Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

"Teaching Somebody to Fish": Implications for Immigrant-Serving Organizations and Employment in Edmonton and Winnipeg

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

"Teaching Somebody to Fish": Implications for Immigrant-Serving Organizations and Employment in Edmonton and Winnipeg

Article excerpt


Provincial governments increasingly develop strategies that attract immigrants to settle in the Prairie Provinces. Although considerable research examines the role of settlement services in larger cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, there is less information regarding mid-sized cities. Increasingly, newcomers are moving to Manitoba and Alberta due to real or perceived economic opportunities. Unfortunately, some immigrants experience difficulties during their settlement process, and their varied needs create challenges for immigrant-serving organizations as they develop programs. This study explores how philosophies of empowerment influence service providers and their programs for working with professional newcomers searching for meaningful employment. Semi-structured interviews with 21 service providers in Edmonton and Winnipeg illustrate how tensions between competing notions of empowerment and neoliberal ideologies interact to guide how service providers assist immigrants. Although empowerment is a goal of service provision, limited funding and resources may constrain the advocacy role of organizations.


Les gouvernements provinciaux developpent de plus en plus des strategies qui attirent les immigrants a s'installer dans les provinces des prairies. Bien que d'importantes recherches examinent le role des services d'etablissement dans metropoles comme Toronto, Montreal et Vancouver, il y a moins d'informations concernant les villes moyennes. De plus en plus, les nouveaux arrivants demenagent pour le Manitoba et l'Alberta en raison des opportunites economiques reelles et pergues. Malheureusement, certains immigrants rencontrent des difficultes au cours de leur processus d'integration, et leurs besoins divers constituent un veritable defi pour les organismes d'aide aux immigrants dans l'elaboration de leurs programmes. Cette etude vise a explorer comment les philosophies d'autonomisation influencent les pourvoyeurs de service ainsi que leurs programmes dans leur travail avec les nouveaux arrivants qualifies pour la recherche d'emplois significatifs. Les entrevues realisees aupres de 21 pourvoyeurs de services semi-structures a Edmonton et a Winnipeg illustrent les rivalites entre les notions d'autonomisation et les ideologies neoliberales qui interagissent pour orienter les pourvoyeurs de services afin qu'ils assistent mieux les immigrants. Bien que l'autonomisation soit l'objectif de ces prestations des services, les financements et ressources limites pourraient restreindre le role de plaidoyer des organismes.


This study challenges the notion that the declining employment outcomes of immigrant professionals are individualistic problems, and rather, I argue that immigrant-serving organizations, newcomers, and governments must work together to address broader systemic barriers to meaningful employment. One approach to promote systemic change in the labour market could involve an advocacy role within service provision that empowers and promotes the political inclusion of clients and their communities. Advocacy in service provision is important because there are significant obstacles for many immigrants as they search for jobs related to their educational credentials or previous careers. Employment services are the primary focus of this research because insufficient financial stability compromises full participation and inclusion in Canadian society (Breton 2000; Danso 2002). I analyze interviews with representatives of immigrant-serving agencies in Edmonton, Alberta, and Winnipeg, Manitoba to determine how they are or are not contributing to the process of immigrants finding satisfactory employment. I conceptualize effective advocacy as a collaborative process where agencies and immigrants work together to navigate a labour market characterized by prevalent ethno-racial inequality.

The turbulent history of Canadian immigration policy involved overtly racist preferences for immigrants of white racialized origins (Driedger and Haiti 1999; Isajiw 1999; Simich, Beiser, Stewart and Mwakarimba 2005). …

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