Racism and Oppression in Settlement – Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography/ Bibliographie annotée

Racism and Oppression in Settlement/

Le racisme et l’oppression et les services d’accueil

Prepared for CCR workshop participants of/ Préparé pour les participants à

Identifying and confronting systemic racism in newcomer settlement/

Identifier et contrer le racisme systémique dans le processus d’accueil

Prepared by/ Préparé par Dina Taha, Billy Ilunga Kalenga, and/et William Payne
Refugee Research Network
(Centre for Refugee Studies/ Centre d’études sur les réfugiés, Université York University)

Definitions and Overview

Richmond, Anthony H. (2001) “Refugees and racism in Canada,” Refuge 19(6): 12-20.

Available at: http://refuge.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/refuge/article/view/21235/19906

This paper defines race and racism and explores the history of their use in Canada. It clarifies the difference between “macro” and “micro” racism and gives examples of interpersonal and systemic racism in Canada in the context of multicultural policies and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also explores the changes in Canadian immigration law and regulations and their implications for refugee movements. It concludes that there are unintended consequences of stricter control over borders and the “faster, fairer, firmer” treatment of asylum-seekers, which constitute institutional racism.

Ngo, Van Hieu (2008) “A critical examination of acculturation theories,” Critical Social Work 9(1).

Available: http://www1.uwindsor.ca/criticalsocialwork/a-critical-examination-of-acculturation-theories

Based on the author’s critical review of competing understandings of acculturation, she proposes that missing from all schools of thinking is attention to oppression, mutual transformation of newcomers and the receiving society, how identities are formed and reformed, and matters of social justice. The author is concerned that these gaps contribute to the pathologizing of marginalized groups and calls for an anti-oppressive and social justice-based theory of acculturation.

Pon, Gordon (2009) “Cultural competency as New Racism: An ontology of forgetting,” Journal of Progressive Human Services 20: 59-71

This author argues that cultural competency promotes a view of culture that is at least out of date and in doing so is itself a form of racism. He argues that cultural competency opens space for the further othering of racialized people and for the forgetting of Canada’s own history of colonialism and racism. The author recommends that cultural competency be “jettisoned” and that attention be placed on racism and colonialism.

Goldring, Luin, Carolina Berinstein and Judith K. Bernhard (2009) “Institutionalizing precarious migratory status in Canada,” Citizenship Studies 13(3): 239-265.

These authors propose that a binary framing of migration status as either legal or illegal does not reflect the situation of many people in Canada and advocate for the use of the term “precarious status” as a condition produced by government policy.

Close-up to the discrimination experience

Noh, Samuel, Morton Beiser, Violet Kaspar, Feng Hou, and Joanna Rummens (1999) “Perceived racial discrimination, depression, and coping: A study of Southeast Asian refugees in Canada,” Journal of Health and Social Behaviour 40: 193-207.

This study tests the relation between discrimination and depression, and how factors such as coping and ethnic identity play a role in determining the nature or strength of this relationship. Refugees who experienced racial discrimination had higher depression levels than those who didn’t. Refugees who coped through performing forbearance or self-control (instead of confrontation) when being discriminated against showed lower association with depression. Similarly, the benefits of forbearance were greater among those holding stronger ethnic identification.

Discrimination in the search for employment for newcomers

Jackson, Samantha and Harald Bauder (2014) “Neither Temporary, Nor Permanent: The Precarious Employment Experiences of Refugee Claimants in Canada,” Journal of Refugee Studies 27(3): 360-81.

 The paper explores the role employment plays in shaping Refugee Claimants’ (RC) integration and sense of belonging.  It specifically explores how becoming a refugee in Canada allows for unique employment barriers. While they have access to a variety of services including free language training and employment assistance, 58.6% reported ‘experiencing challenges in finding employment when they settled in their current cities’. Participants stated that they encountered various intersecting challenges including: language barriers, devalued credentials, and issues relating to assumptions of RCs’ worth and capabilities. Ironically, participants explained that they think the very narrative of ‘RCs as an economic burden’ limits their job opportunities.

Discrimination in Housing for Newcomers

Preston, Valerie, Robert Murdie, Silvia D’Addario, Prince Sibanda, and Ann M. Murnaghan,with Jennifer Logan and Mi Hae Ahn (2011) “Precarious Housing and Hidden Homelessness among Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Immigrants in the Toronto Metropolitan Area,” CERIS Working Paper No. 87.

This study explores the refugees’ and asylum seekers’ housing experiences in Canada. It consists of five parts; three studies in Canada’s major gateway cities of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montréal, a review of recent literature about the housing experiences of immigrants in Canada, and a comparative analysis of the findings from the studies in the three cities. Issues such as affordability, quality of housing, inconvenient location, conflict with neighbours, and discrimination were central to the refugee experience. Focus groups revealed two strategies they use to overcome housing difficulties: (a) They seek help from members of their own ethno-racial or religious community and (b) they settle for temporary and often inadequate housing.

Gender and refugee determination

Aberman, Tanya (2014) “Gendered perspectives on refugee determination in Canada,” Refuge 30(2): 57-66.

This author uses an intersectional perspective to examine gender in the Canadian refugee determination system. The article outlines how dominant discourses of subjectivity impact the determination process in ways that are racialized, gendered and hetero-normative.

Sexual and gender minorities dealing with the refugee system

Murray, David A. B. (2015) Real Queer? Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Refugees in the Canadian Refugee Apparatus. London & New York: Rowman and Littlefield. 208 p.

The book argues that proving one’s ‘authenticity’ as a “real queer” and performing one’s country of origin as ‘barbaric’ is in fact the underbelly of the refugee claim experience of many sexual and gender minorities. The book explores the notion of homonationalism and critiques the Canadian refugee determination system to show how through creating a western version of the homosexual, a dominant idea of the acceptable sexual citizen is imposed. This dominant idea in turn excludes SOGI who perform their sexuality and sexual orientation differently.

LaViolette, Nicole (2009) “Independent human rights documentation and sexual minorities: An ongoing challenge for the Canadian refugee determination process,” The International Journal of Human Rights 13(2-3): 437-476.

This paper examines the extent to which independent country information provides adequate and useful evidence in support SOGI applications. It argues that the shift in legal issues in the recent years requires evidence that is either not available or is not sufficiently focused or detailed to meet the legal requirements of the Canadian refugee determination process. The findings suggest two main paths to improving the evidentiary burden of sexual minority claimants. First, refugee claims adjudicators must take into account the obstacles that continue to impede the production of adequate independent country information. Second, human rights organisations must take steps to improve the independent country information that ends up being used at refugee hearings.

Discrimination in the resettlement process

Douglas, Debbie and Amy Casipullai (2012) “History of Settlement Services in Ontario,” in Unsettled Settlers: Barriers to Integration, edited by Soheila Pashang. Whitby, ON: de Sitter Publications. Pp. 55-78.

This chapter focuses on systemic discrimination that recent immigrants routinely encounter in the settlement process, impact of government policies on settlement services etc. it focuses on two main question: (a) what are the challenges that immigrants would typically experience in the first few weeks after arrival? (b) what challenges could be attributed to race, gender, class (or economic situation)? It also discusses Some recurrent central themes in settlement work including: the tension between the government and community organizations, the extent of government funding, the growing need for national service standards, pressure to diminish the advocacy component and the need to maintain a degree of autonomy by seeking and developing alternate resources.

Tools for settlement workers

Clarke, Jennifer (2012) “Doing Anti-Oppressive Settlement Work: A Critical Framework for Practice,” in Unsettled Settlers: Barriers to Integration, edited by Soheila Pashang. Whitby, ON: de Sitter Publications. Pp. 79–101.

It highlights some of the strategies that settlement workers can use to enhance the settlement and the integration of immigrants in Canada. She identifies 6 areas of difference between traditional and anti-oppressive practices: Social worker, Immigrants client/service users, Immigrant acculturation, Cultural competence, Relationship between service providers and service users, structural change. These differences are not viewed as binary opposites but rather as a continuum.

Carranza, Mirna (2007) “Building resilience and resistance against racism and discrimination among Salvadoran female youth in Canada,” Child and Family Social Work 12: 390-398.

This paper examines strategies used by mothers to build their daughters’ capacity to face discrimination and prejudice in Canada. The author raises critical issues for social work practice with newcomers, proposes public education regarding the impacts of systemic and behavioural racism by Canadians towards newcomers, and advocates for the incorporation of additional anti-oppression curriculum in the training of social workers.

Lacroix, Marie (2006) “Social Work with Asylum Seekers in Canada: The Case for Social Justice,” International Social Work 49(1): 19–28.

The article argues that to understand the plight of asylum seekers in Canada, social workers need to have a general understanding of the international context as it relates to asylum seekers, and the policies and practices that have been put in place. It, thus, explores some of the most salient factors of oppression that are directly related to international and Canadian policy discourses and practices and presents a conceptual framework (using structural social work and anti-oppressive social work) for understanding how the policy intersects with people’s lives and for identifying the issues that need to be addressed by social work practitioners.

Corneau, Simon and Vicky Stergiopoulos (2012) “More than being against it: Anti-racism and anti-oppression in mental health services,” Transcultural Psychiatry 49(2): 261-282.

This paper reviews efforts to address racism and oppression in mental health and social services and reduce their negative outcomes. They identify a series of anti-racism and anti-oppression strategies that are being deployed, including empowerment, education, alliance building, language, alternative healing strategies, advocacy, activism, and the encouragement of reflexivity. These authors argue that these frameworks should be further studied to understand how they might be further incorporated into service delivery.

Motivations for discrimination

Faulkner, J., Schaller, M., Park, J. H., & Duncan, L. A. (2004) “Evolved disease-avoidance mechanisms and contemporary xenophobic attitudes,” Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 7(4): 333-353.

The article proposes that chronic and contextually aroused feelings of vulnerability to disease motivate negative reactions to foreign peoples. These results reveal a previously under-explored influence on xenophobic attitudes, and suggest interesting linkages between evolved disease-avoidance mechanisms and contemporary social cognition.

Goodman, Simon and Shani Burke (2011) “Discursive Deracialization in Talk about Asylum Seeking. Journal of Community Applied Social Psychology 21: 111-123.

This article reports on a study that considers the ways in which race and racism are actively removed from arguments opposing asylum. Through the deployment of arguments rooted in economics, the linkage of religion to terrorism, and the advancement of the proposal that refugees resist integration, the authors show how discourse can become deracialized and thus how those opposed to welcoming asylum seekers find ways to understand themselves as not racist. They conclude by noting that the prevalence of these deracialized arguments opposing the welcoming of asylum seekers are detrimental to those fleeing persecution.

Discrimination due au sexe

McInturff, Kate (2014) Le meilleur et le pire endroit où être une femme au Canada: Un indice d’égalité entre les sexes dans les vingt plus grandes régions métropolitaines. Ottawa: Centre canadien de politiques alternatives. Ottawa.

Cet article est une étude comparative entre les hommes et les femmes dans vingt régions métropolitaines du Canada dans les cinq domaines ci-après : sécurité économique, leadership, santé, sécurité personnelle et éducation. Ces régions sont classées en raison de meilleures conditions d’épanouissement des femmes : Québec, Saskatoon, Saint John’s, Montréal, Victoria, Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau,  Sherbrooke, Halifax, Hamilton, Regina, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Saint Catherine, London, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Calgary, Windsor, Oshawa, Edmonton. Le but de cette étude est de localiser les grands écarts dans les sphères sociales en vue de combler ces disparités dues à l’inégalité de sexe pour que le fait d’être femme n’empêche personne au Canada de s’épanouir.


Rose, Damaris et Alexandra Charette (2012)  “Pierre angulaire ou maillon faible? Le logement des réfugiés, demandeurs d’asile et immigrants à Montréal,” Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Centre-Urbanisation Culture Société et Centre Métropolis du Québec-immigration et métropoles.

Cet article est une étude générale faite dans trois grandes métropoles du Canada sur la situation de logement des réfugiés sélectionnés à l’étranger et des demandeurs d’asile au Canada. Il s’agit de la comparaison de Montréal à Toronto et Vancouver, les trois grandes premières métropoles qui accueillent le plus de réfugiés et immigrants au Canada. Le résultat démontre que ces deux catégories de réfugiés sont confrontés en majorité à la précarité résidentielle extrême due au manque d’accompagnement è leur arrivée et à la précarité de leur statut. Il évoque également les obstacles à l’accès au logement qui est discriminatoire à cause de leur faible revenu, leur origine, le statut légal, la taille de famille etc. Il formule enfin des recommandations.

La discrimination institutionnelle

Constance Backhouse (2010) De la couleur des lois: une histoire juridique du racisme au Canada entre 1900 et 1950. Ottawa: Presse de l’Université d’Ottawa.

Cet ouvrage parle de l’histoire du racisme au Canada dans sa forme institutionnelle à partir du premier recensement qui a été effectué au Canada en 1901 où le premier critère de distinction des populations était la couleur de leur peau avant d’évoluer pour parler de leur origine et plus tard en termes de majorité et minorités. L’auteur mentionne aussi le fait qu’au fil du temps les Canadiennes et les Canadiens se sont  habitués à décrire les individus sans faire référence à leur race. L’institutionnalisation du racisme était dans les décisions judiciaires publiées dans les recueils de jurisprudence canadienne et dans les lois entre 1900 et 1950 que l’auteur a étudiées car ces décisions et lois recouraient aux schémas raciaux pour distinguer et hiérarchiser les populations. Il décrit le droit de l’époque comme étant un instrument d’oppression dirigée contre les communautés racialisées et que les lois d’immigration  de l’époque ont été conçues dans cette perspective avant leur évolution.

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