Giving a voice to labour migrants
Much has been written lately about how people from around the world immigrate to Canada, become citizens, and strengthen Canada’s multicultural identity. Contrary to these popular narratives, though, the focus of Canadian immigration policy over the last three decades has shifted towards temporary migrants who have few rights, limited pathways to citizenship, and often feel invisible to others.
As Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policy, Impacts, and Activism, Ethel Tungohan provides insights into how labour migrants fare under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, and the Caregiver Program. Using innovative, socially engaged research methods, she investigates the extent to which migrant communities feel they “belong” in Canada, and how they work to ensure that their interests are represented in public arenas.
Tungohan emphasizes collaboration and partnerships with community organizations to prioritize the perspectives of migrant populations, rather than treating them as “objects” of research. Her methods generate nuanced understanding of the effects of discourse and policies towards different groups of migrants, while also giving migrant community organizations deeper insight into how to best advance their members’ interests.
By analyzing conversations with migrant communities— including oral life histories—and ethnographic research, Tungohan will continue to reveal the vulnerability of labour migrants, the influence activists have on policy-making, and the ways migrant activism creates an important forum for developing alternatives to existing economic, political and social arrangements. In this way, she will give a voice to the migrant community’s hopes, dreams and aspirations.