Academic journal article Refuge

The Location of Refugee Female Teachers in the Canadian Context: "Not Just a Refugee Woman!"

Academic journal article Refuge

The Location of Refugee Female Teachers in the Canadian Context: "Not Just a Refugee Woman!"

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper explores intersectionality of oppression and social agency in refugee narratives of four female teachers from Yugoslavia who immigrated to Ontario and Quebec between 1994 and 1998. These narratives reveal a number of systemic barriers participants encountered in their new country, such as lack of coordination between immigration and settlement services, lack of information about the teacher recertification process, systemic ignorance towards international teaching credentials and experiences, and a number of settlement practices that pushed the participating women teachers to the margins of the Canadian educational system. In addition to reporting a number of systemic barriers to teaching, these women also revealed self-imposed psychological and culturally constructed barriers to settlement such as personal perceptions of having limited language competencies, of being "too old" to continue education, and of remaining permanent outsiders to Canadian ways of being. Women also discussed their choices and priorities in terms of their personal and professional lives and the ways in which these preferences facilitated and/or hindered their integration in the Canadian education system and society. The paper challenges the toaster narrative of refugeehood in Canada by exposing the ways in which race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, and professional identity, in addition to refugeehood, shape the oppression and the privilege of refugee women in the Canadian context.

Resume

Cet article explore l'interaction entre les limitations et l'aptitude sociale au coeur des recits de quatre enseignantes yougoslaves qui ont immigre en Ontario et au Quebec entre 1994 et 1998. Leur recit revele plusieurs barrieres systemiques auxquelles ces femmes ont ete confrontees dans leur nouveau pays, telles que le manque de coordination entre les services de l'immigration et les services a l'etablissement, le manque d'information au sujet du processus de certification des enseignants, l'ignorance systemique des experiences et des reconnaissances internationales en enseignement et des pratiques de resolution, qui ont refoule ces enseignantes vers les marges du systeme canadien d'education. En plus de signaler ces barrieres a leur activite d'enseignante, ces femmes ont egalement devoile des limites psychologiques et culturelles qu'elles se sont imposees et qui ont nuit a leur etablissement, telles que leur perception de leur competences linguistiques reduites, d'etre trop vieille pour poursuivre leur education, et de demeurer malgre tout etrangeres au mode de vie canadien. Ces femmes ont egalement discute de leurs choix et de leurs priorites dans le cadre de leur vie personnelle et professionnelle, et comment ces decisions ont facilite ou freine leur integration dans la societe et le systeme d'education canadiens. Cet article conteste le discours courant sur les refugies au Canada en mettant en lumiere comment la race, la classe, le sexe, l'age, l'ethnicite, et l'identite professionnelle, en plus du statut de refugie, contribuent aux limitations et privileges des femmes refugiees dans le contexte canadien.

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I am a woman. I am a person with much potential, I wouldn't say quality, I don't know how somebody would judge that, quality or not quality but potential [sighs]. I like to challenge, expand, I am a person that could be very useful, and it's popular to say [I could be very useful] in making a difference [laughs].

--Zlata, Interview 1, May 2010

Canada has been recognized as a leading advocate of international refugee protection and the third largest settlement country, with eleven thousand new asylum claims received each year. In 2008, the Conference Board of Canada suggested increasing immigration levels and refugee intakes in the country to meet Canada's economic needs. (1) The Board also stated that the Canadian immigration system must be transparent about the selection criteria, working conditions, and available supports for immigrants and refugees, as well as responsive to the immigrants' and refugees' needs and expectations. …

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