they are not Canadian citizens yet


15. Members of all ethnic, cultural, or racial groups should be encouraged to run in elections for political office


16. I am interested in politics but don’t take any active part


17. I take an active interest in politics


18. I’m not interested in politics at all


19. I feel patriotic about Canada


20. I am proud to be known as a Canadian citizen or resident


21. I see myself identifying closely with Canada


22. I trust the Canadian federal government to do what is right all of the time


23. I have been elected as a representative of an immigrant community organization


24. I have been elected as a representative of a local, provincial, or federal position


25. I have volunteered in an environmental community project


26. I volunteered for charity to help Canadians


27. I have volunteered for charity to help people in my former country of origin


28. I have membership in a social action group, e.g., Greenpeace or Mothers Against Drunk Driving


29. Volunteering is a form of democratic participation


30. I have been involved in violent public demonstration


31. I have been involved in peaceful public demonstration


32. I have signed a petition before


33. I plan to protest in the future


35. Any form of protest is democratic participation


36. Voting and running for a political office are forms of democratic participation


37. Immigrants like me don’t have a say about what the government does


38. I don’t think that people in the government care much about what immigrant people like me think


39. Canadian political parties are only interested in immigrants’ votes and not in their opinions


40. Most Canadian people in the government are honest


41. Immigrants who are Canadian citizens have much say about how the government runs things


42. It is important to vote


43. I personally feel prepared to vote in a federal election and I know the political parties well


44. I talk and discuss about political events, ideas, and attitudes in my family


45. I know and I have been taught about my rights and responsibilities in Canada


46. When I vote I feel I make a difference


47. When I volunteer I feel I make a difference


48. When I protest I feel I make a difference


49. Canada is a multicultural country which has tried to integrate immigrants in the Canadian society


50. Multicultural associations and other government agencies that work closely with recent immigrants are doing more work in educating them about democratic participation and integrating them in the society

  1. Comments: Write any other comments you want in relation to democratic participation and integration of immigrants in Canada

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Chareka, O. (2017). Dilemmas and Challenges of Democratic Participation of Immigrants in Small Atlantic Canadian Communities. In: Tibe Bonifacio, G., Drolet, J. (eds) Canadian Perspectives on Immigration in Small Cities. International Perspectives on Migration, vol 12. Springer, Cham.

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