by Yulia Yarotska
On March 19, 2004, Professor Wsevolod W. Isajiw delivered the 18th Annual Ivan Franko Memorial Lecture on “The Fourth Wave of Immigration from Ukraine to Canada.” The lecture was co-sponsored by The Chair of Ukrainian Studies and The Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Ottawa. Isajiw, a foremost sociologist of ethnic communities in Canada, taught for nearly three decades at the University of Toronto until his retirement in 1999. He has since served as President of the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre in Toronto and has recently edited two important volumes on Society in Transition. Social Change in Ukraine in Western Perspectives (2003) and Famine-Genocide in Ukraine 1932-1933. Western Archives, Testimonies and New Research (2003).
Isajiw presented the results of a survey he conducted on the fourth wave and its integration into the Ukrainian community in Canada. The first three waves of migration from Ukraine roughly occurred before World War I, during the intewar period, and after World War II. The fourth wave, largely post-1991, is sociologically different from all previous ones. The survey was conducted in the Toronto area in 2001. The team of researchers, led by Isajiw, aimed to answer two questions: how well new immigrants are adapting economically and how well they are integrating in the Ukrainian community.
In the first case, the survey presented information on the percentage of immigrants by regions of Ukraine, education (in Ukraine and Canada), proficiency inEnglish, occupational social mobility, and employment performance (difficulties in finding job, adjustments to the labor market, and so forth). In general, the fourth wave was more highly educated (85.9 percent with post secondary education and 73.1 percent with university education). Immigrants who previously worked in computers, business, and finance were generally able to pursue successful careers in Canada. On the other hand, those from professional spheres, particularly from engineering and the humanities, had difficulties finding positions in their specialized sphere and needed either to accept less qualified jobs or to change course. Canadian employment centers helped only 1 percent of immigrants, whereas newspaper advertisements, friends and direct contacts with employers were the most helpful.
In the second case, the extent of integration into the Ukrainian community, the Isajiw team looked at membership in organizations, activities attended, interest in politics, culture (language used, holidays celebrated), and religious practice. Immigrants were found to be very interested in Ukrainian (88.4 percent) and Canadian (82.8 percent) politics. An even higher proportion (92.3 percent) consider it important to pass on Ukrainian culture to their children and half would send their children to a Ukrainian school. A large majority (78,3 percent) believe that Canadians treat immigrants positively.
A sore point of contention between the third and fourth waves of immigration, however, is the use of the Russian language. Third wave immigrants, overwhelmingly hailing from Western Ukraine, consider Russian a foreign language. Many fourth wave immigrants, on the other hand, use Russian as their language of preference, even if they tend to associate themselves with Ukrainian as their “native” language. As a result, most new immigrants shy away from community organizations established by previous waves, even though they retain an interest in following events in the motherland and passing on Ukrainian culture to their children. This led Isajiw to offer the view that the fourth wave may end up creating its own organizations in the long run, except for those economically-oriented, as the fourth wave is much more prone to think in terms of economic benefits.
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