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Working Together? Settlement Services and Immigrant Employment in Mid-Sized Canadian Cities

  • Author / Creator
    Thomas, Jasmine T.
  • This dissertation challenges the narrative of Canada as a welcoming and inclusive nation. Critical race theory and intersectional feminism provide a framework that assesses newcomer labour market experiences from the perspectives of two different stakeholder groups, immigrant professionals and service providers within the immigration settlement sector. The experiences of immigrant professionals, particularly people of colour, demonstrate a disproportionate risk of labour market exclusion. Sixty semi-structured interviews held in two mid-sized Canadian cities (Winnipeg and Edmonton) with immigrant professionals and settlement workers provided two different positions for understanding the barriers, challenges, opportunities and advantages that encompass the immigration journey. Upon settlement, while many immigrants do well and secure career-related employment, over half of immigrant participants in this study experienced significant labour market barriers, disappointed expectations and un- or under-employment. Additionally, settlement services provided valuable assistance, but not necessarily the type of anti-oppression advocacy or specialized supports that immigrant professionals required. This dissertation also acknowledges the inherent conflicts that result from colonial capitalism itself. I argue that while this colonial project must be disrupted, newcomers should be able to live fulfilling and socio-economically stable lives and enjoy meaningful career-related employment opportunities. Four papers outline the experiences of immigrant professionals as they navigate the labour market. Paper one, Teaching Somebody to Fish, reviews the philosophies and strategies that settlement workers adhere to in their work with newcomer professionals. While I expected overwhelming dominance of neoliberal expectations for clients, there were complicated results that both reified neoliberal influences while simultaneously creating space for meaningful anti-racist advocacy that questioned both immigration and settlement policies as well as the broader narrative of Canadian society as welcoming and inclusive. Paper two, Should I Stay or Should I Go Home, switches the focus to immigrant participants’ disappointed pre- and post-arrival expectations and the plans or wish for return-migration. Paper three, Perceptions of Settlement and Employment Challenges, brings together the diverse perspectives of the two groups of participants to determine if both groups have similar understandings of labour market challenges. Paper four, Working Together or Not, synthesizes many of the previous themes that link these chapters together to determine if services are helpful, how they can be improved and interrogating narratives around a distinction between the “right” and “wrong” kinds of immigrants. In an Appendix, I critically reflect on the role of white anti-racist scholarship and activism within the colonial white supremacist context of Canada.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3PG1J26P
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Sociology
  • Specialization
    • Immigration
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Krahn, Harvey (Sociology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Hughes, Karen (Sociology)
    • Creese, Gillian (Sociology, University of British Columbia)
    • Derwing, Tracey (Educational Psychology)
    • Dorow, Sara (Sociology)