Week 5: Gender, Race, and Migration
An immigrant is commonly defined as an individual who migrates from one country to another. The individual experiences of immigrants within Canada varies greatly dependent upon their race, gender, nationality, class, sexuality, and other life factors. Himani Bannerji, a sociology professor at York University and the author of The Dark Side of the Nation identifies and exposes some of the realities of being an immigrant in Canada. The author explores what it means to either be an insider or an outsider in Canadian society. According to Bannerji, to be a “Canadian” is to have white skin and a European, North American background (Bannerji 64). The author discusses the issue of Canadian society places labels on individuals from the moment that they immigrate to Canada. These labels never fade, regardless of citizenship and permanent residency, within Canadian society, there is common mentality of once an immigrant, always an immigrant. There is a lasting paradox between a feeling of belonging and not-belonging. One can gain citizenship but this does not give them membership to fit into society.
Author and sociology professor at UBC, Gillian Creese conducted a research study in Vancouver B.C. looking at the gendered experiences of African immigrants in Canada. The authors also draws attention to the varied experiences of immigration and settlement in Canada. Two key terms used in Canada to describe immigration is that it is a multicultural and diverse nation. The dictionary defines Multiculturalism as “the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society, as a state or nation” and Diversity as “the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.” (Dictionary.com) Through the study, Creese found that African-Canadian individuals experienced discrimination based on their accent, discreditation of previous
credentials and work experience, and overall everyday racism in the workplace.
If you are interested in the issue of what it means to be an immigrant or non-Anglo-Canadian in Canada, this TVO interview has many good points and is worth watching. . Also, this mini-interview with a married couple who immigrated to Canada from Bangladesh contextualizes the reality of resettling in Canadian society today.
Bannerji, Himani. The Dark Side of The Nation: Essays on Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Gender. Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2000. (Chapter 2)
Creese, Gillian, The New African Diaspora in Vancouver: Migration, Exclusion, and Belonging. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011. (Introduction, Chapter 5)