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Reference Manual

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For Any Community Reintegration Program for Ethnocultural Offenders

By Dr. Emerson Douyon, Psychologist Marcel Kabundi, Jurist–Criminologist
Foreword Dr. Larry Motiuk, Director General, Correctional Programs and
Reintegration, National Headquarters–Ottawa

Emerson Douyon, Ph.D.
Professor (retired), School of Criminology
University of Montreal, Montreal (Quebec)

Marcel Kabundi, M.Sc.; LL.M
National Manager
Ethnocultural Programs
Reintegration Programs Division
Correctionnal Operations and Programs
340 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa (Ontario) Canada K1A 0P9
Fax: 613-996-0428

Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2007

Cat. No. PS84-12/2007
ISBN 978-0-662-49767-7

March 2007


We would like to especially acknowledge the department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) for the funding of this project within the inclusive institutions initiative.

Notice to the reader

"Karibu" is a Swahili term that means welcome. It is used when you receive a visitor.

This handbook does not claim to provide all the answers to all questions. However, it is intended to fulfil the requests of various groups of offenders: Having a space to allow ethnocultural inmates to express their needs and concerns in a group setting and to talk about the traditions and values of their country of origin, their mode of expression and their spiritual orientation.

It is primarily intended as a basic tool for cross-cultural meetings. It does not contain clinical or educational procedures, such as interviewing techniques, methods for analyzing critical incidents, psychodrama or precise, culturally adapted instructions for conflict management or intervention in crisis situations. However, Karibu is likely to make everyone want to move on to the next stage.

This manual should be completed eventually using an appropriate educational guide and concrete techniques such as videos, exercises and demonstrations based on scenarios.


Mission and Core Values of Correctional Service of Canada*

The correctional service of Canada, as part of the criminal justice system and respecting the rule of law, contributes to the public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens, while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control.

Core Value 1

We respect the dignity of individuals, the rights of all members of society, and the potential for human growth and development.

Core Value 2

We recognize that the offender has the potential to live as a law-abiding citizen.

Core Value 3

We believe that our strength and our major resource in achieving our objectives is our staff and that human relationships are the cornerstone of our endeavour.

Core Value 4

We believe that the sharing of ideas, knowledge, values and experience, nationally and internationally, is essential to the achievement of our Mission.

Core Value 5

We believe in managing the Service with openness and integrity and we are accountable to the Minister of the Public Safety Canada.

* Excerpts from the Mission document of the Correctional Service of Canada.


Offender reintegration programs play an educational role. They seek to modify the behaviour of offenders to foster reintegration into their environment.

The specific features of this reference manual for any reintegration program for offenders from cultural communities are that it considers the text and context, content and container, message and messenger and the people it was designed for. One should not relegate the culture of offenders or of staff to the shadows, but rather endeavours to create a dialogue between these cultures.

This allows everyone, offenders and caseworkers, to take a fresh approach and to look at the world, problems and solutions from different angles. All ethnocultural offenders follow their own path and find their own way to negotiate through the prison culture. If they are not Canadian citizens, their eventual deportation to their country of origin will affect their fate in a different way.

From one group to another and within each group, though the crimes may be similar, "cultural patterns" will affect how each person relates to his or her offence. A person’s culture provides a certain number of mechanisms for expressing emotion generated by traumatic experiences. It helps to identify an offender’s reading of reality to accompany them more effectively through their process of change.

In the West, words carry a lot of weight. They are the preferred means of communication. Images and writing play a supporting role in language. In other cultures, silence, non-verbal signs, graffiti, imitation, gestures, posture, body language, stories, mime, symbols, proverbs, and rites of passage and initiation are more important than speech. They tend to mean more than words.

This reference manual aims to reach beyond behaviour and grasp the "inner person" who expresses, interprets and disguises his offences under the cloak of culture. In the middle ground between offender values and cultural values, we must sort things through to identify boundaries and begin a process of genuine change in our relationships with others.

Larry Motiuk, Ph.D.
Director General
Correctional Programs and Reintegration

Lesson 1 Key concepts

Race; Culture; Ethnic Group; Stereotype; Prejudice; Scapegoat; Foreigner; Identity; Difference; Xenophobia; Ethnocentricity; Racism; Discrimination; Diaspora; Racial profiling; Ethnic minorities; Multiculturalism.


Culture is a remnant from of our past experiences in a group within a given territory. It is our way of perceiving the world, of relating to others, to the world around us (contingencies), and with what exceeds our immediate experience (transcendent).

It is a filter or model for interpreting reality.

A specific culture refers to a group of complex traits that characterize how a group lives. These traits can include:

  • Family structure or rules of interacting;
  • Habitat, history and language;
  • Customs, traditions, beliefs, myths, proverbs;
  • Body language, mime, rites of passage, sense of humour;
  • Crafts, art, folklore, culinary practices and preferences;
  • The role of the body and of language in communication;
  • Seduction techniques or approaches to love, wedding customs;
  • The range of emotions, conflict resolution and intervention strategies;
  • Methods of raising, disciplining and punishing children;
  • Concept of justice.

At a community level, culture refers to a series of public and standardized values. Culture is not static and rigid, but evolves and changes as new facts or new and unusual events occur. Environments change, and so do individuals. The intercultural contact among majority and minority groups provide a good illustration of how values change in a pluralistic society.


This concept applied originally to Jews forced to leave and disperse throughout the world to flee persecution by Christians. Today the word is used more and more to describe national groups that have emigrated and dispersed to different countries. The Latin American, Haitian, Lebanese and Russian diasporas, "Little Italy" or "Chinatown" in Montreal or Vancouver, are all examples of diasporas in Canada. The challenge is to pass from alien status to that of a full-fledged national.

These diasporas, sometimes grouped together in isolates, are an attraction to tourists, students, immigrants, permanent residents and citizens of these ethno-cultural groups. They are different yet related to their cultures of origin by certain traditions, culinary preferences, alternative medical practices, values, rituals and symbols. Diasporas constitute an obligatory crossing point for the meeting and intermixing of cultures.


This is an ambiguous concept, used as much by racists as by anti-racists. The evocation of difference can serve equally to praise or to denigrate others.

Placing value on difference can be an excuse for legitimizing unequal treatment or resorting to violence. Thus, to assert a "national preference" sometimes means proclaiming differences to protect oneself from others, to keep them at a distance, and to defend and protect the values of one's group.

The recognition and acceptance of cultural differences are relatively recent trends. Other people can be sources of enrichment rather than impoverishment to a community. In the history of humanity, strangers were long considered "barbarians" or " savages" and were treated differently. The paradox is that former victims of racism are those who today call for special treatment based on such difference. They remind others of the very things they sometimes try to forget.

But difference also undergoes change. Respecting difference is not a license for seeking special privileges. It means that the Other has a right to dignity and equality. But the right to be different does not necessarily imply a difference in rights.


While racism, ethnocentricity and xenophobia refer to theories, beliefs and attitudes, discrimination applies to behaviours and actions. These include the practices of segregation, apartheid, distinction or exclusion with regard to other groups (ethnic, cultural, social or religious).

One distinguishes similarity and likeness in various areas. There are ethnic areas (Black neighbourhoods in Halifax), or religious areas such as cemeteries reserved respectively for Catholics, Protestants, Moslems and Jews in the Montreal region. One can also note socio-economic niches such as certain ghettos in large cities.

Discrimination sometimes assumes extreme and institutionalized forms enshrined in laws such as:

  • The Jewish Ghetto (Venice, 1516-1866);
  • Apartheid or separate development in South Africa;
  • The Gypsies of Eastern Europe;
  • Black districts or segregation in the southern United States;
  • Aboriginal reserves in Canada (Indian Act).

Today discriminatory practices usually take more diluted and subtle forms. Thus we speak of the "everyday mini-Apartheid," characterizing various discriminations with regard to the minority groups protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Charter of Rights and the anti-discrimination laws of other provinces: discrimination in housing, exclusion from certain bars and restaurants, obstacles to equal access in the workplace, etc.

From this perspective, discrimination, as Gordon Allport (1958) said so well, is to "deny to individuals or groups of people equality of treatment which they may wish." This discrimination applies equally to comments, speech, writing, regulations, prohibitions, preferences, privileges and biased treatment practices.


This word evokes images of the arrival on the horizon of a being whose sudden presence changes our perception of daily life. Because this presence is out of kilter or harmony with the group, the ethnic group, the clan or the family, it seems strange, unfamiliar and generates anxiety and mistrust. This strange creature from an unknown world is initially kept at a distance, far from away from our "personal space."

Foreigners feel as if they are being watched and constantly put to the test. Before they can become possible friends, they are possible enemies. They must perpetually reassure others. In the words of Albert Camus, "Being a stranger is hard. It is not easy to stop being one." The stranger fulfills an essential function: He is a scapegoat on which we project our fantasies.

The practice of continuing to perceive and treat immigrants like strangers even after many years of interaction with nationals constitutes a real source of interethnic conflict. Beyond a certain point, "stranger anxiety" becomes panic, fear of being invaded, submerged or disappearing as a group.

This identity reaction has been characterized as a threshold of tolerance or "tolerability threshold." It is impossible to objectively measure this qualitative phenomenon.

Ethnic group

A concept related to culture and race. When culture refers to the behaviour and practices of a large group, the group itself is called an ethnic group.

The concept of ethnic group is a cultural and distinctly human one, whereas race (breed) is a biological category for animals.

Race evokes ideas of homogeneity, purity of the species, and exclusion. Dog and cats can be categorized by breed, but Africans or Asians are ethnic groups.

In principle, an ethnic group is larger than a family or tribe; a clan can extend beyond the limits of a national boundary. An ethnic group emphasizes a sense of belonging. Thus, the French or Hausa Niger ethnic groups in Nigeria refer to different communities with a common thread that could be ancestors, language or history.

Ethnic Minorities

This term refers to groups within a larger demographic unit. The term cultural communities is also used more or less interchangeably. Minorities are defined by their relation to power. They are generally powerless groups, marginalized, sometimes excluded, that assert their differences and want to be recognized based on their otherness. They may need protection from possible abuses by the majority. (International Bill of Rights, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Charter of Human Rights).

With regard to existing power, minorities aspire to play a national role. They are not disposed toward assimilation or melding with the majority to the point of completely disappearing. They feel a duty to remember their history and pass it on to future generations.

Depending on one's perspective, ethnic minorities can be subclassified as linguistic minorities (Latinos), religious minorities (Muslims, Jews) or cultural minorities (Greeks, Italians, Armenians).

It is possible, although unfortunate, to use the catch-all concept of "visible minorities" to indicate more perceptible or noticeable groups. These are the "non-Caucasians," which can constitute a circuitous and suspect means of reintroducing the obsolete and mythical concept of race.

In this perspective, one distinguishes ethnic or visible minorities that include Blacks, Arabs, Asians, biologically and culturally mixed groups. People of British and European French ancestry are designated in Canada by the term "founding peoples" and the indigenous people constitute a separate class, that of the "First Nations," even though ethnicity characterizes the frame of reference of all human beings and all groups combined.

This ambiguous classification system mixes all kinds of references: geographic, historical, linguistic and political considerations. Hence use of the expression "ethno-cultural minorities" to account for physical characteristics (excluding race) and the peculiarities of national and regional cultures.


Ethnocentricity arises from a normal tendency at both the cognitive and affective levels: others see, think and feel as I do, despite evidence to the contrary. Our father is the strongest, our children are the most beautiful, the most intelligent, our family is the most united, our country is the best. The problem begins the moment we choose to systematically assign privilege to our own culture to the detriment of everyone else. It is through our own point of view, our particular set of norms, that we evaluate others as inferior or incompetent. From this viewpoint, we try to dominate them to change them against their will based on our cultural values and preferences.

Ethnocentrism is the inability to shift focus from ourselves, to expand our perception of the world. In contrast to ethnocentricity, discovery and learning about diversity represents progress in our relations with other cultures.


A very important concept used in a variety of contexts. General meaning: It is the ability to recognize oneself as being the same despite variations in space, time and circumstances. It is a "sense of being," of forming a distinct person, unique in relation to others.

It involves an internal structure developed through an evolving process that spans from birth to death. We can always become something other than we were yesterday, or are today.

There are identity markers: name, opinion, gender, age, religion, marital status, DNA, fingerprints, body ornaments, initiation marks, tattoos, etc.

Behaviour is generally perceived as an indicator of identity. Nevertheless, what one is (the self) can be different from what one shows, displays or projects to others (self image). In other words, our deep personal identity is not always clear, transparent and accessible. It can be fluid (period of adolescent introspection). Sometimes an identity can be dual or multiple. Thus we speak of dissociation, split personality (possession, trances or schizophrenia, for example).

On a collective level:
Identity is not formed in a vacuum. It involves feelings shaped by the environment. It is influenced by different factors such as family, social, ethnic, cultural or national group membership.

Through our repeated contact with others, we can develop a positive or negative identity based on the models we choose or on the roles we try to play or others that are imposed on us.

Thus, offenders have a tendency to develop a negative identity based on their conception of themselves and the image reflected back to them by others.

For people of mixed heritage, who belong to minority groups, who live in pluralistic societies, or who are victims of racism, identity can become conflicted. In our exchanges with others, in contact between groups, the test is to discover our true identity, without alienation and without conflicting loyalty between our reference group and outside groups. How to become ourselves and not others.

There is also a need to be on guard against drifting identity. Identity must remain open and avoid the "mental brothel" (Roger Bastide) if it is to benefit from the wealth of exchanges with others.


To ensure unity in diversity, Canada has established a multicultural policy as part of official bilingualism. This policy, called "multiculturalism," acknowledges the existence of minorities and the need for their integration in the multi-coloured, but unified and harmonious, whole. Multiculturalism values, respects and promotes cultural difference under the umbrella of a strong Canadian identity. In this framework, ethnocultural minorities have the same rights as other national groups.

In contrast to the notion of multiculturalism, Quebec defends the concept of "cultural convergence." Emphasis is not on cultural difference, but rather on the majority culture and on the Charter of Human Rights and Youth Protection. In the eyes of Quebecers, this fundamental law represents the values they uphold, such as human dignity, gender equality, the non-denominational nature of public institutions, constitutional freedoms, economic and social rights, equal access, protection against discrimination, abuse and exploitation, etc.

Whether it involves multiculturalism or cultural convergence, the issue is to guarantee in an intercultural framework, a balance between assimilation as practised in France and the U.S.-style juxtaposition of different demographic groups. In short, neither ghettos, nor a melting pot, but a "reasonable accommodation" of culturally divergent values in view of a harmonious, balanced and successful integration.


Prejudice pertains to the realm of opinion, belief and judgment. It holds itself out as a mould for guiding an assessment of the other. It functions as a "ready-made thought" or a sort of bias, a preconceived notion, and is often imposed by outside forces. In other words, prejudice is a reactionary way of thinking that ignores objective experience or verification of fact. It dispenses with the analytical part of our brain.

As a social category, prejudice tends to operate in a fixed and rigid mode that is difficult to break. In the words of Albert Einstein, "It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." Example: an inventory of opinions about immigrants. Example: a test to define Jews in an objective manner. In 1945, Théodore Adorno said, "Anti-Semitism is the rumour about the Jews."


Race (or breed, when referring to animal species) is a concept created to designate a group of individuals within a larger species. This categorization or labelling process meets a need for classification.

This is why geography, morphology and physical characteristics, for example, have been used as criteria for classifying dogs, cats and other animal species.

For human beings, race no longer has any functional value. Biologists and geneticists have discovered that no gene marker exists for racial characteristics. There is no universal biological support or objective mental similarity that substantiates the idea of race.

Each human being is a unique individual. They may resemble each other, but they are not the same. They all have their own personality. Science regards race as a myth. Consequently, we should refer to culture rather than to race in any discussion of differences between individuals or human groups.

Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is a relatively recent form of discrimination. It differs from criminal profiling, which refers to objective facts. Racial profiling is premised on stereotyped presumptions.

The concept includes [TRANSLATION] "any action taken by one or more people in authority with respect to a person or group of persons, for reasons of safety, security or public order, that is based on factors such as race, colour, ethnic or national original or religion, without factual grounds or reasonable suspicion, that results in the person being exposed to differential treatment or scrutiny." (Human Rights and Youth Protection Commission, Québec).

Racial profiling can operate in circumstances like: Questioning, chases and searches without reasonable cause; Violations based on unreasonable or unusual grounds; Targeting of certain groups or individuals for no particular reason based on the way they dress, their appearance, mannerisms, accents, etc.

Quebec and Ontario case law on the phenomenon of racial profiling is growing as more and more ethnocultural minorities are affected by it in their dealings with the police, public and private safety, the justice system and the prison system.


Racism is a complex phenomenon that evolves and changes through the ages. It has a tendency to disguise itself in borrowed clothing: heightened ethnicity, culture presented as an absolute, unyielding identity, rigid tolerability threshold, irreconcilable differences, chauvinistic and preferential national values.

Numerous definitions of racism have been proposed by authors who emphasize different aspects or degrees. They identify:

1. Ideological or doctrinal racism: Nazism in Germany, anti-Semitism in Russia, apartheid or segregation in South Africa, the Southern Movement in the United States, the caste system in India, or the École Nouvelle in France.

2. Ordinary racism, primary or unconscious, in daily life: small exclusions, subtle or hidden discrimination, humour or caricature, stereotypical speech, offensive remarks about one or more groups.

Whatever form it takes, racism is a source of injustice and an attack on human dignity and basic rights. It can be a vehicle for hostility and inter-ethnic violence.

Racism involves a classification of mankind. It encases individuals in permanent categories and stamps them with an indelible brand of irreversible genetic predispositions. It classifies human beings as superior or inferior, masters and slaves. At the head of the human hierarchy is a dominant and presumably homogenous racial group, pure and opposed to cross-breeding.

Racism has a preference for biology, physical appearance, inherited traits, the presumed correspondence between physical characteristics and psychological and social dispositions. The tendency is to reduce the entire personality to a single dimension. Example: skin colour. In this sense, racism appears as a "radicalization of differences," an unjustified hate of the very identity of the other person who is constantly referred back to his roots.


This expression derives from Jewish tradition. During Yom Kippur, it was customary to unite the community around two goats; one was offered in sacrifice to God and one was burdened with the sins of Israel and chased into the forest symbolically populated with wild animals, outlaws, monsters and demons.

Consequently, a scapegoat is to designate someone presumed responsible for our troubles.

On a collective level, the dominant group excuses itself, avoids guilt or unloads its worries by victimizing members of the subordinate group. This distracts us from our cares, fears and hostility, while projecting wrongdoing, blame or crime on others.

Example: foreigners, immigrants and minority groups can be targeted as scapegoats.


A stereotype is a cliché or an image. It begins with a trait, an indication or a characteristic observed in an individual and, based on this isolated observation, is generalized to include an entire group. Such generalization is abusive, simplistic and reductionist. The resulting general image is not based on any comprehensive validation, not to mention the distinctive features of a case or individual differences. Examples: stereotypical images of Blacks, Jews, Arabs and Italians.


Xenophobia is the irrational fear of foreigners and their otherness. It manifests itself in attitudes of suspicion, rejection and exclusion. Because of their dissimilarity, other people evoke reactions of avoidance or distancing for fear of being tainted or contaminated. A person who emerges from nowhere or from a faraway or unknown place represents a threat of dissolution of the identity of the group and its values.

Xenophobes feels safe only among their own people, surrounded by those look the same, belong to the same village and share the same values. "I love Moroccans, but only in Morocco," said Jean-Marie Lepen. For xenophobes, the closer foreigners come, the more threatening they seem, the more they evoke an "identity panic," hence the tendency to erect a "threshold" to clearly mark the boundaries not to be exceeded when in contact with one another.

Lesson 2 Ethnocultural Differences and Intervention challenges

Cultural Distinctiveness in a Pluralistic Society; The Urban Environment and Diaspora Life; Culture Shock and Acceptance of Others; Reasonable Accommodation and Impact on Prison Life.


In its mission statement, the Correctional Service takes on a dual role: the care and custody of offenders, and helping them become law-abiding citizens. Each offender is evaluated accordingly.

Their criminal profile examines their lives before incarceration and their rehabilitation potential. This backward- and forward-looking examination provides a framework for control, management and prevention in the larger sense. Attention should be paid as much to offenders' entry into the correctional system and their progress in the institutions, as to their release from, and later return for some, in this system.

During incarceration, management aims, above and beyond their safety, to ensure the general well-being, rights and obligations, and change or modification in the offenders' behaviour. From the rehabilitation standpoint, programs have been designed for the majority. But what about the ethnocultural minorities that are increasingly represented within the system?

How can they be encouraged to change without accounting, in addition to the universal dimension of humane nature, for their needs, present and future aspirations, concerns, traditions and values? CSC Commissioner's Directive 767 requires that cultural diversity be reflected in dealings with inmate populations.

In order to rise to the challenges of such intervention, the following parameters must be considered:

1. Cultural distinctivenessin a pluralistic society

In our world, homogeneous societies are increasingly rare. Heterogeneity is becoming the dominant trend due to increased migration. Many countries and states are becoming demographically diverse, especially in the West.

In most countries, groups of people, whether they regard themselves as a people, a nation or an ethnic group, are becoming increasingly diverse. What differentiates a large group from another is its attachment to a language and a common history.

In larger cities, even members of the same community define themselves by their different traditions and specific cultural characteristics. Black populations with a common African heritage in Canada are divided among Anglophones and Francophones and define themselves primarily as Afro-Canadians (Halifax), West Indian (Montreal) or African (Ottawa). Caucasians, Asians, Latinos and Aboriginals could be divided into distinct sub-groups and the labelling process could continue indefinitely.

From this point of view, Canada, like other countries, is an experiment in ethnocultural mixing. From the beginning of our history, Canada has served as a meeting place for different cultures. Increasing cohabitation has gradually brought together different populations: First Nations, Aboriginals, Inuit, founding peoples of European origin, Métis, Asian, Jewish, Blacks from Canada and elsewhere and immigrants from many other cultures.

The result of this historical brew is the emergence of a richer, multiethnic and pluralistic society, where diverse religions, cultures, languages and traditions co-exist. This demographic trend has created many different ethnic identities within the same country.

Contact and interaction among populations, each group eventually defines itself in relation to cultural characteristics that entail values. This engenders a range of attitudes, reactions, perceptions and varied behavioural responses. Between stimulus and response, culture can come into play as an intermediary variable and create unpredictable reactions.

The concept of family may have different emotional connotations for Latinos, Chinese or Jamaicans because they have different ways of expressing their emotions and different channels for exhibiting ties of belonging. We must alter the evaluation criteria accordingly. What may seem normal in one culture may appear dysfunctional in another. We cannot assume that Black offenders will behave like Caucasian or Asian offenders, even though all three cases may involve offenders. Culture, not "race," is the distinguishing factor. This is why the style of Haitian and Jamaican offenders is very different than Jewish or Italian offenders.

2. The urban environment and Diaspora life

Like animals, we gain a sense of ownership by which we ascribe a particular value to the environment. Territory is not only the physical space that surrounds us and where we place our possessions and belongings. It also reflects who we are and is charged with symbolic meaning.

When we arrive in new surroundings, we begin by exploring it until it becomes familiar. We identify it with benchmarks and points of reference. Once fully explored, our habitat becomes a personal place where we begin to establish ties with others. We develop a sense of belonging to a community.

In this environment, we establish standards of sharing or dominance. Which person or which group is entitled to the first bite of food, depending on its size, strength, number and seniority? This is how we establish legitimacy and hierarchy in our relationships with others in order to attain a certain balance and harmony.

As we walk through the urban jungle, we quickly realize that the big city is ghettoized. Apart from the city as we see it exists the city as we imagine it, conforming to our fantasies. In other words, our mental map of the city does not coincide with the physical map. For example, to hear young members of street gangs describe Montreal and its attractive and ugly areas, its ethnic points of reference, pockets of racial violence, danger zones and grey areas that demand special caution, as if in enemy territory, Montreal is no longer recognizable as the picturesque destination on tourist maps.

In any large urban centre, there are open areas and closed areas, safe zones and danger zones. Paradoxically, areas without immigrants are the ones that often exhibit the greatest fear of migration. The areas most afraid of crime are the ones the least troubled by crime.

Sometimes the territory includes enclaves called "ghettos, "reserves" or something else. This territorial demarcation can indicate the status of the relationships between various ethnic groups. It can be a form of apartheid, or the opposite, a kind of insularity and willing self-segregation.

The ethnic neighbourhoods in large cities participate in this diasporic social organization. While these neighbourhoods sometimes represent necessary transition points for the acculturation of migrants, they can also become permanent dwelling places that facilitate integration into a new environment while maintaining ties and bridges to the past, origins and roots. In many cases, as Roger Bastide noted in The Sociology of Mental Disorder, this environment can help preserve psychological balance during the migration experience.

In these neighbourhoods, primarily inhabited by people who look like us (Little Italy in Montreal, Vancouver's Chinatown, the Vietnamese restaurant section in Côte-des Neiges in Montreal, the Hassidic Jewish neighbourhood in Outremont, etc.), residents seem to have rearranged the landscape and tinged the air with a scent of the exotic. These living areas, a comfortable shelter from the blows of fate, represent islands of their home culture to the cultural communities.

The closed world of penitentiaries sometimes closely resembles what an inmate from one of these communities experiences on the outside: clearly defined territories, the physical compared to the mental map of the institution, intercultural relationships, group belonging drawn along ethnic, linguistic or cultural lines or melting into a great All-anonymous, plural whole. Everyone moves surrounded by their "protective bubble" and keeps a careful distance from the others. Intimacy, proximity, the invasion of personal space, distance created by words, gestures, mimicry, posture, tolerance for the sounds and smells of others, etc.

We know that members of ethnocultural groups have different concepts of proximity than the majority. Blacks admit that they speak loudly, gesture and yell at others from a distance. Arabs tend to get closer rather than keep a distance from others. Haitians express their emotions overtly, whereas Asians hide them and do not tend to share their feelings with a stranger. It is therefore not surprising that inmates in an institution tend to gravitate toward their ethnic group.

3. Culture shock, perspectives on change and acceptance of the other

All offenders, as individuals, have their own culture. This is the "invisible" side of their personality. It is shaped by their upbringing and the traditions, language and history of their cultural group. In this sense, they are a product of their culture. This is the key that prompts us to discover the other.

Faced with a new reality such as the penitentiary, offenders try to understand their environment and invest meaning in their experiences with others. When confronted with ambiguity, they tend to refer back to their usual frame of reference, i.e., the values of their group. They resort to the "basic personality" of their culture of origin to frame their responses. If the offender is Muslim, for example, we can expect certain religious "models" to prevail in his culture.

When the institution intervenes with the offender, the action bears on his culture first. The focus is on changing certain learned behaviour. While it is fairly easy to change the individual, transforming a person's ethnic or cultural identity is a much more daunting challenge. In a way, it is like asking people to give up the way they define themselves.

When people from different cultures come together, an intercultural exchange is inevitable. Such a meeting can be perceived as a shock or as an opportunity for mutual sharing and growth. Trauma results when one attempts to lock the other into immutable categories like race, or reduce him to stereotypes based on our own prejudices. This creates the risk of transforming the other into a scapegoat or outsider. Evolution is possible when each person accepts the other along with his cultural values, differences and uniqueness.

4. Reasonable accommodation and its impact on penitentiary life

A penitentiary is a living environment, a micro-society. The increasingly multicultural nature of this environment makes exchanges between individuals more intense and complex. How can we manage this diversity of clashing values? How can we harmonize all intercultural relationships through so-called reasonable accommodation?

Decoding the concept

According to Quebec's Human Rights and Youth Protection Commission, reasonable accommodation is a legal obligation arising from the right to equality applicable in situations of discrimination and consisting of altering a standard or practice of universal scope by allowing differential treatment to a person who, otherwise, would have been penalized by the application of such a standard.

There is no obligation to accommodate in cases of duress. This technical concept, established in the United States, was incorporated into Canadian law following a Supreme Court decision in 1985. It focuses mainly on discrimination in different areas: work, religion, education, recreation, etc.

It is an individual measure that compensates for a disability, absence due to pregnancy, illness, accident or religious convictions, depending upon the circumstances. Equality, according to the Commission, does not mean everyone is treated the same. Sometimes, people must be treated differently to treat them equally. This explains the obligation of institutions or companies to adjust their standards, rules and practices to a person's specific situation.

This legal obligation refers back to the right to equality enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights. It is supported by case law in the aim of halting discrimination.

Implementation shortfalls

The debate surrounding the idea of reasonable accommodation has experienced some setbacks because of a shift in meaning from one area to another. All accommodation is not necessarily reasonable, and confusion surrounding the types of accommodation leads to outcries with a hint of intolerance.

This problem has been more hotly debated in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. In Vancouver, no one talks about majority culture. In Ontario, difference is a more frequent and seemingly accepted occurrence. In Quebec, the Kirpan and the Sikh turban, the Islamic hijab, prayers in schools and at city council meetings, conspicuous religious symbols, the connection between statutory holidays and religious practices, taboos and prohibitions regarding food, the body, gender and mixing, male-female relations, have come up against different values.

The fundamental issues inherent in reasonable accommodation are presented from different angles:

  • The features of Quebec society: Desire to live in French;
  • Secular aspirations;
  • Support for shared values symbolized by the Charter of Rights;
  • Equality in male-female relations;
  • Promotion of the majority's values in addressing minority group demands;
  • Strengthening of Quebec identity to counter the feared erosion of values through cultural diversity.

Without suggesting latent xenophobia, the debate on reasonable accommodation that culminated in the creation of a government board of inquiry threw the spotlight on immigration and multiculturalism issues. The positions centred on the following assumptions:

  • The less we know about cultural communities, the more we tend to distrust them. Viewed through the eyes of certain isolated rural communities, like Hérouxville, these communities project a distant, skewed image.
  • The closer we get to them through interaction and neighbourly behaviour, the more we can appreciate them.
  • The more that cultural distance narrows, the more we come face to face with the annoyances of living in the same area.
  • The more that inter-ethnic relations reach the urban saturation point, the more we turn our attention to migration and the compatibility of far-removed cultures.
  • We have now come full circle in the history of immigration: open or closed, homogeneous or diverse.
Impact on prison life

After spending a lot of time listening to inmates and others during conversations with them in Canadian penitentiaries, we can confirm that managing ethnocultural diversity often involves reasonable accommodation. Halal and kosher food, West Indian or African products, ethnic or religious rites, sacred grounds, spirituality practices and so on give rise to negotiation, friendly agreement and compromise within the limits of safety, institutional standards, individual rights and collective traditions, not to mention without "excessive force" by the Correctional Service of Canada.

Lesson 3 Distinction Between Criminal and Cultural Behaviour

Crime As a Legal Concept; The Violation of a Legal Standard or a Law; The Psychological Concept of Crime: The Violation of Values; Deviancy and Criminality; Questions About Values; Personality and Behaviour Among Offenders; Ethnic Criminality.

1. Crime as a legal concept

Every society draws up rules to make life easier for its members. These rules prescribe norms that can vary from one culture to another. Within each culture, however, there are a certain number of public, standardized values that are imposed on us as models for guiding our behaviour.

Behaviour will be valued to the extent that it conforms to the normative frame of reference. When individuals seriously deviate to the point of jeopardizing non-negotiable values such as respect for life, physical safety, and the safety of property or possessions, these deviations are punished to restore balance and harmony. In this regard, criminal means anything that violates a legal norm or a law.

2. Crime as a psychological concept

The law is a codification of values. An offender is not judged only in relation to a rule or what is prohibited but also according to the values inherent in his interaction with others. When we say that an offender's values are unacceptable, we refer to the failure to acknowledge others as a value and as the source of a rule worthy of respect. What is devalued is both the rule and the source of the rule. The issue is not so much determining whether the offender is different than others, but rather, why he was unable to understand or internalize the public values on which the law is founded.

3. Deviancy and criminality

Cultural norms concern learned behaviour as opposed to behaviour that is innate or biological. They govern everyone like a paradigm or frame of reference for live, and the rules can change. Culture of origin cannot be used as a defence or excuse for deviations from the new rules. It is as though there were a kind of implicit contract between our new environment and us. Between the rules of the old culture and the new is room for negotiation, for reaching reasonable accommodation in the cultural arena.

4. Questions about values

A. Limits

The difference between offenders and others concerns a disagreement with a number of basic values. Is it reasonable to perceive and to treat everyone whose values differ from our values as criminals? Should we punish illegality, morals or non-conformity with values?

All societies allow for a margin of disagreement or deviation. This sometimes shapes social advancement. With this in mind, André Gide once said "The world will be saved, if it can be saved, only by rebels." Or, Anatole France: "What great immorality, the morality of the future." All of this fits into theoretical and philosophical line of thought on the evolution of society. Great figures in history, like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Abbé Pierre, were models in this respect.

On the other hand, all societies set limits on challenges. If a person decides to practise excessively extreme values, especially in the social realm, as a substitute for other, apparently more comfortable values, they run the risk of changing categories. Deviance then turns into crime. The behaviour is considered dysfunctional and outside of social conditioning.

B. Traditional values and new values

The offender must be evaluated in relation to traditional values.

  • He accepts these values.
  • What is challenged here are the relatively illegal means used to achieve goals.
    E.g.: Private property: The offender does not challenge this value itself, but if he repeatedly commits theft, the reason is that the offender does not respect the property of others.
  • He is not interested in transforming society. He lives with his imperfections and benefits from them in illegitimate, illegal ways.
  • A deviant, on the other hand, must be evaluated according to new values.
  • Instead of playing the game and then trying to cheat (like a criminal or offender), he starts out by challenging the very foundations of the game and its rules.
  • He raises the issue of "mental reconversion," i.e. a different approach to values.
  • He looks not for profit but for emotional gratification or a mentally or morally liberating experience.
  • What matters most is the quest for authentic experiences or "existential validation."

For example, consider the drug addict who may occasionally engage in civil disobedience.

5. Offender's personality and behaviour

Offenders have been variously studied. Certain traits make up their personalities such as:

  • Egocentricity (Inability to shift the focus outside oneself);
  • Immaturity (fun-seeking);
  • Impulsiveness (problems delaying the gratification of needs);
  • Hostility directed toward others;
  • Lack of consideration for others;
  • Negative self-image;
  • Feeling of injustice, etc.

These among many other characteristics explain why the core of an offender's personality contains "patterns" or ways of thinking and behaving that tend to lead him to repeated irresponsible behaviour.

Whatever the nature of the motivations in question, offenders still have some degree of personal choice. They cannot always point to accidents or circumstances as an excuse. They know the risks. Chance may play a very little part in recidivism compared to their intentions, lifestyle choices, and the pull of structures that foster association with criminal peers.

6. Ethnic criminality

A. Migration and deviant behaviour

Along with migratory movement, the image of criminal behaviour tends to change. The clienteles of our courts and our prison populations are becoming more diverse. We cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between migration, race and criminality as we one did in the past by looking for a scapegoat to blame as the cause of certain social problems.

Today the terminology has changed. We no longer refer to "race," which has been exposed as a false and outmoded concept.

However, in the field of criminality, we refer to new parameters: culture and ethnicity. We try to determine the contribution that ethnocultural groups make to crime. We refer to ethnic crime, taking care to distinguish between the offences, their perpetrators and the ethnocultural communities they belong to.

B. A glance at crime statistics and the ethnic variable

First of all, what figures are under debate? For example, we would refer to a report by the Correctional Service of Canada Research Branch (2004 – No R-144). Source:

Entitled: A Profile of Visible Minority Offenders in the Federal Canadian Correctional System, excerpts of the findings read:

"The proportion of visible minority offenders has increased over the last decade. In 1994, visible minorities represented approximately 9% (1,251) of those incarcerated. This increased to 11% in 1997 and has remained relatively stable since then. Similarly, there have been increases in the proportion of visible minority offenders serving time in the community.

In 1994, visible minorities represented 10% of those serving time in the community. This increased to 16 % in 2000 and has remained relatively stable since then. (…)

Visible minorities as a whole do not appear to be overrepresented among incarcerated offenders, since they account for 13% of the population in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2001). However, there is a slight over-representation of visible minority offenders serving time in the community on some form of conditional release. While Asian offenders are not over-represented, Black offenders are disproportionately represented in the CSC offender population. Although they account for about 2% of the population in Canada, Blacks make up 6% of offenders incarcerated in federal correctional facilities and 7% of those serving time in the community.

Visible minority offenders tend to be lower risk to re-offend and have different needs than Caucasian offenders. Furthermore, some differences exist among visible minority groups; specifically, Asian offenders are lower risk and lower need. It may be important to tailor programs and services to the specific needs of these groups.

In summary, visible minority offenders tend to be less "entrenched" in a criminal lifestyle than Caucasian offenders. They tend to have less extensive criminal histories, are incarcerated less often for offences against the person, and are lower in risk and need than Caucasian offenders. They also tend to have higher levels of education, less unemployment, and are less often single. These are areas that may help in rehabilitation. Among visible minority offenders, Black offenders tend to exhibit more problem areas than Asian or "other visible minority" offenders.

The differences in their characteristics and offence profiles may indicate that different types of programs or services may be needed to fully meet the needs of visible minority offenders... Statistics like these constitute a database of some relevance. Despite some epistemological disadvantages, they enable us to understand certain aspects of the evolution of ethnic groups within the legal and correctional systems. Once benchmarked and put into perspective, they can help the Correctional Service clarify the needs of inmates, adapt programs, train personnel and serve educational purposes for prevention and rehabilitation.

C. Ethnic gangs

Ethnic crime, as we can see, follows migratory movement. This is not a new phenomenon in Canada; it is, however, becoming more prominent, more sensational and more newsworthy because of heightened conflicts between minority and majority populations as well as intra- and inter-community tension. In addition to culture shock, violence and drugs act as catalysts. These kinds of observations do not substantiate the rumour circulating in France that "every young immigrant is a potential offender." In speaking of ethnic crime, we tend to focus on ethnic gangs, the cultural affinity involved in gang membership, on the integration problems facing ethnic minority youth, and the racial intolerance of certain groups toward visible minorities.

In reality, the problem is more complex than that. It goes beyond the ethnic divide. Often, it concerns multiethnic groups or groups mixed with members of the majority that use ethnicity as a springboard or an excuse. These reactive groups sometimes claim that they oppose racism in certain environments, but their very existence is an indication of the racism they are trying to fight.

The public image projected by these violent, unpredictable and disorganized splinter groups is far removed from traditional crime, which centres on a leader who holds authority. Ethnic gangs who change their names and identity to suit the circumstance lack the stability, sophistication and strategic planning of "organized crime." Nevertheless, it would be incorrect to call this inclination among certain ethnic minorities to band together a "group of friends." Within the ethnic niche, lucrative criminal activities are no different than those carried on by traditional crime.

Because these gangs are spreading in some of the communities they infiltrate and exploit, it seems natural to expect to increasingly encounter them in a prison setting. Whether they should be gathered together in the same units based on their cultural affinities, or be scattered among diversified prison populations across the country, this is one of the many issues raised by multiculturalism in the penitentiary system.

Lesson 4 Conflict resolution and emotions management in relation to culture

Ethnocultural considerations

Under the label of offender, there is a person. Being an offender is only one aspect of an individual's personality. A person, in all his complexity, cannot be reduced to one aspect of his behaviour. To understand a person, despite his reoffending, we must get to know him by his needs, values, objectives and path in life. To help an immigrant offender or an offender who has retained ties to his group or community of origin, change must be viewed in an ethnocultural context.

Here the emphasis does not focus on the offender, his deviant thinking patterns and behaviour, but rather on the "inner person" and his cultural values. What factors are involved in his relationship to a person of another culture in terms of managing his criminal behaviour? How do we expand our ability to pick up on information in our interaction with a diversified inmate population? To answer these questions, we will examine a few examples that offer a sampling of the cultures present in the correctional institutions.

A. Japanese culture: The tea ceremony

Many Western visitors complain about the difficulty of communicating with the Japanese. From the first meeting, they like to get down to talking about business and the problems to be solved. This is contrary to the Japanese way, which favours a less direct approach to entering into a relationship. Before tackling any problem, the first step is to establish a connection. We have chosen the Japanese tea ceremony because this highly symbolic ritual provides a key for sensitizing a person to another's culture. It is a prerequisite to working with people from the Japanese culture.

This ritual, inspired by Buddhism, crystallizes the essence of Japanese values. It takes three to four hours and is called Chado or the "way of the tea." After participating in this ceremony, a person can never view the Japanese in the same way again.

The space is delineated by a Tatami, a sort of large mat on which the participants sit. They kneel on large cushions, buttocks resting on their heels. (Those who have difficulty with this posture may sit on low chairs.) A written message enclosed in a vertical frame faces the visitors. This is not the menu! Rather, it contains a poem or a friendly message of welcome.

On another corner of the Tatami sits a low table that holds the equipment: burner, kettle, sophisticated utensils and a variety of small cakes, around which the hostess bustles gracefully.

What about the tea!? A lot of mixing goes into its preparation but talk is kept to a strict minimum. When the time to serve it finally arrives, many of steps have already been accomplished: the way each serviette is laid, each utensil placed, each cup presented and received, rotating it in a specific direction, orienting the tea towards the cardinal points, pouring a few drops on the ground for the spirits, the ancestors or the deceased…

The tea ceremony calls on four principles:

1. Wa: harmony between nature and man;

2. Kei: respect for people and things;

3. Sei: physical and spiritual order and cleanliness;

4. Jaxu: tranquillity and silence.

This ceremony is a life-long practice performed at home and elsewhere. It brings harmony.


1. Something we do mechanically here in the West is elsewhere revered as a stylized art performed according to a strict etiquette.

2. Interaction with the other is not limited to talk. Something comes before language: non-verbal communication and silence.

3. The importance of rituals in life. In this ceremony, everything is ritualized:

  1. The guest hierarchy;
  2. Body position: balance and flexibility;
  3. Eyes: directed at the message;
  4. Attitude: silence, deference, gratitude;
  5. Body movements: ritual of pouring and orientation;
  6. Hand movements: gesture of offering, turning the cup three times in the opposite direction, completely, thumb and index finger joined;
  7. Comments: on the composition of the tea, on the utensils that are often wedding presents, on the message, poem or dedication. In short, pleasantries used to communicate without really having to talk in a structured way about a specific problem to be solved.

4. This key provides a better understanding of the psychology of the Japanese. It is no longer enigmatic. Relating becomes easier because both parties have realized together that people are more important than their problems.

B. Chinese Culture: The intervention game

Asians are admired for their serenity, restraint and propensity for silence. In front of strangers, they control their emotions well. They are especially unlikely to open up to a stranger and confide deeply intimate aspects of their personality. How do we reach them?

The answer is partly revealed in a research project by Eva Lu Yuhwa in California with Chinese and non-Chinese (Caucasian) practitioners working with a Chinese clientele. The Caucasian practitioners complained of problems with a clientele from another culture. The research had two objectives:

  1. How to assess the problem?
  2. How to treat it?
Survey results

1. The differences between the two groups of practitioners were found to be complex and involved three aspects: ethnic, linguistic and cultural.

2. The clients behaved differently and abided by different standards, depending on whether the practitioner was of Chinese origin or not and spoke English or the vernacular. The clients had a double language or a double reference.

3. The Caucasian therapists tended to judge by the book. Their assessment of problems was more rigid and their prognosis, bleaker.

4. The Asian therapists judged the dynamics of the case differently. They took more account of the impact of culture and the circumstances of migration on the treatment provided.

5. While the Caucasian practitioners emphasized personal autonomy and separation from family, the Asian practitioners did everything to preserve the prestige of the father and safeguard the family unit.

6. The two groups of practitioners displayed very different behaviour in handling the social distance between them and their clients. The Asian practitioners began by having a meal with the family before counselling or treating the person. It is necessary to be accepted as a friend of the family before qualifying as an agent of change. Otherwise, the treatment is not as effective.

7. Overall, the Chinese practitioners kept their clientele longer, while the Caucasian practitioners lost theirs fairly quickly.


1. The practitioner is more important than technique, method or program.

2. They must take the time to establish relationships with the person and his family, and open channels for communicating with the people in his surroundings.

C. Haitian Culture
1. Culture in Haiti

Haiti is a distinctly divided society. Because of its tumultuous history, many successive ethnic groups have left their mark. This cultural montage has resulted in a mixture that makes Haitian society multi-faceted. From the capital to the provinces, from the cities to the rural areas, we sense we are passing through a multitude of traditions, many of which go back to the origins of the Haitian people.

If we want to see the showplaces of popular Haitian culture, we have to visit the backcountry, discover the "lakou" (housing unit), the "gaguère" [arena] (the circle of life around cockfighting), the cemetery (highly colourful scene of daily life, in shapes, sounds, images and symbols), the "coumbite" (group of workers singing at work while under the direction of a choirmaster), a voodoo ceremony... Sometimes you may see what appear to be strange practices.

We can ask ourselves some questions:

  • Why do the people treat each other as brothers and sisters when there is no familial relationship between them?
  • Why does the first meeting start with an expression of astonishment?
  • Why do they shout at each other from a distance?
  • Why do they talk forcefully and loudly when they are not frustrated or angry?
  • Why do they look down rather than at the other?
  • Why do they hum and "tweet" (long onomatopoeia with the tongue and lips to deliver an ambiguous message, the meaning of which depends on the context)?
  • Why do they have this ability to explode, to enter a trance, to "pretend as if"?
  • Why is a good hand in a card game sometimes accompanied by a small ritual (little hat, pinching the nostrils, shrieks, little dance steps, simulated combat movements, in a constantly noisy environment, etc.)?
  • Why this shifting attention, this generalized mistrust, this constant concern to unravel the intentions of others?
  • Why do they continually use proverbs to express thoughts, feelings and attitudes?
2. The Haitian Diaspora Culture
Imported Haitian culture is different from the culture of origin. It is affected by socio-economic class, education, membership in a specific religious group, length of residence in a foreign country, etc. The traits of the culture of origin alter with migratory patterns, the length of contact with the host country and the proximity to other cultures. What we call the Haitian Diaspora culture refers to a somewhat hidden backdrop that sometimes poorly disguises certain hidden traits of the culture of origin.


1. Haitians are accustomed to living in a highly ritualized way. From birth to death, they carry out their activities in a space that is not neutral, but loaded with symbols, signs and meaning.

2. Their behaviour is sometimes disconcerting, unpredictable and disorganized to the foreign observer.

3. Their body movements are demonstrative but not necessarily provocative or hostile.

4. Emotions are expressed through different patterns. Joy and sadness tend to be ritualized and are often expressed in a non-verbal way.

5. Their fondness for living together as a group is obvious. Don't look for gangs where they don't exist.

6. The concept of family and kinship in the Diaspora should be put in the context of migration. Beside the Western-style nuclear family coexist different types of family units with a central tendency toward matriarchy and extended family.

Lesson 5 How to Find a Job

Getting Started; Where to Look for a Job?; Preparing for a Job Opening; Resume Cover Letter; Interview...

5.1 Getting started…

What would you like to do?

When trying to find a job it is beneficial to make a list of your skills and abilities in trying to figure out what you would like to do.

Questions to ask are:

  • What recreational things am I really interested in?
  • What things do I consider myself good at doing?
  • What have other people told me I am good at?
  • What school subjects am I most interested in?
  • What school subjects am I good at?

When you're finished, take your list of interests and abilities to a school or employment counsellor, resource centre, or library. Ask for help in using their resources to see what jobs relate to the items you've listed. Try to put your list of jobs in order of what you like, then, in order of how much demand there is for each job. Your next step is to look at how you can develop the necessary skills and knowledge to get the jobs you want.

Here are some ideas:

  • Plan information interviews with people who work in that field, including employers.
  • Consider what types of volunteer work could help you get relevant experience and skills.
  • Read industry and trade magazines and other material.
  • Look into courses and seminars through continuing education.

Get more suggestions from counsellors, teachers, employers, neighbours, your friends, their parents, and your family.

5.2 Where to look for a job?

Talk to people

Employers, friends, relatives, neighbours, employment counsellors, everyone. This is no time to be shy. Tell them what kind of job you're looking for, ask them to tell you if they hear of anything, and ask them to check with their friends too. Most people will help if they can, and nobody will get mad at you for asking. It makes sense to have twenty people looking instead of just one. Ask them if they've heard of any job openings in your community and the field you are interested in. This is called networking.

Visit employment centres

Human Resource Centres and counselling centres help people with their job search. Use them. For more information about these centres, look in the White or Blue pages of your telephone book. Even if there's no job ad in the newspaper, choose companies you want to work for and visit them.

Talk to former employers

If you've had jobs before, talk to your former employers. If they don't have any openings, they might know of someone who does.

Read the job ads

Make sure you check the "Help Wanted" ads in your newspaper every single day. Lots of ads ask for experience, but don't get scared off to easily. If it's a job you think you can do, go after it. If you can convince someone that you have the skills to handle the job, he or she might decide your positive attitude is more important than your lack of experience.

Search the Internet

The Internet provides access to many different job sites, which list job openings. If you don't have access to the Internet, many libraries and some employment centres offer free access to the Internet for the public.

Keep notes

List all the people you talk to. Under comments write down anything someone said that you should remember, for example, "Told me to call the Auto Shop". All these lists may seem like a bother, but you'll find that they can really make your job search a lot easier.

5.3 Preparing for a job opening

Job application forms:

Most Employers will ask you to fill out an application form before they'll give you an interview. The way you fill out an application form can mean a lot to an employer.

Here are some tips on filling out job application forms:

  • Be neat. If your form looks sloppy and hard to read, an employer won't even bother to read it.
  • Read each question twice before answering. Always make sure you know what is being asked.
  • Print neatly.
  • Use a pen, never a pencil. If you make a mistake, cross it out neatly with a single stroke through each incorrect word. Once you've finished, read over all your answers to check your spelling and grammar. Ask someone else to read them over to check for mistakes that you may have missed.
  • Don't forget to sign the form.

Here are some words and phrases, and their definitions, that show up a lot on application forms:

Surname: What is your last name?

Permanent Address: Where do you live? Position applied for: What job are you applying for (for example, sales, clerk, shipper, etc.)?

Salary or wages expected: How much do you want to be paid if you're not sure, just print "Open".

Date Available: When can you start work? If right away, print "Immediately".

Will you relocate: Will you move to another city if asked?

Duties/Responsibilities: What did you do at your last job? (for example, assisted, assembled, etc.).

Skill: the ability to do something well

Reference: someone (usually a former employer, instructor, or school counsellor–not friends or relatives)–who will say good things about you and your abilities.

Letter of Reference: a letter from a former employer or someone you worked with that says you were good at your job, reliable, etc.

Cover letter: your chance to tell the employer why you would be good for the job; states which job you are applying for, outlines your related interests, skills, and experiences, and asks for an interview.

Résumé: a paper that says who you are and what you've done.

A question people often find hard to answer is "Why did you leave your last job?" Here are some sample reasons; pick one that applies to you:

  • Returned to school
  • Looking for more of a challenge
  • Looking for a better position
  • Job completed
  • Health reasons
  • Maternity leave
  • Relocated
  • Business closed
  • Temporary work
  • Laid off

5.4 Resume

What is a résumé?

A résumé is a short description of who you are and what you've done. It is like a personal ad for yourself. It's really an important thing to have. A lot of employers keep résumés handy so that when a job opens up, they can just go through them and pick out people to interview for the job.

There are two types of résumés:

This type of résumé is the most commonly used. It lists your work experience in reverse chronological order, which means that your most recent experience is listed first. This résumé emphasizes your work experience.


This type of résumé lists your skills in order of importance with examples of work experience given for each skill. This résumé emphasizes your skills.

Contents of a résumé:
Personal information

Put down your name, address, and telephone number. Important: Know that it is your legal right not to give personal information which might be considered discriminatory either in your résumé or in answering questions during the interview. If you are discriminated against because of your sex, age, ethnic background or religion, you can file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. You are protected against discrimination through the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Work experience (chronological résumé):

List all the jobs you have ever had (i.e. volunteer work, summer jobs, and paid full-time and part-time jobs, prison work, etc.). Indicate the date of employment, your position, name of company, duties performed and address.

Skills and Experience (functional résumé):

If you are using a functional résumé, list each of your skills with examples of work you have done and when you've used those skills.

Employment (functional résumé):

List the date of employment, position, and name of company.


List the last year you went to school and what grade you completed, the name and address of the school, and any awards you received.

Extracurricular Activities (Hobbies)

List some of the teams, clubs, and other activities in which you have taken part.

Volunteer Work:

List all the volunteer work you've done (for example, in a hospital or community centre, etc.), the name of the organization, and the type of work you did.


On a separate sheet of paper, list three people who would say good things about you if the employer phoned and asked. Do not use relatives or friends. Teachers, school counsellors, and former employers make the best references. Put down their names, jobs, places of employment, and their phone numbers. But remember, if you are going to use someone as a reference, ask that person first. On your résumé under the heading REFERENCES, indicate "Available upon request".

Keep this reference sheet separate from your résumé but do take it with you to your job interview. È If you need help writing your résumé visit an employment centre or go to your local library and ask the librairian to help you find books about writing a résumé.

Once you've done your résumé, have someone look to see if you've forgotten something or made mistakes.

5.5 Cover letter

If you hear of a job opening or read an ad in the newspaper, the best thing to do is phone for an interview right away. But some ads ask you to reply in writing. In that case, you should mail or drop off a cover letter and a copy of your résumé. The letter should say where you heard about the job, outline why you think you could do the job, and ask for an interview. Do not forget to highlight your skills that match the qualifications of the job.

Just like with your résumé and your application form, it is important that your letter be neat. Unlike, résumés, cover letters can not simply be duplicated. Each job means a new letter. Make sure the letter is typed or printed from a computer.

5.6 Interview

A job interview is your opportunity in a short period of time to show the interviewer that you are the right (qualified) person for the job. It is also your opportunity to see if the job environment is right for you.

Before you go to an interview, find out a little about the job you are applying for. An employment counsellor, or someone you know who does the type of job you are applying for, should be able to help.

Interview Dos
  • Do introduce yourself.
  • Do be ready to shake hands. Do it firmly.
  • Do be well groomed, neat and clean.
  • Do dress more formally than you would normally dress for the job.
  • Do listen closely to the interviewer.
  • Do answer all questions carefully and honestly.
  • Do arrange to call back in a few days.
Interview Don'ts
  • Don't take a friend or relative.
  • Don't smoke or chew gum.
  • Don't act either too shy or too aggressive.
  • Don't say anything negative about other people.
  • Don't be late. If you are going to be late, or can not make it to the interview, call the employer as soon as possible and explain why. Ask if you can arrange a new interview time.
Interview Checklist
  • Take two pens (ones that work!).
  • Any papers or documents you might need, such as your social insurance card, driver's license, or school reports.
  • Two copies of your résumé - one for the interviewer and one for yourself.
  • A list of your references.

5.7 Things you need to do to keep the job

Now that you have a job it is important that you try to do your best in order to keep the job. Here are a few tips:

Be There

Do not miss work unless you have a legitimate reason. If you do, phone before your shift starts to let your boss know that you can not come in.

Be Ready To Start On Time

Not only do you need to be at work on time, you need to be ready to start working on time. So you need to get there at least a few minutes early.

Leave When You are Supposed To

Even if work may not be busy, never assume that it is okay to leave early. You are paid to be there for our full shift.

Dress Properly

It is a good idea to ask what to wear for work once you have been given the job.

Give 100 Per Cent

Get enough sleep so you're not dragging yourself through the workday. Your lack of energy or attention to the job is more obvious to your employer than you think.

Ask Questions

Make sure you understand what your employer wants you to do. There are a lot of things to learn when you are new at a job, so do not be afraid to ask questions. It shows that you are interested and take the work seriously.

Be A Good Team Player

An employee is really part of a team. Learn to get along with people. If you have trouble getting along with a coworker or your boss, try to look at things from his or her point of view.

Keep Learning

Read! Read books, magazines, and other periodicals to learn as much as you can about the subject you are interested in. Go to seminars. Take courses.

Quit A Job Properly

No matter why you decide to quit, give your employer at least two weeks' notice. Finish as much of your work as you can and tell co-workers about anything that's left to be done. Before you leave, ask your employer for a letter of reference even if you already have another job. Past employers are among the most important references you can have.

5.8 If you do not get the job…

Looking for work is not easy. It is a full-time job and probably the hardest you will ever have. But stick with it. You may not be offered a job right away. It might take 2 or 3 interviews. It might take 20 or 30. But if you keep trying, it is going to pay off. Take the time to really think about what you want to do; it will pay off. Make sure you have all the things you will need for your job search (i.e. a social insurance card, a sample cover letter, and a résumé). Make lists of all the places you go to and all the people you see, and keep your lists up to date.

Lesson 6 How to Become Your Own Boss

What is a "Small Business"?; How to Start Your Own Business; Creating a Business Plan; Business Structures...

Small businesses make up more than 90% of all canadian companies. Although they tend to be concentrated in the retail sector, they are present in all sectors of our economy. Any businesses with fewer than 20 employees have become the major source of job creation in canada, employing over half of canada's labour force. For all these reasons, small business is a vital component of our economy.

6.1 What is a "small business"?

A small business typically has a low sales volume and a small staff. Nearly 75% of small businesses have less than $250,000 annually in sales, and nearly 90% of them have fewer than 20 employees. Most small businesses do not have large assets, and serve the local or regional market.

Another typical feature of a small business is that it is managed by its owner, who makes all the decisions and is solely responsible for the success or failure of the venture.

The importance of sound management

Statistics tell us that mismanagement is to blame for nearly 96% of all bankruptcies in Canada. If you know the most frequent causes of business failure, you might avoid some of the traps.

These causes are:

  • Lack of management and executive experience
  • Lack of experience in the economic sector the entrepreneur does business in
  • Lack of business experience generally
  • Negligence, fraud and unforeseen circumstances are other, although lesser factors.
Managing means planning

Planning is the key to sound management. A study of new businesses found that barely 38% of them were still in business three years later. The owners of the surviving businesses had spent anywhere from six to ten months planning their start-up, whereas the owners of the firms that went bankrupt spent four months or even fewer in planning. Most of the successful entrepreneurs consulted management professionals and kept abreast of management practices by reading specialized newspapers and publications.

The time and effort you devote to planning your new business may be the key to whether it survives.

6.2 How to start your own business

Starting a business from scratch

For many entrepreneurs, starting from scratch is the only option. Household resources–space, energy, time, materials– can be used to help get the business established. This is particularly important when capital/money is not available.

Starting from scratch requires more effort, time and special skills than buying an existing business, plus it involves more risks. It can take time for a new business to get known to customers. The start-up and early years can be periods of losses or low income. Few new entrepreneurs are prepared for the stamina it takes to establish a new business. However, the rewards for those who overcome the barriers and stick with it can be great.


  • You decide what to sell.
  • You decide how to sell it.
  • You decide where to set up shop.
  • You can choose your own interior and exterior decorating style.
  • You set the prices.
  • You decide what kind of advertising and promotion you want.
  • You decide how much capital to invest, depending on the size and nature of the business.
  • You get the satisfaction of starting your business and growing with it.


  • Greatest risk.
  • Requires significant personal and business planning.
  • The start-up period is long.
  • It can be difficult to attract clients.
  • Revenues can be irregular.
  • You might have to do everything on your own, due to your limited financial resources.

6.3 Creating a business plan

Do you need a business plan?

Yes, you do. One major cause of the 80% failure rate of new small businesses is poor planning. Planning has many functions in business. A business plan:

  • Forces you to think through your business idea.
  • Helps you judge and evaluate a business idea so there is less risk.
  • Shows where you need help or information.
  • Organizes and presents information about your business so you can progress logically and not get off track.
  • Increases your self-confidence.
  • Lessens the risk of oversights and errors.
  • Organizes ideas so you can communicate them to others.
  • Increases chances of business success once established.
  • Reminds you of good ideas and ways to save time or money.
  • Helps you to obtain necessary financing.

A business plan is a system for organizing information about the many aspects of a business. The business plan can be seperated into a four-part framework.

1. Framework for a business plan


This section of the business plan gives you administrative information about the business profile, legal form and proprietorship, and a generic description of your basic product or service.

Administrative information

This section should include the identifying information necessary to call, write or visit the business.

  • Firm name
  • Address
  • Mailing address (if different from above)
  • Postal code
  • Telephone number
  • Fax number (if there is one)

Proprietorship information

This section should include the following:

  • Name of the business
  • Business form or structure (Sole proprietorship or partnership)
  • Date of registration or incorporation
  • Name of partners (if relevant)
  • Names of limited partners and limits of their liability
  • Names of shareholders and percentage of shares they hold (for corporations)

The industry

The industrial sector you will be doing business in and the main product line and services you will be selling (e.g. men's apparel retail store, fiberglass boat manufacturing plant) should be indicated.

2. Marketing


This section of the business plan states sales forecasts and summarizes data to support them. The marketing section is usually the main section in a business plan since it is the basis for all the other sections.

Industry overview

This section should include:

  • A description of the fundamental changes in the industry.
  • Growth potential for this kind of product or service.

The market

This section should include:

  • A description of your target clientele.
  • An outline of the needs and consumer habits of your target clientele.
  • The target clientele's expectations in terms of pricing, quality and service.
  • An assessment of the size of the target market and your expected market share.


  • An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your major competitors.
  • Outline of your competitive advantages.
  • Assessment of competitive barriers you have to overcome, and how you plan to do it.

Marketing plan

This part of the marketing section outlines the strategy you will use to corner and then keep a share of the market. Your marketing plan has to persuade the reader that:

  • There is a need in the market for your product or service you have a marketing strategy that will let you satisfy this need
  • You can make a profit on the sale of your product or service.

Your marketing plan should briefly discuss the four main factors of product, distribution/location, pricing and communications.


Here, you should briefly describe the product or service you intend to sell to your target clients, and your competitive edge.


This part should describe the distribution system you will use or where you will locate your business to attract customers.


This part should describe your pricing strategy to penetrate the market, keep or increase your market share, and make a profit.


This part should describe the advertising, promotional and merchandising techniques you will use and the expenses associated with attracting your target market.

3. Operations


This section of the business plan summarizes the information that will support your ability to produce or supply the product or service, on the basis of the output and quality indicators in your marketing plan.


This part describes how your business will be well located to take advantage of the proximity of raw materials, transportation, parking and a skilled workforce.

Premises and facilities

This part should describe the size and nature of your current and/ or planned premises and facilities.

Production process or service offered

This part should describe the production process or service and any competitive edge it will give you, the availability of raw materials and supply sources, and the quality control procedures you will implement.


This part should describe the workforce (skills requirements and availability), special training, collective agreements and labour costs.



This section of the business plan gives information about the abilities and reliability of its executives.

Executives, directors and managers

This part should include the following information:

  • Names of key managers
  • Education and experience of managerial staff
  • Main duties and responsibilities of management
  • Action to offset your company's main management weaknesses
  • Name of other businesses owned by directors

Statements of the personal net worth of the proprietors and the financial statements of their other businesses should be included as an Appendix.

4. Financial summary


This section of the business plan reassures the readers that the investor or lender is not taking an unreasonable risk, considering the anticipated return on investment and the level of risk. Financing needs/projected financing.

Here, you should list the various costs related to the start-up or expansion of the business as well as the sources of investment capital and/or funds borrowed.

Previous financial statements

This part applies to previously-existing businesses. It should summarize the business's past performance. The summary should include sales, the cost of the products sold, gross margins, total underpreciated cost and net profit or loss.

A copy of the latest financial statement should be included as an Appendix.

Current financial status

This part should include the following information about any current debts:

  • Name of lender
  • Amount of capital
  • Amount of current debt
  • Due date (where applicable)
  • Interest rate
  • Monthly payments
  • Collateral

Existing businesses should include a copy of their current statement as an Appendix.

Operational forecasts

This part should include an estimate of business volume and expenses and a profit estimate for the next twelve months.

Sources of information and assumptions used for numerical calculations should be documented and included in the operational forecasts.

Cash forecasts

This part should include monthly cash in/out forecasts for a twelve-month period.

Cash forecasts let you anticipate shortfall and surplus (how much and when).

Pro forma balance sheet/opening balance sheet.

This part should include a copy of a pro forma balance sheet (for an existing business) or an opening balance sheet (for a new business).

In the case of an existing business, a pro forma balance sheet is the current balance, amended to take into account the addition of new financing/investment and increases in assets and liabilities. In the case of a new business, an opening balance indicates assets, liabilities and equity capital when the program and financing are in place.



This section of the business plan includes copies of detailed documents referred to earlier in the report.


The Appendices could include:

  • Corporate registration/memorandum of association
  • Consumer surveys
  • Photos and drawings of products, services, premises, etc.
  • Maps
  • Plant layout plans
  • Survey plans
  • Estimate of premises and facilities
  • Agreements of purchase and sale
  • Patents
  • Statements of net worth
  • Organization charts
  • Building estimates
  • Equipment list
  • Contracts
  • Character references
  • Financial statements
  • Object of business

Presentation tips for your business plan

You can make your business plan more effective by paying attention to the text and presentation. The following tips should help:

  • Make sure the plan is neatly typed and presented.
  • Attentively proofread for spelling and mathematical errors.
  • Ask a reliable advisor to reread your plan objectively before you send it out. Does your plan show evidence of:
    • realistic forecast of market share?
    • reasonable marketing strategy?
    • well planned operation?
    • competent leadership?
    • identification of all costs?
    • sufficient financing for start-up and running of the business?
    • realistic forecasts and break-even point?
    • full financial commitment to the business by owner(s)?
  • Control distribution if your business plan contains any confidential information.
  • Carefully examine the presentation, and be ready to answer any questions.
  • Make sure you understand the contents of your plan fully, even if you did not write the entire report yourself.

Be realistic about preparing your plan. Include any negative aspects and estimate their impact on your business.

6.4 Business structures

Every new business person should be able to answer the following essential question: "what business structure is best for me?"

If you want to go into business, you might think it does not matter how the business will be organised or structured. And yet, it could make a big difference:

  • The right structure can help you reduce costs and maximize profits.
  • Investors or partners may only be interested in certain structures. Banks and other sources of money may be more willing to lend to certain business structures than others.
  • A business structure affects how your business can grow. Taxation and tax planning are different in different business structures.

Two main types of business structures recognised in Canadian law are sole proprietorship and partnership.

Sole proprietorship

A proprietorship is a common form for a new business. A sole proprietorship is a business that is owned and operated by one person. Most self-employed people operate as a proprietorship. The sole proprietor is personally liable for commercial contracts and for damage done by his employees. A proprietorship can operate under a person's name without filing a name declaration with the registrar of companies, but if any change is made in the name, such as adding "and son" or "and associates", the new name must be registered with the registrar of companies. The name must not already be in use by another company, nor may it be so close to the name of another company as to cause confusion.


  • Easy and inexpensive to set up.
  • Directly controlled by the owner/operator.
  • Flexible, with little regulation.
  • Business losses can be deducted from other income.
  • Wages paid to a partner are deductible from the income of the business.
  • Silent investors are acceptable, by written agreement, instead of issuing a share or stock certificate, which is how an incorporated business raises money).
  • Unlimited personal liability (which means all personal and business assets of an owner can be taken to fulfil business obligations).
  • No opportunity for continuity: the sole proprietorship dies when the sole proprietor goes out of business or dies.
  • Limited management base.
  • Difficult to raise capital.
  • Difficult to sell the business.

A partnership is also easy to set up. By carrying on business with a view to profit, you and your partners create a partnership, even if you don't sign any agreements or contracts. Formal or informal, a partnership is a legally binding business relationship in which each partner takes responsibility and becomes liable for the actions of the other partners. This includes actions that may be taken without a partner's knowledge. This risk is part of the business structure.

A partnership must legally register its name and give information about the partners, so the public has a way of finding out who it is dealing with. Selecting, checking and filing the business name of a partnership require the same steps as for a sole proprietorship.

  • ase of formation.
  • Low start-up costs.
  • Additional sources of venture capital.
  • Broader management base.
  • Possible tax advantage.
  • Limited outside regulation.
  • Unlimited liability.
  • Lack of continuity.
  • Divided authority.
  • Difficulty in raising additional capital.
  • Hard to find suitable partners.
6.5 Operation: How will you run your business?

"Operating a business" describes the many aspects of running a business and is summarised in the "operations" section of the business plan.


Zoning bylaws outline what is legal within a city or municipality or regional district. Three main categories of zones are residential, commercial and industrial. Zoning bylaws restrict what can happen in each zone with such things as type of activity, size of building, how close a building can be to the street, parking, the number of employees, amount of traffic and size and type of outdoor sign.

Do your research on zoning early. Sometimes mixed use is possible. For example, a home occupation that meets certain conditions may be permitted in a residential area. Without zoning permission, a home-based entrepreneur simply cannot operate, although many do operate illegally but risk being closed down at any time.

Most municipalities recognise the benefits of home-based businesses. Home-based businesses are incubators, a way to keep risk and overhead low as a business gets established. Ripple and spin-off effects on the wider community and economy are positive. Home-based businesses are increasingly recognised. Home-based business experts stress early research into zoning, bylaws and regulations as part of assessing your situation. Full consideration of business opportunities involves learning about regulations and requirements.

Regulations and requirements to consider

Regulations and laws that affect home-based businesses exist at three levels of government: federal (Government of Canada), provincial (government of your province) and local or municipal. Federal and provincial governments regulate similar kinds of things. Your research will help you discover the separate responsibilities of each level of government in relation to your business.

Federal and provincial governments

Federal and provincial laws cover general duties in business, such as practising business fairly, and specific consumer protections on advertising, packaging and labelling. Both levels of government levy personal and business taxes. The federal government charges customs duties and administers the Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plans. All these may affect you, and may influence your decision to establish the business you have in mind.

Municipal government

Municipal bylaws cover zoning, where different types of businesses may operate, and any local operating requirements. The zoning for your neighbourhood or area spells out what is and is not allowed as a business activity.

Licenses and permits

Conducting a business requires various standard licenses and permits, as well as special ones for some businesses. Trade and professional associations and licensing boards are good sources of licensing and permit information specific to a sector. Municipal planning or economic development offices will give information on local licensing requirements and restrictions.

6.6 Things to think about before you start your business

Personal and family considerations are important to the success of most businesses, especially so for home-based businesses. The following reasons may eventually influence you, or your business.

Why start a home-based business?

Success is directly linked to being clear about what is motivating you. Why do you want to start/run a home-based business? You may be motivated by a desire to:

  • Be your own boss
  • Make money
  • Spend time with or be in the same place as your family
  • Have time for other interests
  • Expand a hobby or an interest.

People usually have more than one reason for wanting a homebased business. What things about a future as a home-based business person appeal to you most?

Personal qualities and traits

In business, as in many other spheres, success depends on self-confidence, self-assurance and self-esteem. Self-confidence and self-esteem can be strengthened and developed. Most people gain confidence as they do something successfully a number of times. Consider investing some time to build your confidence and self-esteem, as part of your preparation for business. Some possible ways are training yourself to concentrate on positives and your successes, taking courses in confidence-building that are offered by your community college or board of education, and joining a group such as a speakers, professional or business club. See the self-help section of your local library.

Unfortunately, the character traits that make entrepreneurs successful, such as determination and willingness to work long hours, can also turn into traps. There are extremes for each trait. Having too much of a particular trait can be as much of a problem as not having enough.

Personal resources

Successful business people depend on other people, and they draw on other people as resources. Learning to see people and things as resources may require a shift in your perspective. One way to assess your situation is to consider the personal resources you already have. These include everything from your own skills and energy to friends for possible help with financing. Create an inventory of all the resources currently available to you that you believe gives you an advantage to succeed: energy, enthusiasm, time, training, sales experience, personal contacts, support from friends, savings, investments, your partner's income, your salary from the job you may decide to keep during start-up.

This personal inventory can be used in your business research and planning. Parts of the inventory can be transferred into your business plan and reference manual.

Business and home life

Many home-based businesses fail because family members have different ideas about what is important and about the effects the business will have on the family. Discuss these with the people who will be affected or who are involved. A business can absorb all your time and energy. There is a risk that as you devote so much to your business, other parts of your life will be ignored. You may become a workaholic. If managed, that same energy can help make a business succeed. Ignored, workaholism, like other addictions, isolates people from family and friends and causes stress. In serious cases, this can lead to family breakdown and business failure.

6.7 Sources of Business Services
Business Services

There is a wide range of organizations such a business clubs, chambers of commerce and boards of trade, as well as universities, colleges and business schools, that offer inexpensive programs for business people. Contact your local City Hall for a listing of local business organizations.

Canada has numerous qualified professionals who can assist small business owners–for example, consultants, accountants and lawyers–many of them are listed in the Yellow Pages telephone directory.

Self-Help Books

Self-help books on a great variety of useful business subjects are available through libraries and bookstores.

6.8 Business interests and opportunities
Turn your interests into business opportunities

Prospective entrepreneurs often make the mistake of narrowing their choices too quickly, starting the first business that comes to mind. Using the following guide, try to expand your choices and come up with ideas for businesses that you would actually enjoy running. The object is to discover those business opportunities that should be not only profitable but personally rewarding.

Guide for turning your interests into income

1. Write down all your interests, hobbies, leisure activities, and previous work or volunteer experiences that you have enjoyed. (For example, travelling, collecting miniature furniture, cooking, shopping, fishing, working with computers, and meeting people).

2. The next step is to convert your interest into income opportunities. (For example, if you like to ski and travel, you might want to organise ski charters; or, if you are interested in photography and enjoy meeting people, perhaps a videotaping service would be right for you).

3. Now, narrow the list down to the three or four businesses that appeal to you the most.

6.9 Test your business skills
Inventory of skills

As a future business owner and manager, you should possess basic business skills. Use this checklist to test your management skills. Be honest about your abilities. Then, use your "no" and "unsure" answers to identify a program of studies to increase your skills and knowledge, and follow through with it.

Running a business Yes No Unsure
A. Purchasing ____ ____ _____________
B. Inventory control ____ ____ _____________
C. Scheduling ____ ____ _____________
D. Quality control ____ ____ _____________
E. Growth management ____ ____ _____________
F. Insurance ____ ____ _____________
Total ____ ____ _____________
Administration/ management Yes No Unsure
A. Problem solving ____ ____ _____________
B. Decision making ____ ____ _____________
C. Leadership ____ ____ _____________
D. Using information ____ ____ _____________
E. Business law ____ ____ _____________
F. Methodological operations research ____ ____ _____________
G. Desktop publishing ____ ____ _____________
H. Electronic publishing ____ ____ _____________
Total ____ ____ _____________
Financial management Yes No Unsure
A. Bookkeeping, accounting ____ ____ _____________
B. Budgeting, variance analysis ____ ____ _____________
C. Cost control ____ ____ _____________
D. Credit and recover ____ ____ _____________
E. Banking ____ ____ _____________
F. Break-even analysis ____ ____ _____________
G. Cash flow/management ____ ____ _____________
H. Ratio analysis ____ ____ _____________
I. Tax ____ ____ _____________
Total ____ ____ _____________
Sales and marketing Yes No Unsure
A. Market research ____ ____ _____________
B. Market planning ____ ____ _____________
C. Pricing ____ ____ _____________
D. Advertising/public relations ____ ____ _____________
E. Sales management ____ ____ _____________
F. Customer service ____ ____ _____________
G. Personal selling ____ ____ _____________
H. Competition analysis ____ ____ _____________
Total ____ ____ _____________
Personnel Yes No Unsure
A. Interviewing and recruiting ____ ____ _____________
B. Training ____ ____ _____________
C. Motivation ____ ____ _____________
D. Policy ____ ____ _____________
E. Communications ____ ____ _____________
Total ____ ____ _____________
6.10 Some Business Ideas
  • Animal boarding, care
  • Answering service
  • Art gallery and sales, in-home
  • Audio and visuals production services
  • Baby items
  • Baking, especially speciality products (non-wheat, additive free, low salt)
  • Bed and breakfast
  • Beekeeping, honey production
  • Child care, elderly care, special needs support
  • Car services, specialised
  • Catering, food or sector speciality (gourmet, or film industry)
  • Children and speculate entertainment, eg. clowns, magicians
  • Cleaning, house and commercial/institutional
  • Consultant, wide range of services and subjects
  • Convention and conference planning, logistics and support
  • Cooking services, speciality or targeted
  • Design and layout, creative services in producing documents and audio-visuals
  • Distributing
  • Door-to-door selling
  • Energy services (energy loss detection, energy efficient planning and renovation)
  • Event and party planning
  • Farming, specialty, including organic, herb, special product (holly)
  • Fashions, specialty (e.g. maternity, children's clothing)
  • Food Products, particularly those tied to trends, e.g. natural food, non-beef items, low fat, concern with food purity and quality
  • Footwear
  • Fundraising
  • Furniture polish, wax, stain
  • Furniture repair, small-scale manufacture
  • Gardening, yard and lawn maintenance, landscaping
  • Gift basket service
  • Glass blowing and design, retail and industrial/commercial
  • Guided Tours and sightseeing
  • Hobby, Craft, and Art Supplies
  • Home renovations and maintenance
  • Image consulting (wardrobe, communication, and executive seminars or professionals)
  • Importing
  • Information service, consulting or information brokering
  • Interior design, commercial or residential
  • Jeweler, original designs and work, repair
  • Lawn and garden care
  • Leisure activities, including instruction
  • Mail order services
  • Maternity fashions and specialty products
  • Media productions and services
  • Microcomputer Services: Convert files from one machine format to another; design, create, do layout, publish; manage other people's data; provide mail order services; publish price lists, catalogues, listings, newsletters; rent equipment or time on a computer system; write or print résumés, prospectuses, proposal, reports; sell data; teach, about computing or using available software programs teach other skills and subjects; troubleshoot, problem solve; write programs
  • Novelty items (T-shirts, mugs) targeted to certain market, eg. new parents or grandparents
  • Office planning, office systems design, installation
  • Packaging, retail and "breaking bulk", sorting large quantities into smaller ones and repackaging them for sale
  • Personal services, house-sitting, errands
  • Personal Shopping
  • Photo Postcards, Picture Postcards
  • Photography and photographic services
  • Polishes and cleaning products
  • Placement and assistance (temporary help) services
  • Pool cleaning
  • Pottery, particularly specialty styles and products
  • Printshop, various services related to copying, printing, document production
  • Professions that do not require special facilities, eg. accountant, lawyer, public relations and management consultants
  • Publishing and publishing services (editing)
  • Rebuilding or remanufacturing
  • Recreation
  • Research
  • Résumés
  • Seminars and courses, workshops
  • Sewing and tailoring
  • Shoe repair
  • Sports equipment
  • Telephone soliciting service
  • Training and training materials
  • Tutoring and instruction
  • Videotaping
  • Wordprocessing
  • Writing

Lesson 7 Preparing To Return to the Home Country

Immigration and Status; Problems and Issues: Young Offenders; Adult Offenders; Lesson Objectives; The Debate: Exclude or Include?; The Logic of Reintegration...

1. Immigration and status

Every person in Canada has a status, whether as an Aboriginal, a citizen, a permanent resident (or landed immigrant), refugee, student or visitor. Every status has corresponding rights protected by specific charters and acts. The rights and freedoms within this framework of democratic life enjoy extended rights of process. The rights of minorities are protected against all discriminatory practices and against all forms of social exclusion.

However, for reasons of national security, the law sets certain limits applicable to non-citizens concerning "serious criminality" and organized criminality. Permanent residents or foreign nationals who are inadmissible or have no right of appeal must be "handed over to the immigration authorities for purposes of removal" when released from the penitentiary.

2. Problems and issues: Young Offenders

The problem of deporting foreign offenders from Canada to their country of origin is not new. To our knowledge, it was first raised during an academic debate in Montreal in 1997 organized by the Association des avocats et avocates noirs du Québec1.

Some serious concerns dominated the debate2:

Why deport a young person who has lived and grown up here among us, who was educated and socialized in the Quebec environment?

1 Giroux, André. Pourquoi expulser du pays un jeune élevé ici? LE JOURNAL DU BARREAU. vol. 30 . no.1-15 jan. 1998 .
2 Douyon, Emerson. Les impacts psycho-sociaux de l'expulsion vus sous l'angle de la psychologie criminelle. ETHNICITÉ ET JUSTICE .Congrès annuel de l'Association des avocats et avocates noirs du Québec. Montréal. nov.1997.

Why did this "landed immigrant," a long time resident of Canada, put up with living with a temporary status that, over time, will turn into a sword hanging over his head if he gets involved in crime? Why did his parents neglect to claim Canadian citizenship for their children, as a preventive measure, like a beacon, in case they possibly drifted into some form of crime, which is always difficult to predict?

In the United States, landed immigrants or permanent residents who have a green card are constantly under direct or indirect pressure to seek the safer status of American citizenship. Could not Canada follow this model, one that helps to strengthen national identity and a sense of civic responsibility toward the host country?

Why send a person back to his country of origin with no resources for his immediate survival, long cut off from any support network in his homeland, left to his own devices with no safety net, in a high-risk environment?

These questions remain unanswered and are all the more relevant today in light of recent legislative changes concerning the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the amendments to the Immigration and Protection Act.

Through a series of unexpected circumstances, the issue of deporting foreign offenders is once again in the news at a more political level. On the very principle of this deportation, it has been argued in very relevant terms that it is absurd to continue deporting young immigrants who have become offenders on the ground of preventing adult crime.

These young people must not be treated differently than others simply because they are non-citizens. They have the same right to rehabilitation, especially since many arrived here when they were still very young children and they do not know any country other than Canada. Deportation to their place of birth seems to be an extreme measure that does not help either these young people from underprivileged backgrounds, their families or humanity3.

3 Larocque, Sylvain. Le Bloc veut qu'Ottawa cesse d'expulser du pays des immigrants criminels. LE DEVOIR. lundi 25 oct. 2004. Montréal.

3. Adult Offenders

The problem we are facing today falls within a different yet related context. It involves adults of foreign origin who are residents of Canada, but not Canadian citizens, engaged in a criminal career that began here and developed locally.

They are not refugees, persons without papers or persons of no fixed address enticed by some form of sub-culture or deviance. Neither are they people who were already criminals in their country of origin and whose criminal career found a breeding ground in Canada conducive to developing their criminal behaviour.

Our comments concern a significant portion of the prison population who are subject to a removal order after serving a long sentence in a federal penitentiary.

This particular problem was brought home for us during a round of penitentiary visits more than four years ago by the Regional Ethnocultural Advisory Committee and by the National Ethnocultural Committee respectively of correctional facilities in Quebec and the rest of Canada.

In the course of our contact and discussions with inmates, the issue of offenders threatened with deportation after incarceration was a recurrent theme. The issue was raised on site by inmates of ethnocultural origin and sometimes by other inmates, members of the majority, sympathetic to their cause. Hence the idea of placing this recurrent problem, likely of interest to the Correctional Service, the National Parole Board, the respective departments of Canadian Heritage and Immigration and Citizenship, the ethnocultural communities and the consular services of foreign countries, centre stage.

4. Lesson Objectives

Our objectives are threefold:

A. First, to ask you to reflect on the situation facing foreignborn inmates who are not Canadian citizens and who are subject to a removal order to their country of origin at the end of their incarceration.

B. Next, to consider the concerns and needs of this significant category of inmates from ethnocultural communities.

C. Finally, to try to find new courses of action for the possible creation of a consistent and integrated correctional program for preparing inmates for deportation or reintegration process.

5. The debate: Exclude or include?

What are the terms of the debate? From our personal perspective, there are two opposing mindsets: that of exclusion to a foreign country and that of reintegration in Canada.

Advocates of exclusion advance the following argument:

  • These offenders would bring shame on their community of origin, which would not support a cause it cannot identify with. Such persons would have breached the implicit and symbolic contract that immigrants undertake to uphold the laws of the host country.
  • By opting for a criminal lifestyle, members of a minority cultural group again become foreigners in the eyes of the majority. It is as if their nature has changed and the distance between them and others has widened. This criminalized immigrant would be looked on as a foreign body that had to be extracted and removed for fear of the danger of social contamination.

In our opinion, these rationalizations serve more as moral support for deportation orders than as an explanatory objective model.

6. The logic of reintegration

In contrast, those who argue the logic of reintegration would point out that offenders identified as foreigners in Canada are in reality a local product. They are a product of the Canadian environment. If they have learned to become a criminal, they can also unlearn it, according to the behavioural theory on which the correctional programs are based. If foreign offenders have changed or can change, why deport them?

Moreover, the fact that this offender belongs to another ethnic group and another culture is irrelevant to the deportation case. These are factors extraneous to his criminality. They were not an issue before incarceration, so why should they be considered afterward?

In our opinion, revisiting ethnicity and culture at the end of a prison sentence is to reduce the individual to where he comes from and treat him differently. This confinement strategy could allow us to drift towards a discriminatory logic that conflicts with the provisions of the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms. Will such an approach stand up in court one day? We do not know the answer for now. Yet the mere fact that inmates are subjected to a two-track confinement system may create the problem of a two-speed legal and correctional system.

7. Foreign origin, criminality, legal system, prison sentence

In Europe, many studies have focused on the concepts of foreigners and security. These issues are at the centre of the debate on the prosecution, incarceration and deportation of offenders. In these studies, criminologists complain about the influence of foreignness and the fact of being a stranger on the legal and correctional experience of minority groups. According to Gilles Klein4, who has partially summarized these studies, the following findings can be listed for France, for example:

4 Klein, Gilles. L'enfermement des étrangers : Étrangers incarcérés, étrangers délinquants? Gisti. 20 fév.2002. Les Verts Paris.

  • Foreigners are over-represented for certain categories of offences, such as narcotics trafficking and violent robbery.
  • They are easier to spot and, consequently, more often turned in.
  • They appear more often at an immediate hearing or before the court for flagrant offences.
  • They are systematically placed in police custody or remand custody more often.
  • They receive fewer stayed sentences and are given longer sentences of confinement without parole.
  • Their court appearance is more risky because they have fewer guarantees of representation.
  • The poor economic and legal situation of certain populations increases their rate of confinement.
  • Foreign inmates are much less likely than the rest of the inmate population to obtain sentence conditions or reductions, such as work releases, day parole or full parole.

As we can see, in this relationship between foreignness, prosecution, incarceration and the penitentiary system, all of the factors combine to create an unfavourable climate for the foreign offender at all of the stages of different judicial proceedings and prison sentences. Taking them back to the border is the latest addition in the case of non-citizens.

8. Consideration of the security setting

Due to the lack of a sufficient comparable database, we are unable to show whether Canada5 is moving in the same or in a different legal and correctional current. But the convergence of certain regional observations has generated some concern among researchers. Meanwhile, given the growing focus on general security in Canada, it seems appropriate to focus more attention on the fate reserved for our deportable inmates after incarceration.

5 Gourd, Michel. Au nom de la lutte contre le terrorisme : Quand l'arbitraire policier s'impose au Canada. p.12-13. LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE. Fév.2005. N0. 611. Paris

Among the host of recent legislative changes concerning immigration and security, the manoeuvring room for these persons to avoid deportation seems increasingly restricted and is in danger of disappearing, according to a Quebec jurist.

We may also ask ourselves what message we are sending to foreign countries. Is Canada disposing of the problem like a "hot potato"? Is it exporting some of its local criminality? Is it using the country of origin as an outlet to regulate its own level of criminality? Is Canada in danger of fuelling criminal rings elsewhere?

Familiar examples, like the deportation of a Haitian offender to Haiti, are textbook cases. For Canada, the deported person is a Haitian. For Haiti, the person landing in the country is a dangerous Canadian. If the inmate is deported, he is presumed to pose a risk to the host community. Why would it be any different in the country of origin? This is an ambiguity that will have to be addressed one day.

9. The inmates' point of view:perspective-taking

Besides these semantic questions, how do inmates threatened with deportation react when faced with this prospect of removal? Because they are not here to answer, we would like to give them a voice by referring to what they tell us our visits to the prison institutions.

Foreign inmates, in particular, view the entire situation as a case of injustice. First penalized for what they did (their criminal behaviour), then for what they are (non-citizens), they now risk incarceration again in their country of origin because they are presumed dangerous and stir up fear. This triple penalty would be the best incentive for anyone to turn to the criminal underworld.

Who is responsible for the situation that these inmates confront? No one in particular. However, we know that the process leading to the deportation of offenders of foreign origin is under shared jurisdiction. While Immigration manages the final act, the Correctional Service is responsible for the psychological and educational preparation of inmates for deportation.

The Correctional Service cannot confine itself to the simple role of sentence management. Though it cannot interfere in the decisionmaking process prior to deportation, neither can it claim that the penitentiary is merely a secure holding facility awaiting the inmate's handover.

It is common knowledge that the Correctional Service plays an educational role with regard to all inmates. Aside from services, it also administers programs to encourage the change or modification of criminal behaviour.

We must ensure that this educational process functions effectively from the start to the end of incarceration. In order to prevent failure or recidivism and guarantee reintegration, they agree with us that the end of this process must not compromise the ultimate goals of correctional programs. Work must focus not only on the potential for change, but also on the factors that facilitate and sustain change.

10. A shared process: Testimony and feedback

Foreign-born offenders view these programs as inadequate. Some go so far as to complain of a policy of alienation that could damage their cultural identity. We still remember a small motley group of women offenders of Asian origin subject to a deportation order at the end of their incarceration. We met them at a penitentiary in Western Canada. They told us about their experience with correctional programs.

The Japanese representative of the group admitted to her frequent embarrassment when penitentiary staff confused the Japanese and Chinese women, saying, They're all the same! She told us that in Japan, women are not in the habit of complaining or expressing emotions in public or talking about personal problems with a group. For her, talking and communicating with others implies trusting the other members of the group. Such private matters are not shared with just anyone.

However, in the penitentiary, it was frowned upon to not participate in discussions. This person felt forced to talk to the group and tell the others what she was feeling. It was as if they wanted to pull her out of her culture of origin and make her function according to the model of the prevailing culture, i.e., Western culture. However, she began to gradually get used to it, but was still defensive.

Because she was soon to be deported from Canada, she had begun to ask herself questions about her permanent return to Japan. When her parents came to visit her, they felt she had changed. They perceived her as having become aggressive. They warned her: if she continued to talk and act like that, she would not be well accepted in Japanese society where women are supposed to be passive and conformist. In other words, this inmate was in the process of becoming functional for Canada, but was in danger of becoming dysfunctional once returned to her country of origin.

11. Community assistance and reintegration plan

In view of such findings, there are grounds for the Correctional Service to give more consideration to ethnocultural issues and the problem of deporting foreign offenders. New options should be explored in terms of the objectives, content and teaching of its programs. To fuel the debate, we ask you to reflect on the following questions:

1. Why wait until the end of incarceration to inform the inmate of an imminent deportation and risk causing him unbearable anxiety and extreme psychological reactions?

Deportation requires long-term preparation, appropriate logistics.

2. Why not proceed in stages by identifying anyone likely to be deported from the start of his or her sentence? This would help prevent the dual shock of deportation from Canada and return to one's country of birth more effectively.

3. Considering the actual economic, social and psychological costs involved, why systematically keep in penitentiary offenders who are to be deported after a very long period of incarceration?

4. Is there room for alternative strategies? Shared sentence management and programs in the country of birth in cooperation with penitentiary institutions in the foreign countries?

5. Why not have offenders follow correctional programs preferably in their country of origin if the ultimate goal of these programs is reintegration in the place where the foreign offender will be asked to live and settle? This would make the programs more useful and culturally adapted to the specific needs of this inmate population.

Finally, we must acknowledge that the penitentiary clientele is not a homogeneous cohort. These inmates do not have the same background, the same path or the same destination. Why "program" them in a practically standard fashion when their heterogeneity demands a more diversified and personalized approach based on their origin?

For offenders who are able to remain in Canada, a series of programs suited to the local lifestyle of the respective groups should be available. For those who to be deported after exhausting their recourse under the current Immigration and Protection Act, a personalized community plan based on their needs should be established. Such a plan should provide for less traumatic deportation conditions that are more mindful of the dignity and survival of the deportees. It should necessarily involve some follow-up for the protection of the parties concerned. Each candidate for deportation should be taken in hand by a community organization for his reception, orientation and reintegration in his new country.

Whether we are talking about a path that leads to remaining in the country or an alternate path aimed at deportation to another country, it is still our duty to guarantee everyone, citizens and non-citizens alike, equal opportunity to rehabilitate within society.


To meet the specific needs of an increasingly diverse prison population, in 2001 the Correctional Service of Canada established a dual national/regional structure in accordance with Commissioner's Directive 767 on ethnocultural offender Programs. It is a National Advisory Board on Ethnocultural Minorities that oversees different regional committees. In over five years of operation (2001-2007), within this organizational structure and as a result of repeated contact with offenders and prison staff, we have been able to accurately assess the impact of the increase in and diversification of the ethnocultural clientele on the programs specifically.

It is in the context of an ethnopsychological approach by the penal institution, taking into consideration both the container and the content, that we have initiated this relationship between ethnicity, culture and the prison setting. It is necessary to point out that the Karibu program was inspired by the following considerations:

1. The prison setting puts many cultures into contact with each other: the culture of the staff in contrast to that of the offenders; within the prison culture, offenders divide themselves into different majority and minority groups within a unit.

2. In this divided space, where a meeting of cultures occurs on a daily basis, there is no choice: there needs to be communication. But what to talk about, with whom and, especially, how, according to what logic and in what context?

3. Every inmate, in addition to his criminal behaviour, is part of a culture that acts as a filter for his view of the prison setting and his interaction with the environment. From this perspective, the staff would benefit from a fuller understanding of the cultures of origin of offenders from different ethnic minorities. This would correct certain stereotypes and mutual prejudices, certain attitudes that are prejudicial to cross-cultural harmony.

4. The inmates claim to want to change and they hope to have staff support them throughout this process. They would like to make changes in terms of their behaviour, but also in terms of cross-cultural communication. The purpose of this handbook is to create the appropriate context for teaching both ethnocultural offenders and correctional officers to better understand each other and communicate in a climate of mutual respect.

Selected Bibliography and References

A. On Race, Racism, Ethnicity, Culture and Related Concepts:

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Bernard, L, Trajectoire des Jeunes d'origine haïtienne dans le système québécois de protection de la Jeunesse. Thèse de doctorat, Département des sciences humaines appliquées Université de Montréal. 2001

Billig, M, L'internationale raciste, Maspéro, 1981

Collectif: Penser, classer/Le genre humain 2 (revue) Fayard, 1982

Comité d'intervention contre la violence raciste (Rapport), Violence et racisme au Québec, Montréal, Juin 1992

Commission ontarienne des droits de la personne, Un prix trop élevé-Les coûts humains du profilage racial, Rapport d'enquête, 2003.

Devereux, G, L'identité ethnique : ses bases logiques et ses dysfonctions. Dans Ethnopsychanalyse complémentariste. Flammarion, 1972.

Douyon, E, La société québécoise face au phénomène du profilage racial, Congrès du Barreau du Québec, 2004

Douyon, E, Être Noir à Montréal, dans Torczyner,J.L; Springer,S et collaborateurs. L' évolution de la communauté noire montréalaise: mutations et défis, Consortium pour l'ethnicité et la planification sociale stratégique. Université McGill, Montréal, octobre 2001

Douyon, E, L'identité antillaise, dans Alternatives-Caraïbes (revue), Montréal, vol.1,no.1,décembre 1979

Edma, Encyclopédie du monde actuel, L'anthropologie, 1977

Flem, Lydia, Le racisme, préface de Léon Poliakov, MA éditions, Paris, 1985.

Genders,Elaine; Player, Elaine, Race relations in Prisons, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989

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Guillaumin, Colette, L'idéologie raciste : genèse et langage actuel, Mouton, 1972

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Lynch, M.J; Patterson, E. B, Race and Criminal Justice, Harrow and Heston, New york, 1991.

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Saäl, Michka,(ONF), Zéro Tolérance, film sur le profilage racial, Office national du film, Montréal, Mars 2004.

Sibony,D, Le "racisme", une haine identitaire, Seuil, 2001

Taguieff, P-A, Le racisme, Flammarion, Seuil, 1997

Tanovitch, D.M, The Colour of Justice : policing race in Canada, Irwin Law ed, Toronto, 2006

Turenne, Michèle, Prouver le profilage racial: Perspectives pour un recours civil(document ) CDPDJ. Montréal, 2006

Turenne, Michèle; Saint-Pierre, Noël, Communication: Atelier sur les communautés culturelles, Congrès annuel du Barreau du Québec. Juin 2004

UNESCO, Le racisme devant la science, Gallimard, 1960 Wieviorka, M, Police et racisme,voir Wieviorka,M, La France raciste, Seuil, 1992

B. Crime and Prison:

Chantraine, G. Par-delà les murs, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France et Le Monde,2004

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Cusson, M. La délinquance, une vie choisie. Entre plaisir et crime. Québec.Cahiers du Québec, Collection Droit et Criminologie, HMH, 2005

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Lewis, J, Counselling Minorities within the Correctional Service. Voir: Samuda,R,J-Wolfgang, A (ed) Intercultural Counselling and Assessment, Global Perspectives. Toronto, C.J. Hogrefe inc, 1985

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Bauer, J, Les Minorités au Québec, Boréal, 1994

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D. Employment

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a.é.: aucun éditeur

a.d.: aucune date

E. Immigration and Protection of refugees:

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, 2001, c. 27

F. Research

Trevethan,S; Rastin, C.J, Profil de délinquants sous responsabilité fédérale, membres de minorités visibles, incarcérés et sous surveillance dans la collectivité. Direction de la recherche, Service correctionnel du Canada, Ottawa, Juin 2004 Source: