ATESL: Welcoming to the World
Over the last year or so, attitudes towards refugees and immigrants have changed considerably on the world stage. Although the Canadian federal government welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms in December 2015, the currents from other countries have chilled the international response to newcomers. These have been surprising times for all of us: Brexit and the election of Donald Trump were both unexpected by many pundits, and the implications of both of these events have been serious for many refugees and immigrants. The discourse in several European countries has become somewhat xenophobic, but Canada has stayed the course of acceptance and humanitarian openness.
ATESL, an organization in which members come into close contact with newcomers, is in a position to help other Canadians understand how important it is to assist our fellow human beings. Let us consider our mission statement:
As the professional organization of Teachers of English as a Second Language in Alberta, ATESL’s mission is to promote the highest standards of teaching and provision of English language programs for learners in Alberta whose first language is other than English. We do this by:
- encouraging and providing professional development opportunities which are consistent with generally accepted principles of adult learning and with currently understood principles of second language learning and teaching
- encouraging and supporting the participation of learners in the decision-making process which determine their educational choices
- communicating with English language program providers and learners to encourage awareness of issues of accountability and program standards
- communicating with government, business, and the general public to create awareness about immigration, settlement of immigrants and English language learning
- liaising with other organizations, local, provincial, national and international, which are engaged in education
- working collaboratively with government to develop policies and procedures which govern the provision of English language programs and related services for immigrants to Canada.
We, as ATESL members, have a responsibility to help other members of our communities – our neighbours, friends, and families – to see that newcomers to Canada are looking to rebuild their lives. They come here, as our ancestors did, to build a new life – a life of freedom, and most importantly, peace. It is our job to assist newcomers integrate by helping them learn English, but also by helping them learn about their new communities. We know newcomers better than anyone else and we are here to support them. The Board encourages you to speak out. ATESL supports newcomers and supports their integration into our wonderful society, enriched by diversity at every turn.