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Negotiating identities : Indian Canadian child protection workers speak out Sodhi, Sabina 2008

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NEGOTIATING IDENTITIES: INDIAN CANADIAN CHILD PROTECTION WORKERS SPEAK OUT by SABINA SODHI BSW, The University of Victoria, 2002 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) OCTOBER 2008 © Sabina Sodhi, 2008 Abstract The population of ‘ethnic minorities’ is continuously increasing in Canada. There is now a large population of second generation individuals who are the children of immigrants, but born and raised in Canada. As this population rises, diversity in the workforce is also increasing. This is especially true in the area of social work. There are many more women of colour becoming social workers in Vancouver. Many studies have been completed on how to work cross culturally with the client, but there is limited research on the social workers own ethno-racial identities within this interaction. Their ethno-racial identities are impacted by many different experiences including those of multiculturalism, immigration, gender, and racism. Using a qualitative approach informed by a feminist perspective, this study has explored the understanding that 6 second generation Indian Canadian female social workers have of their racial and cultural identity and how that impacts their practice as social workers. This study has been informed by a grounded theory approach for data collection and data analysis. This study has found that the understanding that women of colour social workers have of their racial and cultural identity does indeed influence the way they practice social work. Although, for each of the 6 participants of this study, the impact of their ethno-racial identity on their social work practice might be different, they share some similar experiences and perspectives which have important implications to social work practice and research. 11 TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables v Acknowledgments vi Introduction 1 Locating the Researcher 1 Organization of the Thesis 3 Literature Review 6 Immigration to Canada 7 Multiculturalism 8 Acculturation 11 Cultural Identity 13 Gender 14 Third Space 16 Culturally Competent Practice 18 Child Protection Service and Professional Power 21 Methodology 23 Sampling 25 Data Collection 27 Data Analysis 28 Trustworthiness 30 Limitations 3 1 Findings 33 The Participants 33 Individual Profiles 34 The Ethnicized Female 38 Conflation of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity 38 Negotiating the Ethnic Label 40 Being an Indian Woman 42 Being Culturally Different 44 Living a Double Life 44 Multiculturalism: Truth or Deception’? 46 Racialized Reality 50 111 Racism through Generations .51 Racism and Canadian Identity 53 Personalizing Professional Identity 55 Working with Indian Clients 55 Working with Non-Indian Clients 59 Working with White Clients 61 Context of Social Work: Negotiating Identities 62 Shifting Identities 62 Having Authority 63 The Challenges of being a Law Enforcement Agent 65 Using Discretion: Asserting Professional Identity 67 Conclusion 70 Discussion 71 Culturalization of Difference 71 Insider-Outsider: An Otherizing Process 72 Conflation of Race, Culture and Ethnicity 73 Identity: A Constant Negotiation Process 75 Culturalization of Gendered Identities 78 Negotiation of the Professional Role as a Social Worker 80 Authority as a Minority 80 An Institutional Silencing of the Coloured Woman 82 Same or Different? Contextualized Work 84 Conclusion 87 Social Work Implications 88 References 92 Appendix A: Recruitment Email 98 Appendix B: Participant Consent Form 100 Appendix C: Interview Questions 102 Appendix D: Revised Interview Questions 103 Appendix E: Ethics Certificate of Approval Forms 104 iv LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Profile of Participants .34 V ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This project could not have been possible without the support of many people. First and foremost, many thanks to my advisor, Miu Chung Yan, who imparted his wisdom and guided me through the process. Thank you also to my committee members, Sunera Thobani and Paule McNicoll, who provided me with direction and support. And finally, thanks to my family and friends for being there, putting up with me and loving me all the same. vi INTRODUCTION As the population of “visible minorities” in Canada is increasing, so is diversity in the work force. This is particularly true for the social work profession in Vancouver, where more women of colour have been joining this profession. Cultural competence in social work has become an important piece of education and research in recent years. There are an increasing number of studies on cross-cultural social work practice. Yet, most studies are focused on the influence of culture on the clients. Studies on how social workers’ own ethno-racial identities influence their practice are scant. In addition, most studies tend to focus on how “white social workers” work with culturally different clients; the experience of ethno-racial minority social workers has not yet been properly studied. Using a qualitative research method, this study explores how a group of six women of colour, or more specifically Indian-Canadian women, who are social workers, understand their racial and cultural identity and how those identities may affect their practice. Locating the Researcher It is important to tell my story, because it is enmeshed in this study. I am a Canadian-born Indian woman, a child of immigrants who were born in India and immigrated to Canada in the early 1 970s. I was born and raised in Canada; however, I have been to India many times and feel a very strong connection to that country. In the last year of my Bachelor of Social Work program, I went to India for a social work practicum placement, an experience that resulted in many questions about my identity. Prior to this trip, I always identified myself as being “Indian”; however, the trip made me 1 realize that I was actually an outsider in India. I was not truly Indian because there was a “Canadian” side in me. But here in Canada, I was not truly Canadian because there was an “Indian” side in me. I have always been part of these two cultures, Indian and Canadian, but in a way I was not entirely part of either one. It has been difficult at times to negotiate my identity within two cultures. After searching for literature on the experiences of other women and reflecting on my own experience, I realized that I might be in a space between these cultures. I might not be just Canadian and not just Indian, but both and maybe something more. Gupta (1999) highlighted the experiences of South Asian women in the US. There is an essay in this book by a South Asian woman named Lubna Chaudhry, whose experience I identified with. Although Chaudhry was a foreign graduate student in the US, her experience is relevant to me and this study. Gupta describes her experience in the following way: “Chaudhry’ s life is that of a cultural hybrid. She lives within several different worlds, sometimes on the periphery of one or more, sometimes at their intersection, and sometimes in the midst of one, yet never fully in one as there is usually a level of awareness of other realities” (p. 29). This quote was particularly moving for me, because it is an appropriate description of my own experience and perhaps the experience of many other second-generation Indian women. As a social worker, I am aware that my own identity influences my practice. As a social worker in the child protection service, I was caught many times in the tension between this hyphenated identity and my professional role. Even though I was born and raised in Canada, I have experienced direct racism, contrary to my expectations. Having an understanding of racism and the experience of it, I have tried to be conscious of and 2 reflective about my social work practice with people who are not from the dominant White European-American culture. I am convinced that this framework of values and beliefs would show in my written assessments or the way I practised. For instance, I worked as a child protection social worker for two years in London, England. The experience of visiting the homes of my clients, a necessary part of my job, was thought- provoking and challenging. When I visited a family, I was often not of the same race or culture, and many times I did not even speak the same language; but I was completing an assessment and writing a report that would remain with these families for the rest of their lives. I found that experience to be very powerful but also dangerous. It was a somewhat intrusive position that I was in, but one in which I could make significant change, positive or negative. Writing those assessments from my position was significant. especially when I worked with people who were not white; I believed I understood their experience of being an “outsider” in the dominant culture. This is the time I began to question how my own culture and race affected the assessments that I was undertaking. Organization of the Thesis This thesis has six chapters. Chapter 2 comprises a literature review of traditional and more current literature on areas related to this topic: immigration, acculturation, multiculturalism, and cultural identity. The literature demonstrates that the multiculturalism discourse of Canada has affected the way that individuals acculturate and negotiate their cultural identity within this context. For second-generation women social workers this is complex, because the experience of their parents affects their own 3 understanding of cultural identity and subsequently the way they practise as social workers. This understanding of cultural identity provides a background for this study in which the gaps in research can be addressed. In Chapter 3, I discuss the methodology that I used to carry out this study. This exploratory study was informed by a feminist perspective to allow the women in this study to share their stories. Together six “Indian” women social workers, who have worked in the child protection service, were recruited and interviewed. A qualitative research approach, informed by a grounded theory approach, was used to collect and analyze data. Chapter 4 reports the findings of this study. To provide a human face to these six participants whose stories are conflated in the findings, I begin this chapter with a brief description of each participant who was interviewed. The findings unfolded according to four main themes identified in the data: 1) the ethnicized female, 2) being culturally different, 3) personalizing professional identity, and 4) the context of social work: negotiating identities. The first theme concerns the identities of the participants as gendered ethnic women Canada. Using direct quotations, I presented the understanding that these women had of their own cultural and racial identity. The second theme is their identities within the multicultural framework of Canada, and the third is how the understanding of their ethno-racial identities influences their practice. The last theme is strategies that the participants use to negotiate their identities within different contexts of their personal and professional lives. Chapter 5, the discussion, emphasizes the major concerns that arose from the literature review and the findings of this study. Highlighted is the way that the multiculturalism discourse conflates race, ethnicity, and culture and how it becomes 4 problematic by “otherizing” women of colour. How the experience of cultural identity is gendered and how these women must constantly negotiate their identities is discussed. As women of colour in the child protection service, they must constantly negotiate not only their identities but the way others identify them as well, as with the authority of their positions. The ways that the cultural competence model may limit their practice as social workers is discussed in this chapter. In Chapter 6, the conclusion, I discuss the contributions of this work to both social work practice and social work research. There needs to be a more flexible understanding of the cultural identity of social workers, an understanding that takes into consideration reflexivity and the dialogical process. I conclude by suggesting some areas of future research, including the intersection of identities other than cultural identity, and the influence of organizational setting and culture on the practice of social workers. In sum, through conducting this research and writing this thesis, I have gained an understanding of the complexity of the interconnection of these layers of identity. Listening to other women and understanding how they identify themselves and how they make sense of their identity and experiences has intrigued and challenged me. I am conscious that my own views and beliefs may have influenced the information received or interpreted in this study. I am also cognizant that, as indicated in the findings, not all second-generation Indian women share the same experiences and perspectives of being a racialized subject in Canada. Therefore, the findings of this study provide only a preliminary understanding of a complex story. For a deep description, there is a great need for more studies on both how social workers’ own ethno-racial identities influence their work and what the experience of ethno-racial minorities social workers are. 5 LITERATURE REVIEW Chapter 2 begins with a brief history of the literature on immigration in Canada and how it has resulted in a multiculturalism policy that shaped the ideological constructs of Canadian society. Under the notion of multiculturalism, Canada is described as a cultural mosaic of which assimilation is not explicitly implied. However, immigrants cannot escape being acculturated. It is important to note that acculturation theories have changed over the years; earlier theories were criticized for being assimilative and linear. Understanding how immigrants may experience migration is important to understand how they and the generation after them understand their cultural identity. This discussion is followed by some of the debates of the multiculturalism policy and how it has had a substantial influence on the immigrant experience. The immigrant experience is also a gendered experience. Therefore, a discussion on how gender also shapes the understanding of the participants’ cultural identity while living in Canada is significant to this study. Scholars have suggested that second- generation South Asian women in Canada may be living in a “third space,” in which their identities are fluid and flexible, in which they are adaptable yet sometimes in conflict (Handa, 2003; Das Gupta, 1997). This concept of “third space” is presented later in this chapter. This literature review concludes with a discussion of cultural competence in social work practice and the significance of the social workers’ identity in the practitioner-client interaction. 6 Immigration to Canada Looking at immigration policies over the last century has revealed somewhat inconsistent practices regarding non-white immigration to Canada. Over the years, generally Canadian immigration policy has maintained criteria of exclusion and cultural difference, preferring white European immigrants over non-white immigrants. However, this policy resulted in tension between a need for workers and the desire to maintain a white cultural authority (Handa, 2003). Although many politicians and citizens were not happy with migration, the federal government was reluctant to ban all Asian migration (Das Gupta, 1995). A compromise was reached by introducing legislation that would allow immigrants into the country but still restrict people migrating from Asia. This legislation includes the infamous Chinese head tax and the “continuous journey stipulation,” both of which acted as measures to restrict immigrants. An important example of the racist policies in place at the time is the Komagata Maru incident. In 1914, a ship by the name of Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver with about 400 Indians, mostly Punjabis, aboard. This boat had picked up passengers from different places on the voyage to Canada and therefore did not meet the continuous journey stipulation. The boat remained anchored for two months at Burrard Inlet in Vancouver without any of the passengers being allowed to disembark. It was eventually escorted out under federal military control (Dua, 2007; Walton-Roberts, 2003; Handa, 2003; Bissoondath, 1994). Immigration from India was minimal until the 1 960s, when the decline in natural population growth resulted in an increased need for immigration (Sundar, 2006). A significant number of South Asians immigrated to Canada after the 1 960s, especially 7 after 1967 when the points system was introduced (Walton-Roberts, 2003). This system was intended to eliminate discrimination based on race, religion, or national origin and worked towards appealing to a more skilled and qualified class of immigrants. To increase the likelihood of being allowed to enter Canada, immigrants needed to accumulate a minimum number of points, based on criteria including education and training, personal qualities, number of relatives already living in Canada, and level of skill. The introduction of the points system led to the greatest number of non-white immigrants to Canada (George, 2003). This period of increased immigration changed the idea of Canada being an exclusively “white” nation. It was during this time that then- Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the multiculturalism policy. Multiculturalism The multiculturalism policy was developed in 1971 by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. It came at a time when immigration from non-European countries was on the increase, demographically beginning to change the character of the nation. There seemed to be a need to acknowledge this change on the international front. Thobani (2007) states, “the adoption of multiculturalism enabled the nation’s self-presentation on the global stage as urbane, cosmopolitan, and at the cutting edge of promoting racial and ethnic tolerance among western nations” (p. 144). Multiculturalism in Canada was and still is an ideology that is organized and sanctioned by the state, celebration of “cultural diversity” being the focus (Bannerji, 2000; Thobani, 2007). This policy is meant to encourage celebration of different cultures and to promote learning about the diversity of “ethnic” groups. The Multiculturalism Act states the Government of Canada is to “recognize and 8 promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage” (Multiculturalism Policy, 1988) However, critics of this policy have stated that, as a result of this very policy, non-white individuals, groups, and cultures have been stereotyped and categorized into fixed, static entities (Bannerji, 2000; Sharma, 2003; Bissoondath, 1994). Through its multiculturalism policy, Canada offers to celebrate different cultures and maintain equality of all people; however, at the same time, an element of whiteness is quietly brought into the multiculturalism policy without being acknowledged or put into the forefront, marking the difference between the white population and the non-white population (Bannerji, 2000). In other words, the multiculturalism policy is implicitly essentialist and racist by “othering” people who are not white. This policy has divided the nation into white and non-white, making people of colour identifiable because of their “cultural differences.” Park (2005) discusses culture as being a marker of difference and of deficit. She explains that “the concept of culture has come to characterize the minority, the person of colour” (p. 29). People with culture, in most case who are also visible minorities, are seen as having certain deficits that people with no culture, who happen to be white, do not have. Bannerji (2000) states, “Multiculturalism as an official practice and discourse has worked actively to create the notion and practices of insulated communities” (p. 48). Thus, this policy becomes a way to racialize Canadian society and divide it into “us” and “them.” Through the multiculturalism policy, race and colour have been translated into a language of visibility, and the term “cultural minority” has equivalently been used as 9 “visible minority.” Both terms have become an unquestioned part of the multiculturalist discourse. Park (2005) discusses the conflation of the terms culture, race, and ethnicity in her article. She explains, “culture has largely replaced the categories of race and ethnicity as the preferred trope of difference; it is a markedly less controversial indicator than race despite whose continued ubiquity is increasingly denied both conceptual legitimacy and political bona fides” (p. 29). Razack (1998) terms this conflation as the “culturalization of difference” because it reduces structural issues to cultural characteristics, which end up masking the systemic relations of power (Wong, Cheng, Choi, Ky, LeBa, Tsang, & Yoo, 2003). In an important book titled Orientalism, Edward Said (1978) discusses how “us” and “them” are formed and maintained. He describes how the people, communities, and cultures are “otherized” by the dominant West, or the Occident as he refers to it. By this very process, the dominant group is also defining themselves in relation to the “other.” Hence, in the context of Canada, by defining “the cultural and visible minorities” against the general white population, the multiculturalism policy has privileged the majority and the dominant group. There is a failure to notice the ethnicity or colour of white people, a failure that results in a power discrepancy between a dominant and a subordinate group. Yee states, “whiteness has power by remaining unnamed and unmarked in contrast to the racial ‘other’, who is classified, ordered and defined into cultural and ethnic categories” (2004, p. 93). Whiteness in Canada has become the primary means of identifying people and has placed them in marginal positions. The term ethnic is applied to people of a different culture or colour from the majority population, which in this Canadian context is the white population. Schick (1995) asserts that, in Canada, “whiteness” is dependent on 10 the “other” to define its dominance in relational terms. She suggests that the “white body is a culturally organized site of nationalism which has come to represent what it is to be defined as a Canadian” (p. 205). It is in this context that immigrants inevitably have to negotiate with acculturation. Acculturation The earlier model of acculturation is understood as the phenomena which resulted when a group of people came into contact with another culture or society (Berry, 1980). Berry described the stages of change in acculturation as contact, conflict, and adaptation. The first stage of contact occurred through trade, invasion, enslavement, educational or missionary activity, or through telecommunications. The second stage was the conflict which resulted from resistance between the two cultural groups that had come into contact. The last stage of adaptation was the result of ways to reduce or manage this conflict (Berry, 1980). This model assumed that the individual or group went through a fairly linear process of change and adapted to the new milieu to become part of the “new” culture while maintaining its own cultural ties. Later, Berry changed his theory to reflect the changes in acculturation (Berry, 1998). He discussed four strategies that immigrants use in the process of acculturation: assimilation, separation, integration, and marginalization. Assimilation occurs when immigrants do not want to keep their cultural heritage and seek to become part of the dominant culture. Separation is the time the immigrant group wants to avoid all interaction with the dominant group, in order to hold on to its own culture. In contrast, integration occurs when the non-dominant group is interested in maintaining its own culture but at the same time wants to become part of the dominant culture. Finally, when 11 the immigrant group is not interested in holding on to its culture and at the same time is not interested in interacting with the dominant group, marginalization results (Berry, 2001). These strategies of acculturation still assumed that non-dominant groups and their individual members had the option to choose how they wanted to acculturate. However, another dimension was later added to the original definition of acculturation, one that incorporates the notion that the dominant group actually influences the way in which acculturation would take place (Berry, 2001). This somewhat linear approach to acculturation was challenged by other scholars. Hermans and Kempens argued against this traditional view of acculturation by stating that “globalization involves social processes that are complex and laden with tension” (1998, p. 1112). They suggest that we cannot look at the process of immigration and acculturation in a linear way. Bhatia states, “in a world of increasing globalization, the rapid creation of multinational citizens, the formation of diasporic communities, massive flows of transmigration and border crossings, acculturation becomes complicated” (2002, p. 56). As observed, over the last decade, it is becoming more evident that immigrants do not simply settle into the “new country”; they actually continue to maintain important links with their places of origin. Many immigrants, while living in Canada, maintain strong emotional, social, and political connections with their country of origin. This phenomenon has been termed transnationalism (Kelly, 2003). Transnationalism may be defined as “a social process whereby migrants operate in social fields that transgress geographic, political, and cultural borders” (Brettel, 2003 as cited in Thapan, 2005). This definition of transnationalism allows to us to view the immigrant as straddling two worlds, having attachment to two or more nations at the same time (Thapan, 2005). It is 12 important to understand this concept of transnationalism, because the experiences and understanding of the cultural identity of the first-generation immigrant is directly related to the second generation’s confusion and struggle of its cultural identity. Cultural Identity Because of the complex global-local connectivity, Hermans and Kempen (1998) propose that we may need to look at acculturation and identity as a constantly shifting and changing process. The idea that the culture and identity of immigrants is thought to be fixed and static has dominated the acculturation theory; however, there is a noticeably growing body of literature arguing that culture and cultural identity are shifting and changing at different points and in different contexts. For immigrants this means that their cultural identities are shifting in different contexts not only at a transnational level but also within different locales in the society where they live. They are constantly negotiating their different identities in these different locations. When asking the question, “how do diasporic immigrants negotiate their sense of simultaneously being in multiple cultures and their sense of being ‘hyphenated’ and ‘in- between’ cultures?” (2002, p. 62), Bhatia introduces a dialogical model which allows us to consider cultural identity in a new way. Rather than the idea of migrants being confused or in conflict about their cultural identity, this new model theorizes that the multiple positions are very much a part of the diasporic self (Bhatia, 2002). Bhatia explains this dialogical model as a back-and-forth movement between different positions of race, culture, colonial, and post-colonial history and power. 13 A dialogical approach assumes that these positions are always developing, shifting, reconstructing and that identity is not as unproblematic or as transparent as we think (Hall, 1990). Hall claims that we need to look at cultural identity as a matter of “becoming” as well as “being,” rather than a fixed entity. He suggests, “diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and difference” (p. 235). If this is the case, as the new articulation on acculturation suggests (Bhatia, 2002; Hall, 1990; Hermans & Kempen, 1998; Kelly, 2003), then how does the second generation from an ethno-racial minority immigrant family, who is born and raised in Canada, understand its racial and cultural identity? Gender Gender plays an important role in the understanding of one’s identity. In the Canadian multicultural context, Bannerji (2000) asserts “women of colour are simultaneously essentialised into homogenized yet racialized and ethnicized subjects, whose actual differences are drowned in the multicultural discourse of diversity” (p. 156). An example of this is the issue of violence against women of colour, which has become a “cultural” problem rather than a structural one (Bannerji, 2000; Thobani, 2005). These structural problems that women face are seen as the result of the backwardness and traditions of the culture of immigrants. Research on female migrants, and more importantly the contribution of gender to immigrants’ experiences, has emerged only in the past two decades. Women were “essentially.. .left out of theoretical thinking about migration” (Brettel & Simmon, 1986, p. 3 as cited in Dion & Dion, 2001). The experience of male immigrants dominated much 14 of the earlier research, which resulted in the invisibility and stereotyping of women. Women primarily migrated on the basis of spouses who migrated due to political or economic events in their home countries (Dion & Dion, 2001). Thus women were seen as “dependents” on their husbands or dependents on the “head of the household.” Some of the literature about Indian immigrant women presents the cultural struggles and the transition period that resulted from migration. Immigrant women often looked after the families at home, had few friends, were often isolated, and may not have spoken English (Ralston, 1999). Women also had the responsibility of keeping “ethnic identity” alive in the household (Miedema & Tastsoglou, 2000). For many immigrant women, this meant assimilating with Canadian culture when outside of the home, and then shifting culturally when inside of the home. Many first-generation women were afraid that their second-generation children would lose their identity of being Indian and so believed it important to transmit their cultural beliefs to their children. Often it was the mothers who passed on these values and beliefs to their daughters (Handa, 2003; Rayaprol, 2005). The intergenerational differences of experiences of living in Canada is deemed critical to the identity formation of the second-generation women of colour, who may not identify with their culture but are still racialized as the “other” in the host country of their parents, where they, however, were born. Second-generation women may have been pressured more to be socialized traditionally by parents who believed the host society was threatening their traditional values (Das Gupta, 1997). This is integral to the understanding of the connection between the first generation and the second generation. 15 First-generation parents had greater expectations for second-generation daughters to represent and carry out traditional ideals than for the sons. Rayaprol (2005) notices that the second-generation women in her study identified with being “more” “South Asian” than the second-generation men did. The second- generation women who participated in Rayaprol’s study did not believe this to be a burden but rather “as part of the gendered socialization that their parents had engaged in” (2005, p. 142). This experience of socialization represents the gendered nature of cultural conflict within the Indian diaspora and how it affects the ethno-cultural identity of the new generation women. Studies have suggested that the gender struggle for most immigrant women is not just about negotiating their identities within the family. For second-generation women, it is also about negotiating their identities within their families as well as the community and the larger society (Handa, 2003; Gupta, 1999). Therefore, second-generation Indian Canadian women are engaged in a complex negotiation with different layers of their identity. Third Space Handa (2003) suggests that second generation “South Asian” women are living in a third space of subjectivity. She states that “South Asian women’s identities are also displaced by the external mainstream community and conflicting understandings of what it means to be Canadian within a multicultural framework. They negotiate a third position of subjectivity, one that is neither traditionally Canadian nor South Asian, but speaks to the fluidity of categories” (p. 166). Homi Bhabha discusses the notion of “third space” extensively in his interview about this subject (see Rutherford, 1990). He states that the 16 process of cultural hybridity gives rise to something new and unrecognizable, something that has new meaning and interpretation (Rutherford, 1990). Bhabha describes this third space as hybridity in post-colonial tenns. He suggests that it is the process of the colonizer translating and transforming the identity of the colonized (or “other”) within a universal linear framework, but not succeeding in this transformation. This produces something new and unfamiliar which becomes the third space. Bhabha contends that the third space is positioned as an antidote to essentialism. He states: For me the importance of hybridity is not to be able to trace two original moments from which the third emerges, rather hybridity to me is the ‘Third Space’, which enables other positions to emerge (Rutherford, 1990, p. 211). Thus, according to Bhabha (1994) the “third space” becomes a place of ambiguity and a place where cultural meaning and identity are not fixed and unified. It is described as a place of mediation and dynamic of exchange and understanding. Based on Bhabha’s theory of third space, Gupta (1999) presents second-generation Indian women as being “cultural hybrids.” She stated that these women who sit astride more than one culture are actually occupying a third space, engaged in “the creation of yet another culture, a new story to explain the world and our participation in it, a new value system with the images and symbols that connect us to each other and to the planet”(p. 82). Das Gupta (1997) suggests that second-generation Indian women could claim their “in-betweenness” as a creative cultural space where they can create a new self identity based on their experiences of displacement. This suggestion correlates with the understanding that cultural identity is always shifting and changing. Bhatia (2002) states that we need to abandon universal models of acculturation so that we can think beyond fixed national and cultural boundaries. He states, “cultures and identity are seen as 17 mixing and moving: where here and there, past and present, self and other are constantly being negotiated with each other” (2002, p. 72). Living in this “third space” can be complex, especially in a multicultural society which is racialized and divided. Added to this complexity of identity is another dimension: the social worker identity. Culturally Competent Practice Much of the literature on social worker identity focuses on the psychological processes of understanding ourselves in managing anxiety or coping with the pressures of the job. However, scholars have argued that there is more to understanding our roles as social workers (Yan, 2005; Yan & Wong, 2005; Wong et al., 2003). It is important to acknowledge this gap in social work practice. We need to understand how our self- identity influences the interaction that we have with clients. As Miehls and Moffatt state, “when the self is understood as a social reality, the identity of the social worker becomes linked to the subjectivity of the person” (2000, p. 342). In the traditional cultural competence model of social work, it is assumed that the social worker is able to be a neutral agent in the interaction with a client (Yan & Wong, 2005). This assumption is based on the distinct separation of the social worker and the client, each having his or her own “cultures” but where the social worker can professionally control her cultural influences in the interaction. The cultural competence model assumes that, if the social worker is “culturally aware,” she will be able to break through cultural barriers and effectively practice cross-culturally. Yan (2005) points out that “the discourse on cultural awareness thus tends to simplify the relationship between social workers and their own cultures merely to a filtering process through which the 18 influence of their culture can be blocked from affecting their engagement with clients from different cultures” (p. 6). As Yan and Wong (2005) point out, the social worker’s culture is complex and will influence the interaction. In her article, Kondrat (1999) contends that there are three levels of self-awareness for a social work practitioner. The first is simple conscious awareness, which is explained as being present to one’s surroundings and experiences. The second is reflective self-awareness, the awareness focused on the self from a distance. There is a distance created between the knower and the known in this level, which allows for reflection. The third level of self-awareness is reflexive awareness. This type of self-awareness is one in which the self is in relation to others and self-definition and awareness can only occur through these relations. Yan and Wong (2005) argue that simple conscious awareness and reflective self-awareness often govern the discourse of cultural competence. They propose a notion of social work practice with the dialogic self as the focus. This dialogic self is on a par with the concept of reflexive awareness that Kondrat mentions. Yan and Wong define the dialogic self as being “an ongoing and fluid co creation through intersubjective dialogue with others” (2005, p. 182). They state that a person’s self-understanding of reality is through the interactive coexistence with another person. This allows us to contextualize the experience and understand our own culture through a relational process. Yan and Wong state, “both worker and client are subjected to similar immediate contextual influences, but from different social positions and with different experiential and cultural perspectives. An intersubjective reflection is a dialogic process in which both worker and client interactively negotiate, understand, and reflect 19 on their cultures with reference to their understanding of the problem presented by the client” (2005, p. 186). An identity such as race, which is understood to be socially constructed, can become a site of reflection, in which the social worker learns about herself in relation to the other person she is working with (Miehls & Moffatt, 2000). Yet, as Yan (2005) points out, studies on social workers’ own ethno-racial identities and the effects on social work practice is under-researched. This issue is especially critical for the second-generation “visible minority” social workers who may struggle with their personal and professional self-understanding of their own culture and race in relation to their practice. In the social work literature, when minority practitioners are discussed, it is usually assumed that they are working only with clients from the same ethnic or racial group (Wong et al., 2003). The social workers are presumed to be culturally competent because they “know” about “the” culture. Wong et al. argue that this assumption is linked to the idea that culture is static and monolithic and fails to recognize difference within a cultural or ethnic community. More importantly, this assumption also imposes a great challenge to the second generation of ethno-racial minorities, more specifically to the Indian Canadian women of this study, who may or may not identify with their culture. Therefore, without empirically investigating this assumption, it is doubtful whether this matching practice is appropriate or more critical if it might reinforce an essentalization of culture and the traditional static notion of cultural competence. 20 Child Protection Service and Professional Power The field of social work is vastly diverse; social workers are employed in many different areas and different agencies. Informed by my own professional experience, child protection social work is the focus of this study. Child protection is a dominant sphere in social work, and the structure of child protection work is significant. In child protection work specifically, the decision-making practices are based on a White European-American culture. Marlee Kline (2000) states that child welfare laws are implicitly racist and sexist because the idea of “good mothering” versus “bad mothering” has been defined and labeled by dominant, white, middle-class women. This ideology has become an inherent part of the child welfare system in Canada which has wreaked havoc on First Nations communities. The child welfare system of Canada is said to be an agent of colonization, especially for Aboriginal communities. Das Gupta (1995) describes three aspects of this colonial relationship: “the lack of decision making power in the Native community, the devaluation of Native parenting and child welfare practices, and the nature of interaction between Native and non-Native societies that reproduces the subordination of the former and the domination of the latter...” (p. 218). Until recently the assumption was that most child protection social workers were white practitioners, whereas the clients were mostly from “ethnic minority” cultures. But as a result of the shift of the racial and cultural identity of the practitioners, more women of colour practitioners are in the child protection field. It is argued that women of colour practitioners may be psychologically and spiritually harmed by having to impose sexist and racist policies and practices on other women of colour (Woldeguiorguis, 2003). Child protection social workers hold a great deal of power in the system; therefore, it seems to 21 be extremely important that they understand their own social locations and how these locations, vis-à-vis their various identities, may influence their work. In sum, the understanding of cultural identity for second-generation women is complex because they are born in Canada, yet they are racialized and defined as visible minorities by the state. The multiculturalism policy in Canada has been said to contribute to this by concentrating on the race of individuals and thus marginalizing them. The literature has not focused enough on how immigration, acculturation, and multiculturalism have affected the experiences of second-generation women. This lack of focus is significant to child protection social work practice, a field in which many practitioners are now second-generation visible minority women who work with people from racial and cultural backgrounds other than their own. To fill the gap in this existing literature, it is important to explore how all these different identities are interrelated and how they influence the social work practice of second-generation visible minority social workers. I am South Asian, female, second generation, and a social worker. Therefore, this study explores how second-generation South Asian women have constructed their own individual identities and how this is connected to their position of being a social worker. Ending with the research question, How do South Asian women social workers understand their own racial and cultural identity in relation to their social work practice? this study explores the participants’ multiple layers of identity including gender, race, and culture and how they influence the way these participants understand themselves and practice as social workers. 22 METHODOLOGY Due to my personal interest and experience and the fact that women are the key force in the social work profession, this exploratory study is focused on women. Therefore, the research process was informed by a feminist perspective. Acker, Barry, and Esseveld (1996, p. 64) discuss three principles of feminist research before beginning research: 1. The goal should be to contribute to women’s liberation through the production of knowledge that the women can use themselves. 2. The methods of gaining this knowledge should not be oppressive. 3. We should continually develop the feminist critical perspective that questions both the dominant intellectual traditions and reflects on its own development. I strived to give the women who participated in this study an opportunity to share their stories. This study is of particular personal value for me because I do identify with my Indian culture and race. Therefore, I tried to be critically reflexive in creating an environment in which these second-generation Indian women were able to talk freely and openly about their understanding of racial and cultural identity and the ways that it affects their practice. I am cognizant that men may have similar or different experiences of identity, but the experiences of men were not part of my research. I am also aware that the experiences were different for each woman who participated in this study. During the research process I tried to encourage different voices to be heard from each woman’s own perspective. 23 As I interviewed Indian women social workers, I was interested in understanding how they perceive themselves and how that perception affected their practice. To allow a flexible and in-depth exploration, this study used a qualitative research approach. Maxwell (2005) discusses how a qualitative study allows for an understanding of the participants’ reality. He states that a qualitative study allows the researcher to make sense of “not only the events and behaviours that take place, but how the participants make sense of these and how that understanding influences their behaviours” (p. 22). In the process of this study, I felt that each of the participants was able to share her understanding and ideas of race and cultural identity. This topic is personally close to me, and I am aware that this may have affected the information that I gathered. Therefore, I was aware of my own bias in the way that I presented the research question and the way I recruited the participants. When women are researching women, the relationship between participant and researcher is easily made visible through the dialogue that occurs. “Women studying women reveals the complex ways in which women as objects of knowledge reflect back upon women as subjects of knowledge. Knowledge of the other and knowledge of the self are mutually informing because self and other share a common condition of being women” (Westkott, 1979 as cited in Acker et al., 1996). Because I interviewed other South Asian women, I was aware of the dynamics of these relationships. I may have presumed to “know” certain things about their experiences which may have restricted my ability to hear; however, I was conscious of my own assumptions, interpretations, and goals. As Maxwell (2005) states, “it is necessary to be aware of these [personal] goals and how they may be shaping 24 your research, and to think about how best to achieve them and to deal with their influence” (p. 19). Sampling I interviewed second-generation Indian women who were practising or had practised as child protection workers. Second generation in this study is defined as born in Canada of foreign-born parents. Following this definition, participants recruited and interviewed in this study were all born in Canada, and the parents of five of the participants were born outside of Canada. Preeti’s situation was unique in that her father was born in Canada, and her mother was born in India. She could actually be considered a third- or fourth-generation South Asian woman from her father’s side but second- generation Canadian from her mother’s side. This could essentially complicate the definition of different generations, but for this study, I have considered her as second generation. I focused on child protection social work in this study for two reasons. The first is that I worked as a child protection worker for two years, and I began to question my own social location as a second-generation Indian woman in relation to my practice at this time. The second is that the dominance of the child protection system is significant. In child protection work specifically, the decision-making practices are based on a White European-American culture. Initially the assumption was that most child protection social workers were white practitioners, whereas the clients were mostly from “ethnic minority” cultures. Now, however, more women of colour practitioners are in the child protection field. 25 A total of six women who self-identified as being of Indian descent took part in this study. They were recruited through a purposive snowball sampling strategy, which is an approach to gathering information from information-rich key persons. I began the snowballing process by asking friends and colleagues who might know people meeting my criteria (Patton, 2002). I recruited participants through my own social and professional network through recruitment email (see Appendix A). Recipients of this email were encouraged to pass it on to other women who fit the criteria of this study. I was aware that recruiting people from my social or professional network could be problematic because of the relationship that I already had with these people. However, I believe that using this personal strategy of recruitment rather than an impersonal strategy allowed me to gain a richer amount of data and draw on a feminist perspective in the research process (Guerrero, 1999a as cited in Patton, 2002). In order to generate more rich information, initially I requested that the participants had worked in the child protection system for at least two years. I believe that two or more years of working as a child protection social worker is enough time to have been presented with the challenges of the job and to understand some of challenges of self-identity in relation to practice. Five participants met these criteria. However, I accepted one exception, Rita, who was a new social worker in training with the Ministry of Children and Family Development at the time of the interview. I thought it would be important to include her in this study because 1) she was interested in and keen on participating, and 2) because her experience provided a diverse and comparative perspective for the understanding of the research question. I was looking for any 26 difference between her and the other five participants; however, her experience turned out to be in line with the experiences of the other five participants. Four of the participants hold the degree of Bachelor of Social Work. Anita and Poonam have a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care and have been practising as child protection workers for eight and nine years respectively. The Ministry of Children and Family Development in British Columbia hires individuals with a Bachelor of Social Work degrees as well as Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care. Considering the similarity of their personal experience and the nature of the job with that of the other participants, although they were not trained in social work, both of these women were invited to participate in this study. In the analysis, I did not find any major difference or discrepancy in perspective between them and the others. Data Collection I used a semi-structured interview format for this study. Using this type of interview allows for a two-way conversational sort of interview, in which certain areas could be discussed more in depth if the opportunity arose. Semi-structured interviews allow flexibility for both the participant and the researcher. For women this is especially important so that their own words can be heard (Reinharz, 1992). I used an interview guide (see Appendix C) with a rough idea of what I would like to gain information about but left it open to the participants to add questions or information that may have been overlooked. After the first interview, I realized that a few more questions needed to be added to gain more in-depth information. The interview guide was revised accordingly (see Appendix D). 27 I began each interview by sharing a part of my own story and explaining why I was conducting this research. My intention for doing so was to create a sense of connectedness between the participants and me as a researcher (Patton, 2002). I think it was important for the participants to know where I was coming from; however, at the same time, I was aware that this might influence the information they shared with me. Concluding from my experience of interviewing them, I felt that sharing my story helped me to gain a richer amount of information from these women’s own experiences and stories. I presented the consent form (see Appendix B) to participants before the interviews so that I could ensure confidentiality in the research process as well as their right to quit the study at any time they wished. I audiotaped and transcribed the interviews. The interviews took place at a location of each participant’s choosing. In many cases this was in the participant’s home. On two occasions, the interviews took place in public places (a coffee shop and a restaurant). I tried to ensure all the locations were relatively quiet so that we were able to carry on a conversation and were able to audiotape. However, because the interviews took place in a home, there were often pauses and breaks due to interruptions by family members or domestic matters that needed to be taken care of. Data Analysis Cresswell (2007) describes the data analysis process as having three stages: organizing the data, coding the data and condensing codes, and presenting the data in a discussion. The data analysis of this study began immediately when the interviews began. 28 I wrote notes after each interview. After transcribing, I read over each transcript several times before breaking it up. This process was important so that I could be immersed in the data. Maxwell (2005) states the importance of memos by saying, “memos not only capture your analytic thinking about your data, but also facilitate such thinking, stimulating analytic insights” (p. 96). I kept notes in the margins of the transcripts and memos along with each transcript, a practice that proved helpful for me in the analysis process. In this study I followed the analysis process informed by the grounded theory approach, which involves immersion in the data and repeatedly sorting, coding, and comparing (Morrow & Smith, 1995). I began this inductive approach with open coding, a process of breaking down, examining, comparing, conceptualizing, and categorizing data. Open coding includes labeling concepts that emerge from the participant’s actual words, phrases, or sentences. A few of the notable open codes in this study included concepts of Indian, Canadian, women, and racism. There were many concepts at this point, but they were inductively reduced to as few categories as possible (Creswell, 2007; Maxwell, 2005; Patton, 2002): identity, immigration, gender, and difference. The next step was axial coding, which involved making connections between categories, and identifying how these were related (i.e., being ethnic and female, culture and difference, personal identity and professional identity). The final step was selective coding, the process of selecting the core category on which my final analysis was based. The basis of a grounded theory approach is to sort codes and categories repeatedly, and compare and contrast until saturated, until all of the data were accounted for (Creswell, 2007). 29 Trustworthiness Building truth value to a research project is essential for it to make a contribution to human knowledge. Erlandson, Harris, Skipper, and Allen (1993) state that “trustworthiness is established by the use of techniques that provide truth value through credibility, applicability through transferability, consistency through dependability, and neutrality through confirmability” (p. 132). In this study, my experience of working as a child protection worker helped me to explain the act of “pursuing interpretations in different ways in conjunction with a process of constant and tentative analysis” (Erlandson et al., 1993, P. 31). Throughout this study I reflexively asked questions about the data, such as 1) What is actually happening here? 2) What are these data telling me? 3) Is this related to the research question and how? Lincoln and Guba (1985) describe the process of peer debriefing as “exposing oneself to a disinterested peer in a manner paralleling an analytic session and for the purpose of exploring aspects of the inquiry that might otherwise remain only implicit within the inquirer’s mind” (p. 308). Throughout the analysis process, I met regularly with my supervisor to summarize the status of the research and to identify any emerging issues or concerns. I also shared my process of inquiry with people who are social workers but were not involved in this study. This process allowed me to gather insight and feedback from those who were removed from this research. These people were either social work students with whom I studied or social workers with whom I am employed. When sharing stories, confidentiality was maintained and names of participants were not disclosed. The feedback helped me to refine and redirect the process of research as 30 needed. I am aware that I could have misinterpreted the data in this study because of my own biases and assumptions, so member checking was important. After this coding process was completed, I invited participants to provide feedback to the preliminary analysis if they chose. Two of the participants asked to review their transcripts, which were provided for them; however, they did not provide any feedback. Transferability and dependability are the next steps in establishing trustworthiness. I provide a brief profile of each participant, so that readers can make their own judgment of the context of this study. Also, using a thick description technique, I have provided extensive quotations abstracted from the transcript to illustrate my observations. This will enable readers to determine whether the findings are transferrable because of some shared characteristics of the participants. Dependability can be confirmed in this study through the process of providing a trail of documentation such as interview notes and daily journal notes. I made sure to keep a running account of the process of this study, and the journal was useful for me to understand my own biases and assumptions in this study (Erlandson et a!., 1993; Lincoln and Guba, 1985). Erlandson et al. (1993) suggest that a reflexive journal supports not only the credibility but also the transferability, dependability, and confirmability of a study. Limitations There are a few limitations in the present study. As an exploratory study with a very small sample of Indian-Canadian women living in British Columbia, the findings do not represent the whole population of second-generation women. The social work experiences of these participants are diverse but not generalizable to all social workers. 2 Thus the findings of this study can in no way be a generalization or representation of all social workers who may share similar ethno-racial and generational characteristics of these six participants in Canada. It is also important to note that by no means does this study intend to essentialize the cultural identity of first-generation immigrant women. This discussion was beyond this study but is important to take into consideration, and I acknowledge that I focused only on the cultural identity of the second generation. There are many areas of identity that I did not focus on, such as class, sexuality, ability/disability, and mental health. These additional identities are significant sites that would intersect with the ethno-racial identity and likely have an important influence on the way individuals see themselves. However, these identities were not made salient in this study. 32 FINDINGS To answer the research question of how Indian women social workers understand their own racial and cultural identity in relation to their social work practice, this study has gained some understanding into how the multiple layers of identity, including race, culture, and gender, influenced the way these women understood themselves and their practice as social workers. There are at least four major themes that I found in this study: 1. The Ethnicized Female 2. Being Culturally Different 3. Personalizing Professional Identity 4. The Context of Social Work: Negotiating Identities Following a brief introduction of the participants, I present these findings in greater detail using quotations from the participants to highlight major points. THE PARTICIPANTS Six female social workers were interviewed in this study. As shown in Table 1, the participants ranged from age 27 to 33. All participants reported that their family roots are in India. Five of them identified culturally as Punj abi and one as Fij ian. Parents of most of the participants had been in Canada from 30 to 40 years. All participants were second generation, which in this study is defined as individuals born in Canada and have either one parent or both who are first-generation immigrants. Five of the participants were born in British Columbia and one in Alberta. They were all practising or had once practised as child protection social workers at the time of the interviews. All except one had practised for two or more years. 33 Table 1. Profile of the Participants Name* Age Participant’s Parents’ Cultural Degrees/Level Years Birthplace Birthplace Background of Education* as Social Worker Sonia 29 BC India Punjabi BSW 5 Poonam 31 BC India Punjabi BA (CYC) 9 Anita 31 BC India Punjabi BA (CYC) 8 Tina 33 BC India Punjabi BSW 9 Preeti 27 BC India/Canada Punjabi BSW 3 Rita 27 AB Fiji Fijian BSW In training * The psuedonyms were given randomly by the researcher. * BSW: Bachelor of Social Work * BA (CYC): Bachelor of Arts with a major in Child and Youth Care Individual Profiles The findings (reported later) are aggregated experiences of these six participants. Although the story of each individual is highlighted in the quotations, it is important to present a brief profile to ground these fragmented quotations to the story of each individual. Sonia was 29 years old at the time of the interview. She was born in British Columbia. Sonia’s father immigrated to Canada from India, and her mother joined him after they were married. Sonia’s father and mother had been in Canada for about 40 and 36 years respectively. Sonia holds a BSW and had practised child protection social work in Canada with the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) for a number of years. She was living in the United Kingdom (UK) and practising child protection social work there at the time of the interview. She reflected on these experiences and, 34 referred to her current practice in the UK as well as her previous practice in Canada. She identified herself as Indo-Canadian and deemed it especially important to connect to the Canadian part of her identity, because she was not living in Canada at the time of the interview. Sonia was of the opinion that her ethno-racial identity had influenced her social work practice mainly in the way that she is able to relate to minority clients better because she is a member of an ethnic minority herself. Poonam was 31 years old and born in British Columbia. Her parents were born in Punjab, India. Her father arrived in Canada first and then her mother joined him after their marriage. Poonam’s father and mother had been in Canada for 38 and 33 years respectively. She has a BA (CYC) and was practising as a child protection worker at the time of the interview. Poonam identified herself as Indo-Canadian because she felt equally connected to the Indian culture and the Canadian culture. As a social worker, Poonam worked mainly with Indian individuals and families. She said she was it was important to acknowledge her own experiences and how they related to her clients’ experiences, but at the same time her job to protect children was most important. Anita was 31 years old and born in British Columbia. Both parents were born in Punjab, India, and moved here about 35 years ago. Also having graduated with a BA (CYC) degree, she had been practising as a child protection worker in the Lower Mainland for eight years. Anita self-identified as Indian and related strongly to the Indian culture. She felt her Indian heritage was very important to her identity and to her social work practice. She believed that her understanding of her cultural and racial identity shaped the way she perceived her clients and their situations. She believed her own 35 experiences allowed her to relate to her immigrant clients in a more sensitive way than to her white Canadian clients. Tina was 33 years old. She was born on Vancouver Island, but her family later moved to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Both Tina’s parents were born in Punjab, India, and had been in Canada for approximately 35 years. Tina graduated with a BSW degree and had practised as a social worker for the MCFD for roughly nine years. At the time of the interview, Tina was no longer working for MCFD. She identified herself as Indian but did not feel an attachment to the Indian culture. She stated that she identified more with the Canadian culture and felt more comfortable with the Canadian side of her upbringing. In the interview, she said she felt more “Canadian” than “Indian.” Tina also did not believe that her race or cultural identity had a significant influence on her social work practice. Also born in BC, Preeti was 27 years old. Different from the other participants, Preeti’s father was born in Canada, and her mother was born in India and immigrated to Canada after marrying her father about 33 years ago. Preeti graduated with a B SW degree and had practised as a child protection worker for three years. She had practised in the UK, as well as in Ontario and British Columbia. Preeti stated that she grew up not relating to the Indian culture and identified more with the Canadian culture because her family was very “westernized.” As she grew older, Preeti felt she wanted to learn more about Indian customs, traditions, values, and beliefs, although she struggled with identifying as primarily Indian or primarily Canadian. Preeti believed she was beginning to understand how her cultural background and racial identity influenced her social work 36 practice. She said that, over time as a social worker, she became more sensitive and aware of different issues within different cultural communities. Rita was 27 years old and born in Alberta. Rita’s parents were born in Fiji, but their ancestry was Indian. Her parents had been in Canada for roughly 30 years. She had recently moved to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia to begin working with the MCFD. Rita was a new social worker who was training with the MCFD at the time of the interview. Even though she did not have two years of work experience, she was included in this study to allow for a different perspective. Rita identified herself as Fij ian Indian and related strongly to the Indian culture. However, whereas other participants related to a Punjabi background, Rita connected with the Fijian culture. Generally she seemed to believe that the Fijian culture was somewhat more liberal and less conservative than the Punjabi culture, especially in regards to gender roles. The diversity within this group is significant to this study. This research looked at a small population of second-generation South Asian women who could have been considered to be the same in identity and experience. However, as the interviews were conducted and the analysis began, this proved not to be true and pushed me to challenge my essentialist perspective. This is important to the findings that I am presenting below. Even though there were some similarities, each woman had her own unique background and way of identifying herself. All of the women were born in Canada, hence second generation, and they identified their ancestral and cultural roots as being Indian. All participants connected to their parents’ experience of immigration and believed that those experiences had shaped the understanding of their cultural and racial identity as Indian women in Canada. The participants were different in the ways they identified themselves 37 and how they related to their racial or cultural identity. Some related to their race and culture quite strongly; others did not. A couple of the participants said they grew up feeling very “westernized” and though they were exposed to the Indian culture, they chose not to participate in it. Taking these similarities and differences into consideration, the four major themes noted above were identified in answering the research question. THE ETHNICIZED FEMALE Being Indian, female, and social workers were identities that could not be separated but rather intersected to shape the experiences of the participants in their personal as well as professional lives. The intersection of these factors was complex and important to the way they identified themselves. The complexity was not only caused by how these women identified themselves but also by how they believed others perceived them. The negotiation of these two different perspectives is deemed important to their self-identity. Conflation of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity All participants were asked how they identified themselves by race, culture, and ethnicity. Many of the responses were very similar, which gives the impression that, to many of the participants, these terms mean the same thing. What do you mean by ethnicity? I think it is different from culture, but I don’t know how to explain it. I probably clearly don’t know what the difference is... (Preeti) For me, race and ethnicity are kind of the same thing, I would just say Indo Canadian; South Asian is what I would say my ethnicity is... (Poonam) 38 In explaining race, rather than point to their skin colour, most of the participants referred to ethnic labels such as “Indian,” “Indian in Canada,”, or “East Indian,” which represented their ancestry as being from India. In terms of race, I would consider myself as Indian... (Rita) I think the race is Indian.. .If it’s a question of race, I would probably say I’m Indian, but otherwise I would say I’m Canadian. . . When people do ask, I say from Canada. . . location and culture—Canada... (Tina) Along with these ethnic labels, two of the participants also used the term “brown” in their interviews. I don’t know what’s right, but I guess the way I’ve grown up, Indo-Canadian, Indian, or just brown (Preeti) I can’t relate to my brown friends, and even my parents can’t relate to other Indian people... (Tina) Tina did not use “brown” to identify herself, but she used the term quite frequently throughout the interview. These participants did not expand on the term “brown”; however, it seemed to be used interchangeably with race and culture. Between the Indian culture and the Canadian culture, each participant seemed to have different degrees of adherence. Most participants tended to identify first with the Indian culture and then with the Canadian culture. Some even emphasized their Indian culture over the Canadian culture. For instance, when asked how she identified herself by culture, Anita said, Punjabi. . .from the Punjabi culture.. .in the bigger picture from the Indian culture.. .and then that in the context of the Canadian culture... (Anita) However, a few participants struggled with which culture to identify with. I always have a struggle with this because the term Indo-Canadian.. .1 don’t know if I’m Indian first or Canadian first.. .so it’s like a personal thing I haven’t understood about myself yet. . . (Preeti) 39 See... I see myself as Canadian but also Indian... (Poonam) It was important for Sonia to emphasize her Canadian upbringing as well as her Indian culture, because she was living outside of Canada. I identify myself as being Indo-Canadian, and the reason for that is because of my Indian heritage and my Canadian upbringing and because I’m not living in this country at this time. It complicates things, so if I was to identify myself as South Asian or just Indian or just Canadian, I don’t think that would allow people to get a full.. .they won’t get a full understanding of who I am.. .so I think Indo Canadian... (Sonia) In identifying themselves, the participants often used the same terms for their race, culture, and ethnicity, a practice that became somewhat confusing. There was no clear differentiation among the concepts. Negotiating the Ethnic Label The conflation of these terms also led to confusion about the many different labels used for identifying individuals living in Canada with ancestry from India. Some of these labels are “Indo-Canadian,” “Indian,” “South Asian,” and “East Indian.” To most of the participants, their ancestral roots seemed to be a critical dimension of how they defined themselves. Therefore, they favoured the term “Indian” to signify their roots and ancestry as being from India. I think of my heritage and for me is from India, where my ancestors came from, where my parents came from, about traditions and values I’ve been raised with... (Sonia) My parents were both born in India; however, I was born in British Columbia. . .1 think Indo-Canadian is how I used to refer to myself. Now I refer to myself as Indian, not even South Asian. (Tina) 40 “South Asian” seemed to be the least preferred label for these participants. Judging from how Preeti and Poonam perceived it, to a large extent “South Asian” is a recently politically correct label that had been imposed on them and was not necessarily what they wanted to accept. Well it means Indian, but it seems like the Canadian word for Indian people for me.. .1 would say Indian because South Asian is too broad.. .like that could be Sri Lanka, Pakistan, that could be anywhere.. .Indian narrows it down... (Anita) I think a lot of it is really political. . . It’s during whatever time, whatever government is in, it’s political.. .At one point it’s handicapped, another time it’s disabled, then it’s something else... I don’t think I would identify myself as South Asian. . .1 would use Indo-Canadian... (Sonia) Rita was the oniy one who actually preferred the label South Asian over other labels because she felt that the broadness of the term encompassed all cultures, so it was inclusive rather than divisive. I like the term because it puts all of the Indian culture together as a whole, and it is such a multicultural society in itself and there are so many different groups of Indian people living in Canada, and just being coined terms like Indo-Canadian or Fijian creates so much separation, whereas South Asian just seems to involve and invite and encompass everybody... (Rita) The participants seemed to identify themselves in one way, but other people perceived them in another way. The participants spoke at length about how others perceived them, which often was not the way they identified themselves. Although I’ve been born and raised in Canada and I am Canadian, I don’t think my values reflect that of a “typical Canadian”.. .the average Canadian that people may picture in their heads... (Sofia) I think it has a lot to do with other people’s perception that I’m “whitewashed”.. .1 didn’t really grow up very Indian-ly cultured. My parents are very Western. I do refer to myself as Indo-Canadian. . .but when I was younger, it was more the way other people viewed me and my family... (Preeti) 41 The participants spoke about various ways of dealing with other people’s perceptions, which ranged from educating to ignoring. Sonia felt that she could educate other people, whereas Poonam’s perspective was that other people “just did not know” and were making assumptions based on lack of knowledge. I’ve learned that it is just an assumption, and of course when it’s used it’s derogatory. Of course it’s to hurt you, but a lot of them just don’t know. They make an assumption that you look different, you are not from here, when did you come here.. .that kind of a thing... (Poonam) Preeti chose to ignore these perceptions. I don’t really care how other people view me. . . but I do think other people are more lenient because they know that my dad was born and raised here, so we have both influences in our lives... (Preeti) Using these various ways to manage other people’s perceptions appeared to be an important method of negotiating their own self-identity as well as other people’s perceptions. Being able to negotiate this identity was critical for the participants to feel comfortable with their self-identity. Being an Indian Woman Gender was an important piece of self-identity in this study. The participants stated that their gender influenced how they understood the Indian culture and the Canadian culture. Some participants believed there were discrepancies in the way men and women are treated generally within the Indian community. These beliefs seemed to have affected the way they understood their self-identity as Indian women. There are underlying tones in the Fijian community, but it is not as pronounced as I see in the Indian community.. .In general, it’s noticeably different in the Fijian community.. .not to say it’s eradicated.. .not at all; you do still see the inequality, especially with the oppression of women; it’s just not to the same extent... (Rita) 42 In relation to being Indian, definitely there are times where I feel my gender is at a disadvantage... (Sonia) Some of the participants spoke of the concept of a “traditional Indian girl.” This idea was not clearly defined by any of the participants, but it was implied to be a somewhat passive, subordinate, and perhaps negative way to be. This appeared to be defined in contrast to the idea of a “Canadian” woman. It was implied by some of the participants that that being independent and assertive were contradictory characteristics to those of a “traditional Indian girl.” It’s difficult because my family is so mixed. Like I’m female, but not traditional Indian female.. .1 think I’m outside of that just ‘cuz I’m really independent, I speak my mind. I was the first in my family to move away, lived on my own, moved out of the country. . . crossed all the borders of I guess what typically an Indian girl should be... (Preeti) Being independent and assertive seemed to be characteristics of a “Canadian” woman, which were distinct from and dissimilar to the characteristics of an “Indian” woman. For instance, from Preeti’s perspective, because her family is more “westernized” and “Canadian,” she was able to “get away with” certain things and able to challenge these inequalities at times. I think other people are more lenient with us because my dad was born here, so we have both influences in our lives. . . whereas a girl who was born here, but her parents are more traditional, I think it would be viewed differently... (Preeti) The participants seemed to have two separate concepts of a “Canadian woman” and an “Indian woman,” terms that were understood as contradictory to each other. These participants were aware of these differences and how they influenced their lives, and they appeared to struggle with these differences at times. However, rather than be confused about the two culturally separate gender roles, the participants seemed to be able to integrate them. Living in Canada as second-generation Indian women, they seemed to 43 have to found ways to negotiate how to be Indian and Canadian women at the same time. This negotiation also appeared to greatly influence their social work practice. This will become evident when the practice issues are presented in this chapter. BEING CULTURALLY DIFFERENT As second-generation Indian women living in Canada, cultural difference was a significant aspect of the lives of these participants. As mentioned, most of the women in this study said they felt there were culturally different gender expectations as they were growing up. The different expectations of being a woman in the Indian culture and the Canadian culture seemed to push them to live a double life, which they found challenging at times. However, when they reached young adulthood, most of them said they found strategies to balance living in two different cultures. We’ve been born and raised in Canada and have this Canadian upbringing.. .We’ve had the best of both the East and West... (Sonia) When discussing the cultural differences, the participants tended to ground their stories in their personal experience of both the multiculturalism discourse and the racist actualities of being “visible minorities” in Canada. They reflected on how these experiences affected the understanding they had of their ethno-racial identity. Living a Double Life Some of the participants experienced living a “double life,” which meant they were living in two different cultures, separate from each other. They were Indian at home and Canadian outside of the home, with “one foot in the Indian culture, the other in the 44 Canadian culture.” The participants said their lifestyles were notably different when at home and when not at home. These differences included language, food, and clothing. I would go to school and be living straight Canadian, trying to be like the white kids, wanting to eat what they ate, wear what they wore, wanting to attend functions such as sleepovers, but then I would come home to a home that was strictly Indian, Indian food three meals, parents wanting you to wear Indian clothes at home... (Sonia) I felt like I was living a double life, like I was even embarrassed if we went to the temple and I was in an Indian outfit and my mom wanted to go shopping after, I want to go home and change because I didn’t want to be seen in that. . .1 was the Indian girl at home and we were told to mostly speak Punjabi at home, and then going to school, I was one of those teens, I didn’t speak Punjabi at school; it was strictly English... (Poonam) Often the participants were embarrassed about their Indian culture or Indian way of life when outside of home. I think I became really angry with my own parents... Why can’t you try a bit harder to fit in? Why do you have to be different?.. .And I hated the way I looked and stuff like that... (Poonam) When I was younger it was something I tried to hide.. .I’d be more embarrassed to wear Indian suits... Oh what are they going to think... (Anita) Anita stated that she was embarrassed about her Indian culture and she believed “White” people had such a different lifestyle. For this reason, she also appeared to experience a double life when she was younger. I was aware that our lives were probably so different. . .that they are white and I am not. . . and their lifestyle is completely different from mine and I’m not going to even try living their lifestyle... (Anita) Many of the participants spoke of living a double life when they were younger, which seemed to be attributed to having to hide their Indian culture when not at home. Most participants said that, with age, they became proud of being “Indian” outside of the home. The reason was that, as they grew older, they better understood the Indian culture 45 and the Canadian culture. They believed that they did not have to hide their Indian culture any longer, and they learned how they could merge the two cultures. As I get older, I think I should be proud. . .1 speak another language. Why do I need to hide the fact? (Anita) It wasn’t until I entered college where my two worlds collided. . .1 think that was a really good thing for me because if that hadn’t happened, the people who still consider me to be more Canadian would probably be right, but it was when I was about 17 years old, when I entered college and I met so many other people who were living like me, with one foot in one culture and the other one in another culture... (Sonia) As a result of age, they seemed to be able to find ways to balance the differences in these cultures inside and outside of the home. They were able to integrate the Indian culture and Canadian culture in different aspects of their lives. However, there was one exception. Tina said she was still not comfortable with her Indian culture because she did not relate to it as much as she did to the “White Canadian” culture. I know that my life has been very compartmentalized. I had to be.. .well not had to be, but I’ve been Indian at home, but not necessarily in the community with my friends, at school, at work. But I relate more to people who are white.. .1 don’t relate to... I’m so uncomfortable at brown functions that I don’t go.. .1 haven’t been to a brown function in years... (Tina) Aside from Tina, many of these women credited the possibility of being able to merge the Indian and Canadian cultures comfortably to the multiculturalism atmosphere in Canada. Multiculturalism: Truth or Deception? Many participants said that multiculturalism, which they believed was unique to Canada, allowed them to be Indian and Canadian at the same time. These women 46 believed that multiculturalism in Canada meant that they could hold on to their own cultural heritage and enjoy cultural freedom. It’s supposed to mean that everyone here is recognized, that everyone is treated equal, and everyone is diverse and let’s celebrate the diversity, all the different people living here... (Preeti) Other countries don’t usually have such a mixture of people from different backgrounds. . . different countries. . . so visibly different. . . like Chinese, Indian, Aboriginal, Caucasian, Black, Spanish, Mexican.. .it’s all mixed.. .And I think up to this point people have maintained their own culture and heritage.., and we encourage everyone to celebrate their multiculturalism... (Anita) Some of the participants believed that because of its multiculturalism policy, Canada was an ideal country to immigrate to. We are a country that attracts lots of people from different countries and backgrounds, and we’re considered a land of opportunity and I find it to be quite accepting.. .1 look at everything down south and it’s very different. . . the melting pot.. .But in Canada, at least in BC, I see that it’s so much easier to keep who are you, that identity, and I think it’s really grown... (Poonam) I remember my parents always talking about migrating here at a time when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister and how influential it was for them, and how they saw him in particular in high regard and how accepting of minority groups and creating this diverse nation.. .so I am very proud of that fact that they chose this country to come to.. .1 think they viewed it as very positive.. .(Rita) However, despite their idea of multiculturalism being similar to that of the others, a couple of the participants seemed to find it somewhat concerning that immigrants can preserve their language and culture. Sonia believed that, as long as a “Canadian” way of life is adopted, maintaining one’s own culture and customs outside of that is acceptable. She understood multiculturalism as • . about all people, accepting people from all areas, accepting their customs, values, traditions, and embracing that. . . and not necessarily assimilating to a melting pot, but coming to a place where we all have one standard and we live in a certain way, such as when you walk down the street, you don’t litter, and you don’t urinate in public.. .all those kind of things are Canadian and we come to 47 learn and accept those, but at the same time holding fast to your ethnic background, your ethnicity, where you came from, where your heritage is, and being proud of that and celebrating it and teaching others... (Sofia) Tina believed that immigrants were able to live life without integrating into the Canadian culture or way of life. I would prefer more acceptance, maybe not acceptance, I would prefer people making more of an effort to learn about their new country. If they are moving to any country or Canada, then they should learn about it... (Tina) Sonia also believed that, because one of Canada’s national languages is English, all immigrants should have to learn English. She thought it was troublesome that some immigrants were able to get by without learning English. I think Punjabi here in Surrey is such a big one because wherever you go, you can find another person who will speak the same language. You can do your banking, you can do your grocery shopping, you can do anything. You can see an engineer, you can build a house, you don’t need to know how to speak English in this city. . . But if you took that same person for whatever reason and placed them in Manitoba, they wouldn’t survive and I think that’s unfortunate, and I think that’s about not stepping outside your comfort zone... (Sonia) All of the participants believed that, because of multiculturalism, ethnic minorities are able to uphold their culture and ways of life. Most of the participants considered this to be positive, but others deemed it to be somewhat negative. Despite the different perspectives, generally most of the participants felt that, because of multiculturalism in Canada, they were able to maintain and be proud of their Indian culture without having to hide it. In terms of multiculturalism and my own identity, I can be, I can hold on to my own identity; it’s not something that I have to hide... (Anita) It’s made me much more connected. I can be and see and behave the way I want to, the way I appreciate that has to do with my background. . . and that is really really important to me. I love that I can go out and do what I want to do... (Rita) 48 One of the participants, Preeti, said that multiculturalism actually helped her to want to know more about her Indian heritage. She said that it had helped her to learn more about her culture and religion. I think part of the multiculturalism has just helped me to learn more about our culture and religion. I want to learn and be aware of it. . .1 guess things have come such a long way for our community in the last ten, twenty years where you know, you’re not embarrassed to be brown and you embrace it and you’re proud of it... (Preeti) Although most participants believed the ideology of multiculturalism was positive, many of them believed that in reality it still has a “long way to go.” Most of the participants stated that there was an effort, but there was more that needed to happen to for Canada to become truly multicultural. They are trying. . .1 think because it’s the second generation. . . they trying so hard to hold onto their culture and a lot of the time it’s dance, music, but now they’ve introduced Punjabi into the school and I think that’s an attempt. . .people sticking their kids in Punj abi schools, parents trying to take them back to India and trying to maintain the culture. . . immigrants trying to maintain it through the second generation... (Anita) In reality, I definitely don’t think it’s happening all the time. . .1 think maybe for you and I where we don’t have an accent, we’re more educated, we were born and raised here. . . we have a different experience, but I’m sure you still experience some forms of racism.. .or towards our families.. .There’s lots of room for change, but I think there’s a good effort behind it... (Preeti) Anita and Preeti commented on the experience of multiculturalism being different for the second generation. Although the ideology of multiculturalism may allow the second generation to connect with their Indian heritage and culture, the racist reality has also negatively affected how the second generation perceives its ethno-racial identity. 49 Racialized Reality Being a “visible minority” was another key component of how these participants identified themselves. Most saw themselves as a “visible minority” because of their race. They chose to distinguish themselves from the “majority” because they believed they stood apart from White people because of their skin colour. I completely see it that way.. .That’s exactly what I am.. .1 am totally a visible minority.. .we live in a country where, what is it? . . .75% or 80% of them are White.. .and yeah of European descent.. .It’s very obvious when I look at myself with the greater community and not just me.. .1 look at an Asian person or a First Nations person or Black person.. .1 immediately go to a place of they are different from the majority, they stand out.. .you can see them.. .they are visible... (Rita) I always thought a lot of races would look different, but a lot of them look White.. .so that’s maybe our ignorance.. .if my hair was blond, I wouldn’t be so visible, but yeah I think I’m a visible minority... (Anita) However, a couple of the other participants felt that, being labeled a visible minority, they were considered outsiders and were stripped of their Canadian identity. They found this label discriminating and offensive. I don’t think we’re visible minorities.. .1 kind of have a problem with that, if it’s multiculturalism and visible minorities.. .it’s kind of like opposing each other.. .1 don’t know. . . if I was called a visible minority, I would feel kind of like an outcast and yeah I don’t belong here and all these other people who look like they belong here, I don’t think it’s a very user-friendly word.. .1 guess it kind of categorizes people in... (Preeti) I think I would have an issue saying I’m a visible minority because that then directly relates to my appearance and I don’t think I’m a minority because of my appearance. Like if you walk down the street in Surrey, I’m not the minority.. .1 think it’s my upbringing, the way I was raised, that’s the minority bit, the fact that I have two cultures... (Sonia) Because of their experiences of being a “visible minority,” most of the participants said they identified differently when they are in Canada and when they are not in Canada. At this time, I identify myself as being Indo-Canadian, and the reason for that is because of my Indian heritage and my Canadian upbringing and because I’m not 50 living in this country at this time, it complicates things. . . so if I was to identify myself as South Asian or just Indian or just Canadian, I don’t think that would allow people to get a full.. .they won’t get a full understanding of who I am, so I think Indo-Canadian is more appropriate... (Sonia) Rita clearly identified the shift in the way she identified herself when she was not in Canada. She associated the ability to shift to the multicultural context of Canada. I would definitely see myself as a Canadian when I am not here.. .in Canada, I guess you are seen as a visible minority. It’s really obvious. There’s always that question of “where are you from?. . . What’s your cultural heritage?”. . .so you connect with your cultural heritage when living here, and I’m sure it has everything to do with living in a multicultural society. . . where everybody is immigrants. . . However, when I leave the country and people ask me .. . it’s completely different.. .1 connect to the fact that I’m from Canada... (Rita) When some of the participants were outside of Canada, it seemed at that time they needed to justify being Canadian because of their skin colour. If I’m travelling somewhere, I would say I’m Canadian, but my parents are from India... it depends on the context... (Anita) These participants believed that other (non-Canadian) people had the assumption that being Canadian meant being White. One participant talked about her experience. I think the biggest shifting point was when I went to India. Being in India and having those people reject us and say well, you’re not Indian... constantly living in Canada, it’s not even living in Canada. Wherever you go, if you say, you’re a Canadian, other people will often say, well you don’t look like a Canadian, and they’ll keep prying and prying because we don’t fit the stereotypical bill... (Sonia) Many of the participants were seen as “foreign” in their own country. This placed these second-generation women in complicated positions ofjustifying their nationality because of their skin colour. Indeed, as second-generation Indian women born in Canada, 51 these experiences of racism affected the construction of their identities as Indian women and as social workers. Racism through Generations Racism was a sensitive subject in this interview. Almost all of the participants and their parents had experienced racism throughout their lives. As children, many of the participants had witnessed the racism that their parents had experienced because they were visibly different. I have my own memories of my parents, the fact that whatever they came with from India didn’t help them at all here, letting go of all their dreams, and they faced lots of abuse. I can fully recall that, when we first moved to Surrey, having our house egged on a daily basis and walking down the street with my mother and having people yell out racist comments and just not understanding... (Sofia) Listening to when they first came here, how racist it was.. .my dad, he’d have to walk, he couldn’t walk on the sidewalk. He’d have to get off the sidewalk... (Anita) These experiences deeply affected the participants. Because of their own experiences and those of their parents, they were aware that racism in Canadian society is prevalent. There may be a belief that only the first generation of immigrations faced racism; however, as indicated in the findings, second-generation individuals shared similar racist experiences. As the participants became older, they understood these experiences better. Many of the participants themselves had experienced different forms of racism. Though they were born and raised in Canada, because of their skin colour, they were also targets of racism. Recently I was walking down the street and had someone spit at me. I know it was meant for me. it could have landed on me, but it was done in a way that it just missed me.. .that kind of shook me... (Sonia) 52 I’ve had so many experiences of racism from elementary to high school because of the community I lived in. I was the only Indo-Canadian. . .It was mostly White. . . (Anita) The participants commented on how frustrating these experiences have been, but there seemed to be a sense of resignation that there will always be a level of racism directed towards them. Even though in that moment when those things happen, you deal with them.. . obviously they bring you down, and there is an immediate effect, but you can cope with it. It may dampen your day... I don’t want to say you’re used to it, because you never get used to that kind of abuse, but you get on with it... (Sonia) Interestingly, not all participants reported that they had experienced racism. Tina said she could not remember or think of a significant experience of being a target of racism. She said she had heard things or seen things that might be racist, but she did not think they had a personal effect on her. Impact me? Personally? I never really thought about it. I just feel people may make a comment, but I just ask them why they have that opinion and if I can enlighten them in some way... (Tina) These varying experiences of racism affected the way the participants understood their identity as second-generation individuals. Racism and Canadian Identity Having been born and raised in Canada legally qualified the participants as Canadian. However, being second generation of a visible minority group, many participants reported that the racial discrimination they experienced always reminded them of their “otherness” and stripped them of their Canadian identity. They were standing in their balcony, and they were swearing, calling me a Hindu and saying “go back to your country” and “how dare you come here and cause problems?”... (Poonam) 53 When I started high school, the first day I started.. .you Hindus get out of here, what are you doing in this school.. .go back to your side... (Anita) We were standing on the doorstep, and this carload of white guys drove by yelling “Paki”. . .1 think I was 23 years old at that time. It was just shocking to me that someone could yell that and just drive by... (Rita) Some of the participants spoke of their subtle and indirect racist experiences. Clients will sometimes say, “Oh Anita, I don’t want to say it to you, but the Indo Canadians or Hindus are so and so”... sometimes they will say Hindus, sometimes they’ll say Indians.. .They’ll have some comment ‘cuz they are pissed off at some landlord or some other person... (Anita) They were identified as different because of their skin colour, and for this reason they experienced racism. Some believed this racism to be intentional; others believed it was not intentional. Visibly I look different, I stand out, I look different... they know that someone came from somewhere else and so they make the assumption... and I used to think, like it really bothers me, because even people who aren’t being racist will say “oh so when are you going back to India” or else “have you been back there since you immigrated?” (Poonam) Being “visible minorities,” the participants also believed they would often be in the awkward position of having to justify or explain their culture to non-Indian people who had a negative perception. I have a Chinese friend who will talk about things that her mother has told her. . . so a Chinese mother telling her Chinese-Canadian daughter.. . don’t ever marry an Indian man because they all beat their women, and this is something this person has come to believe, and then you pick up the newspaper. People aren’t taking into consideration that if you’re picking up a Surrey paper, the majority of the population is Indian, so the majority of the news stories are about Indians, but people are going to think that’s the way Indians are... (Sonia) I almost feel like there is a negative connotation to the term Indo-Canadian, and I say that because the first time I heard that term being used was here and it’s always used in response to negativities in our community.. .so things that I would see in the news or the newspaper.. .Indo-Canadian male.. .killed due to drugs or criminal sort of thing... (Rita) 54 Their understanding of living in two different cultures, multiculturalism in Canada, visibility, and racism had shaped their understanding of belonging in Canada and their identity as second-generation Indian women. Though they were born and raised in Canada, most participants believed their race and culture set them apart so that they often had to justify being Canadian. The women in this study all stated that their experiences of being a second-generation woman of colour had significantly affected the way they understood themselves, as well as how they practised social work. Their professional identities had been shaped to a great extent by their personal experiences. PERSONALIZING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY The understanding of self-identity and difference of these women affected the way they practised social work. Their personal experiences allowed them to relate to their clients in various ways. Their experience of identity appeared to shift in different contexts and when they worked with people of different backgrounds. The six participants presented themselves as different when working with White clients, Indian clients, or clients of another race and culture. Working with Indian Clients All participants in this study had experience working with people from the South Asian or Indian community. Some of the participants believed social work as a profession was presented and perceived as being somewhat negative within the Indian community. Though this perception may have changed to an extent, as in other non-Indian communities, the perception of child protection workers was often negative because it 55 can be an intrusive job or position. The women in this study said the negativity within the Indian community was linked more to the concept of family, because social workers were seen as “breaking up a family” or “wrecking a home.” Many times within the Indian community, as may be the case in other cultural communities, many family issues are considered to be private matters. The social workers were outsiders when they involved themselves in a family matter. The way that a social worker is portrayed in the Indian community is in a negative manner as someone who is butting into other people’s business, plotting and planning, giving advice, and just breaking up families. It’s about meddling in someone else’s home and someone else’s life and it’s best to leave those things alone unless someone comes to you for help. (Sofia) Gender also seemed to play a large role in their interactions with Indian clients, particularly when the social workers were seen as interfering and trying to ruin people’s families. Working with Indo-Canadian males is a bit more challenging because they think you’re going to ruin their house, pump up their wife.. .When I started working as a new social worker, interviewing Indian males is something that made me nervous... (Anita) As some participants reported, because of their gender, age, and culture, their professional identity was sometimes hampered when they worked with Indian families. I think the thing I found most difficult was families where the male was dominant and then being a young, girl, unmarried, no children, Canadian but East Indian. . . They had a problem with me kind of being the authority figure. . .1 think that was one of the hardest things... (Preeti) In the Indian families, I went to see, if there is a husband or man involved, they sometimes tried to exert their power in an almost threatening manner... (Tina) Despite the challenges of being a female social worker in the Indian community, the women in this study stated that they were able to relate much better to their Indian 56 clients or families. These participants said that, because of the way they were raised, they could better understand the experiences of their clients. You know how families are run, like living with the in-laws, multiple families living in one house, different children having multiple caregivers. . . different roles grandparents have. All of that is just second nature to us.. .and we understand that and accept it; it’s normal, so it was easier to relate to that and the language we knew, and general religion and cultural practices and discipline, we kind of know... (Preeti) It’s never easy having a child protection worker knocking at your door when you know what they are and what they do, but it makes them feel more at ease when they’re like okay, you’re one of us, you know us and you kind of understand where we’re coming from, and I do.. .Do I always agree with them? No, but I know where some of those stereotypes or views or values kind of began or why they are very strong... (Poonam) The participants said they could relate because their own life and upbringing was often very similar to that of their clients. Poonam mentioned the term best practice in her interview. She said that most of her work was with Indian clients, because she could relate better and understand certain aspects of their culture that White social workers may not understand. It’s best practice.. .1 mean that’s my life and I know their ways and it’s for them to identify. But in a way I find it sometimes that seeing that I’m also Indian, they minimize and they don’t take things seriously, and I always wonder how they would perceive it if it was a Caucasian social worker knocking on their door... (Poonam) What is interesting is that, although the participants said they could relate better to Indian families, at the same time they felt there was usually an expectation of the clients that the Indian social worker would be more understanding, lenient, and forgiving. They expect you to understand, but sometimes they expect you to think its okay.. .but you have to tell them that’s not okay. There are certain things that are just not okay, like when you’re breaking the law, you’re breaking the law... Sometimes they think because you’re Indian, you’ll be more lenient with them... (Anita) 57 I always wonder how they would look at me, whether they would take me more seriously.. .or if they would think that I would be more lenient with them for whatever reason because I kind of relate to them. . . on a cultural, racial, and ethnic background... (Rita) In a way, they also felt that they were easily manipulated by their Indian clients. I felt a bit more manipulated by the Indian families that I went to see... (Tina) Well usually when they see I’m from the same. . . I’m also Punjabi and Sikh, they have the expectation that I will forgive and kind of forget,. . . Oh, okay, you’re here, okay, we did that.. . We won’t do it again. Just make it sound like it never happened, just write things off.. . They expect me to understand and help them in ways that I can’t. . .to manipulate the situation to make it work for them, like you’re one of us, okay we understand what you’ve said, but can you make the report look very favourable.. .and it’s surprising how often that happens... it happens very regularly. . . (Poonam) Therefore, some participants stated that they often have to be cautious in treating Indian clients the way they treat other clients. I have to ask more questions. . . of any family even if it’s a white family or even if it’s a brown family, whether I’m brown or not.. .(Tina) At the same time, they also had to remind themselves not to make any cultural assumptions. Poonam reflected on a situation when she was a new social worker in which she had made assumptions about an Indian family. It’s good that it happened right into my career as a protection worker.. .1 had to step back and let go of the thing that I’m Indian and that I understand it all because I don’t and I need to be very open-minded regardless of the type of family I’m going to go out to.. .(Poonam) Though most of the participants related better to Indian clients, they became aware of the challenges and of the importance of not making assumptions. Their experience of working with Indian clients was different from that of working with non Indian clients. 58 Working with Non-Indian Clients When working with non-Indian clients, the racial and cultural identity of the participants led to somewhat different experiences. Many of the participants stated that the way others perceive them was important to their practice because, as women of colour social workers, they understood themselves in one way, but others viewed them differently. Race, gender, and age seemed to be the intersecting factors that were prevalent in other people’s perceptions. Many participants felt it was particularly easy to work with non-Indian clients who shared some similar lived experiences. Coming from immigrant families themselves, their parents’ experiences of migration provided a resource for them to work with immigrants. What was apparent was that most of these women were aware of and connected with the struggles that their parents went through when they immigrated to Canada. We lived in a small town and they experienced a lot of racism, and it was because they were immigrants, they were different. . . so they talked about the struggles they had financially and just also being kind of isolated. . . without their families I know my dad really struggled. I think he felt a loss of identity moving over to Canada, leaving everyone in India... (Poonam) The fact that my parents, whatever they came with from India, didn’t help them at all here. And on top of that, letting go of their own dreams and they also faced lots of abuse... (Sonia) For the first generation, immigration proved to be a difficult time during which they faced many struggles and challenges. The struggles that the participants had witnessed or experienced shaped their interactions with clients. In regards to practice, one of the participants believed that understanding her parents’ immigration experience gave her a different perspective on the lives of some of her clients. 59 When I work with clients who are living in a two-bedroom basement. . . a husband, wife, three kids.. .people would say, oh that’s a concern, that’s too crowded... I’m thinking when immigrant families come, they have 20 people crowded into a basement.. .and at that time, sometimes that’s what they need to do.. .not having anything in this country and starting from the bottom up... (Anita) Some of the participants said they were able to empathize with other visible minority clients because some of their experiences were similar. They believed that being a woman of colour allowed them to understand other visible minorities in a way that they may not have been able to had they been White. Even though there were differences in culture, the fact that the social workers were not White allowed them to develop a better rapport with the clients. I’ve had a few Turkish families, and an Afghani family. I’ve realized that being who I am I have been able to relate to them or they have been able to relate to me much easier than if they had a white middle-class social worker and that’s made me reflect on it.. . the fact that being a minority I am able to work with other minorities and they don’t necessarily have to have the same heritage, background, even the same language as me... (Sonia) I actually found that Aboriginal people were more willing to talk to me than they would if I was out with a Caucasian colleague, because they felt that the Caucasian person represented the white world and the white ways, whereas with me, it was like, you understand how it is to be different and live in this society... (Poonam) As stated, when working with clients of the same race or culture, or with other minority clients, generally the perception was that the social worker understood the clients. The social worker was considered to be someone who had also experienced difference and marginalization and so could help the clients better. This experience was very different from the experience of working with White people. 60 Working with White Clients As a new social worker, Rita she said she was conscious of how White people perceived her when they met her and saw that she was a woman of colour. As a new worker with the MCFD, she always questioned what clients would think about her when they saw her. She believed that speaking to a client on the phone was a very different experience from speaking to a client in person because of the visibility. It’s just a concern of mine of how they might look at me, whether they’ll take me seriously.. .1 get worried about the racism.. .that’s another thing... even my previous job. . . the first thing I worry about when parents would see me. . . they way they would react.. . and even now working with MCFD, that’s something that goes through my head... (Rita) After a few significant racist experiences, Rita had begun to question whether most White people were racist towards her. She acknowledged that this was a general assumption; however, it was a thought that occurred each time she interacted with someone who was White. Rita said she was aware of her bias and aware that this might change as she continued practising as a social worker. Another participant believed that White people are racist when given the opportunity to be. Anita reported that, many times as a social worker, she had experienced racism in subtle rather than direct ways. Most of the racism I’ve experienced has been from White people.. .when people say there is no racism.. .given the opportunity people are racist... it’s not like it’s not there anymore. . .working now in the ministry, I don’t see any blatant racism, but sometimes people will say “oh but you people would know”. . . and there are other clients who have said to other social workers.. . We don’t want an Indian social worker... (Anita) Even Tina, who said she had never been a target of racism, spoke of a specific client who had made a somewhat racist comment, although she did not seem to be bothered by the comment. 61 No, it didn’t bother me... She said something like “I hate Hindus.” She didn’t call me one.. . and I was more concerned for her and we were having a meeting around here, so I just asked, why do you feel that way. . . She was one of my favourite kids. . . and I had a great relationship with her.. . (Tina) In brief, most participants reported that their ethno-racial identity had led to different experiences when working with people from diverse ethno-racial backgrounds. The participants’ identities seemed to shift in various contexts. Being the same or different can be more advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on the context, and was subject to ongoing negotiation. Many of the participants reported that they had found ways to negotiate different aspects of their identity so they could work effectively with their clients. THE CONTEXT OF SOCIAL WORK: NEGOTIATING IDENTITIES The participants spoke of personal experiences of identity, living in two cultures, and how they negotiated these experiences. In their practice as social workers, their identity was also constantly shifting in different contexts. Their identities seem to shift according to the situation they were in as social workers. In the following section, I present some of the dilemmas that these women faced in their practice, and the strategies they used to cope with these dilemmas. Shifting Identities All of the women in this study seemed to be able to negotiate their identities in different contexts throughout their lives. For instance, in their personal identity, most participants appeared to be comfortable and confident with being both Canadian and Indian. Even though there were challenges at times, they gave the impression that they 62 were proud to be part of these two distinct cultures. The participants seemed to be able to draw the best qualities from both cultures and, with some effort, merge these. As I’m getting older, and I’m more in tune with my culture.. .and my ethnicity and I’m proud of it.. .so I don’t want to lose that piece of my identity.. .but I’m also very proud of being Canadian... (Poonam) I’ve become much more exposed.. .1 remember being younger and it was quite closed, the communities were quite closed. If you were involved in something it would be only members of that particular community, whereas now I see so much more openness and I don’t know if that has to do with interrelationship marriage or just that there is more exposure to the general public.. .It’s so great; it’s wonderful.. .It wasn’t like that before.. .1 don’t remember it being like that... (Rita) Being able to negotiate a balance between these two cultural identities in different contexts was significant for self-identification, especially as a social worker. Despite the complicated personal and professional positions they may have been in, the participants seemed to be able to negotiate their different identities comfortably. As Indian women professionals, the way they identified themselves changed accordingly when working with White clients, Indian clients, or clients of another race or culture. Learning from their stories, there are many ways to negotiate. Having Authority At times, having the authority of a child protection social worker placed the participants in challenging situations. Some participants were cognizant that their clients were alert and attentive to the fact that they were women of colour social workers. Being a young girl, unmarried, no children, Canadian but East Indian. . . they had a problem with me kind of being the authority figure; I think that was one of the hardest things... (Preeti) 63 Sometimes they found themselves in situations where their gender or position was challenged because of the way others viewed them. Some of the participants also seemed to have preconceived notions about how their clients might perceive their authority. Most people think of social workers as going into other people’s houses, even the Indians.. .think it’s almost like not respectable.. .for girls.. .what if you have to interview a man? It gives you authority.. .Definitely being the social worker gives me authority, not being the woman of colour... (Anita) I have to not feel like they have these kind of biases and I guess not going in with all these negative assumptions that they are going to look at me as a woman, as an East Indian woman. . . and oh what do you have to do here, like your authority doesn’t stand here.. .(Rita) One of the social workers said that, early on in her career, she felt insecure in some of her professional situations. I was so young and brand new to the field, and 22 years old. I was almost intimidated of my clients.. .like yeah you’re right, I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I don’t know what life is like.. .1 felt more insecure of myself and insecure of my practice with my lack of experience... (Preeti) After some time in their positions as social workers, the participants found ways to challenge these preconceived notions as well as undertake the responsibilities of their job. Having the authority of being a child protection social worker seemed to affect some of the participants significantly, both in positive and negative ways. Some of the women in this study said they felt proud of being a woman of colour and being able to have the authority associated with being a child protection worker. Some of the participants felt privileged and able to make authoritative decisions as women of colour social workers. I love being a woman of colour social worker.. .a privilege.. .that we’ve got ajob where we are doing the child protection investigations.. .we go in and make decisions, we make decisions and what happens is based on those decisions. . .the outcome is based on what we decide... (Anita) It means quite a few things to me... I think in some ways I’m a role model, but I’m also a threat being a woman of colour social worker... (Sonia) 64 Though having the authority of a child protection worker was difficult at times for the participants, it also allowed the women in this study to find ways to negotiate their professional role and to assert their authority through interpreting and enforcing the laws and policies. The Challenges of Being a Law Enforcement Agent The laws and policies that govern child protection practice in Canada are fundamental to the practice of these social workers. The participants stated that often they would tell their clients who are not familiar with these laws (especially immigrants) that laws were different in Canada and the clients would need to understand them regardless of their situation. I think they do need to learn the laws. . . the legal part of it, and the reason for that is just educating themselves because things are so different . . . Where there is a protection report, sometimes I feel really bad because they are really good parents and there are just doing things as they know them and so I see myself as educating them... (Poonam) You have to tell them that’s not okay. There are certain things that are just not okay. . . like when you’re breaking the law, you’re breaking the law. . . (Anita) The participants believed they had to be more assertive when they had to address child protection concerns with some clients or families. I just learned because I was a new social worker, I had to learn to be more assertive and not going in all respectful... Sometimes I had to just go in and lay down the law.. . Sometimes I had to just be really direct. . . and not try to be that culturally sensitive. . . even though I knew I had to take that into consideration, but not in my manner of speaking. I would just be more direct. . . otherwise, they wouldn’t take it from me.. .1 don’t think.. .(Tina) Some of the participants said they focused on the purpose of theirjobs, which was protection of children. That took precedence over any other concerns. As time went by, I grew up and I’ve done child protection for three years and I got more confident and I learned my job better and the role of the ministry better 65 and I started to keep in mind all the cultural aspects, but my job is my job and child abuse is child abuse... (Preeti) I don’t think I have an issue of going into someone’s home and saying this is how it has to happen.. .if there is a protection concern, because to me this is why I do this job. There are children at risk, whether it’s a Caucasian family, or an Indian family, or Aboriginal family. . . (Poonam) Though all participants acknowledged that the purpose of their job was extremely important, some had difficulty in taking the position of reinforcing the laws and policies of Canada. These questions mostly would arise when they worked with families who were not White. It seemed that the concern was that immigrants might not understand or follow the laws of this country. Therefore, the social workers were in the position of having to reinforce these laws even though they found this to be challenging. The participants who had difficulty with this also questioned the laws that they were supposed to be following. The participants believed that the people who developed the laws and policies were mostly White, middle-class men who did not understand the front-line circumstances or situations that these social workers were facing. People who have moved up... from social worker, then get into policy making.. .probably white people.. .definitely white people... (Anita) No matter how progressive people are, no matter what kind of policies are put into place about equality, diversity, those kind of things.. .when it comes down to it, I look at the place I currently work at and management is still white males and this is in the social services sector. . .so often the people making the policies and procedures have never worked front line and they don’t understand what is realistic and what is not... (Sofia) One of the participants believed that the assessment tools that were used in her job were not sufficient when working with immigrant families. I think when you look at some of our tools, and you’re looking at the risk assessment, some of the questions, they are not very adapting to people of different cultures or backgrounds. . . My struggle when I started working there was when I’m trying to capture who this family is, or the essence or why they do 66 things a certain way.. .well where do I put that.. .But over time I’ve figured out my own way of doing that, just doing thorough assessments... (Poonam) Questioning the laws and policies appeared to be part of a process of negotiation for these social workers. Although the participants questioned the laws and policies of child protection social work, they seemed able to find ways to enforce the laws and policies in a manner that they were more at ease with on a personal level. They found ways to negotiate these laws and policies by using their discretion in certain situations. Using Discretion: Asserting Professional Identity Though the participants have to follow child protection guidelines and management, generally what emerged was that the front line social workers had a lot of discretion. Using their own discretion in their social work practice appeared to be very important to their professional and their personal identity. Sometimes it’s not us; it’s the government, the child protection guidelines, the policies speaking through me... I don’t necessarily agree with it... and there are so many times where I think, who is making these policies? I don’t know sometimes I do feel like we are definitely imposing. . .there has to be a better way of going about it.. .like who’s winning in the end? (Preeti) I struggle with that.. . what is abuse? At what point is taking a child out of its own environment and putting it into a different environment. . .Is that abusive in a different way?. . . Is that trauma? (Anita) As noted, some of the participants seemed to struggle with the authority that they had as child protection social workers. They questioned whether the decisions made for their clients were actually in the best interests of their clients or not. I think where I have an issue is those files where it isn’t a protection concern.. . like say spooning or coining and having to go in and say you can’t do that. . . and that is what I was told because in this country that is not allowed. . .1 remember when I heard that, I thought, who the hell are you to tell me to go say that. . . even though you’re a senior consultant, but that doesn’t mean what you say goes... so I was really struggling with that... (Poonam) 67 Are we actually harming these children more by our actions and becoming involved? Because by becoming involved, we are not offering any solutions, we are just. . . meddling... (Sonia) Their practice appeared to reflect on their personal identity and personal well being. Some participants said they struggled with making decisions which may not be helpful or appropriate for some families, especially if it was not a child protection concern. Many of these women discussed the effect that their decisions had on the way they felt personally or the way they understood themselves as social workers. If they had to make a decision that was difficult for them, it seemed to affect the participants on a personal level to a great extent. Your decision has so much power over someone else’s life.. .1 want to come home at the end of the day and feel like I haven’t tortured another family.. .protecting the child, but at the same time not putting the family in a hard spot... (Anita) We go home feeling what we did that day and it’s a huge impact on your mental, spiritual, and physical.. .it affects every part of you and your family as well.. .We do give up a lot. . . We sacrifice a lot, and we feel like shit. . . The families feel like shit.. .There has to be a better way of going about it.. .like who’s winning in the end?... (Preeti) Anita talked extensively about using discretion in her job. She said that, regardless of the race, culture, or ethnicity of the social worker, personal bias is important to take into consideration. I think a case would have been treated differently had it been two white people.. .looking at the same case.. .In social work, personal bias is huge.. .1 could have the same case that another worker had and it could be totally different, even if that worker was of the same race and culture as me... You could have two people of the same race looking at a case, but it depends on their personal experience and how they were brought up... (Anita) It is important to note, as Anita said that, even though two social workers may be of the same race and culture, they would have differing values and beliefs that would 68 influence they way they interacted with a client. So regardless of race, culture, and ethnicity, Anita stated that each social worker had a different way of practising. In addition, the participants who commented on using their discretion said they have supervisors who were very supportive of the decisions they make. They believed this supportive supervision was extremely important to their practice. Like laws are written, but you can come at them from any angle you want. . .At the end of the day, the 13 child protection concerns, they are good.. .they are sort of universal. In any culture they shouldn’t be happening.. . But how strict you are, how many conditions you put on the family, I think it’s based on the social worker’s perspective.. .1 have discretion.. .1 use it, but it depends on your supervisor.. .Like if my supervisor was making me do things that I was uncomfortable with. . . that would be a problem... (Anita) It depends on who your team leader is and what the bottom line is... and if that person said no, you have to go do that, I think that would have been a struggle.. .1 don’t know what I would have done... (Poonam) In other words, the professional discretion was organizationally constrained to an extent. However, using discretion was also a way of negotiating their personal identity with their professional identity. Using their discretion allowed them to make professional decisions that they were also comfortable with on a personal level. All of the women in this study had different ways of understanding their roles as social workers. Being women of colour complicated this understanding even more, because their race, culture, and ethnicity provided a lens through which they understood different situations. This lens was important particularly when they worked with immigrant families, because their own experiences or those of their parents were often similar. This provided a way for them to be more sensitive to the issues that immigrants face. All of the participants were able to negotiate this understanding of being a social worker and being an Indian woman in relation to their practice 69 Conclusion How the women in this study constructed their own individual identities had a significant effect on their positions as a social worker. Their social location by race, culture, ethnicity, and gender influenced the way they practised social work. The participants of this study discussed how their experiences and understanding of their ethno-racial identity had enhanced their ability to work as child protection social workers. They also discussed how these experiences limited their ability to work with clients. From these interviews, I found that the women in this study were able to negotiate their various layers of identity according to the situation they were in. Though they struggled and were challenged at times, generally they were comfortable with who they were. They were able to find a comfortable negotiation in their practice as social workers. These personal experiences as child protection workers crossed over into their professional lives and influenced the participants’ day-to-day social work practice. 70 DISCUSSION The findings of this study indicate that cultural/racial identity is a complex entity subjected to constant negotiation. This complexity also has a great impact on the role of these participants as professional social workers in the child protection service. There is no easy way to conceptualize the intersection of one’s multiple identities, particularly in a social helping context. Yet, the prevalence of the cultural competence model in social work practice and education tends to ignore this complexity. More importantly, most of the research on culturally competent social work has not examined the social workers themselves. Instead, it tends to conceptualize the client as a cultural object and makes reference solely to the culture of the client which is essentialized and solidified. The assumption is that only the culture of the client affects the practitioner’s practice (Yan & Wong, 2005). Based on the findings and the literature, this chapter examines some lessons learned from this study about how complex the identities of social workers can be and how this complexity may influence the social work practice of these participants. I also highlight some challenges to these participants and the issues that are important to this research topic. CULTURALIZATION OF DIFFERENCE Referring to Canadian multiculturalism seems to be an appropriate beginning for this discussion, because that is the context in which this study is situated. As explained in the literature review, the idea of multiculturalism is that different non-white cultural communities are encouraged to maintain and celebrate their traditions, values, and beliefs (Bannerji, 2000; Thobani, 2007) However, the ideology and the practice of 71 multiculturalism do not coincide with the lived experiences of many visible minorities. This is particularly true when the multiculturalism discourse has been used to conceal the racialized reality challenging the everyday life of many cultural minorities who are also racial minorities. As indicated in the findings of this study, this is surely a lived experience of these six participants who made reference to this incoherence in their interviews. To them, the Canadian multiculturalism policy is a hypocrisy that ignores the “otherizing” of non-white people by the dominant society, and “culturalizes” racial differences that influence how they self-identity and are identified by others. Insider-Outsider: An Otherizing Process Instead of bringing people together, the practice of multiculturalism has in fact segregated and divided Canadian society. As Handa (2003) states, “the official discourse of multiculturalism intended as a way of managing cultural diversity, has in essence constructed a fragmented identity for Canada, one that is hierarchically organized, producing insiders and outsiders” (p. 70). The outsiders, very often non-white and immigrants, are always being positioned as the “other.” As indicated in their stories, most of these six women clearly identified themselves as being seen as an “other.” They believe that they are placed on the periphery of Canadian society because of their skin colour. Being “visible minorities” and children of immigrants, the women in this study have to negotiate their own identity from the position of “otherized” subjects in relation to the white landscape in which they live. Concurring with the literature, the language of the dominant multicultural discourse is problematic because it limits the way that the women in this study can even 72 understand themselves. Labelled “woman of colour,” Aujla (2000) states “never quite Canadian enough, never quite white enough, these women remain ‘others’ in their own land” (p. 41). In other words, the label “Canadian” is beyond a citizenry configuration. Instead, it implies a reified political imagination privileging the dominant group of people who are “white.” This white backdrop by which these women were “otherized” is disguised by the multicultural discourse in Canada in which “white” is ironically not seen as a colour. Yee (2005) suggests that the “Whiteness as an ‘institutionalized privilege’ that perpetuates a ‘system of dominance’ can only be unraveled once the concept of whiteness is critically deconstructed’ (p. 87). To borrow Park’s (2005) observation of the US experience, “against the blank, white backdrop of the ‘culture-free’ mainstream, the ‘cultured’ Others are made visible in sharp relief, and this visibility—a sign of separateness and differentiation from the standard—are inscriptions of marginality” (p. 22). Conflation of Race, Culture, and Ethnicity The multiculturalism discourse has placed “culture” as the hegemonic attribute of the non-white people’s identity. As a result, the multiculturalism “policy’s reification of culture has disciplined and transformed those defined as cultural outsiders such that most have come to accept and reproduce their own classification in just such culturalist terms” (Thobani, 2007, p. 150). The hegemony of multiculturalism also leads to the conflation of race, culture, and ethnicity, the three major components constituting the identity of the six participants. Because of the multiculturalism policy, people of colour have become identifiable solely by their “culture” and “ethnicity,” which very often implicitly are used 73 to signify their race. Conflating these three concepts, “race,” which is a political and social taboo in Canada, can be converted into a relatively neutral and socially acceptable understanding of “culturally different.” Thobani (2007) states, “race became reconfigured as culture and cultural identity became crystallized as political identity, with the core of the nation continuing to be defined as bilingual and bicultural (that is, white)” (p. 145). The observation by Thobani is that many immigrants may share this culturalized perception. This observation, as indicated in the findings, also corresponds with the stories of the six participants, who are the children of immigrants. In the narratives of the participants, we can find that culture, ethnicity, and race are being discursively conflated and used interchangeably. When asked about their identity, the participants in this study used terms such as “Indo-Canadian,” “East Indian,” and “brown” that simultaneously indicated cultural and racial categories to identify their race. This conflation not only allows people of colour to be classified as cultural “minorities” through the colour of their skin but also provides political convenience for the dominant society to conceal the structural barriers imposed on the visible minorities. As Handa (2003) contends, due to this conflation, “differences in culture (and not because of racism) are then considered to be the cause for economic and political development, governmental structure, lifestyle, and personal attributes and achievements” (p. 19). In accord with the literature, the result of this conflation has led to what Sherene Razack articulated as “culturalization of difference,” which explains the reduction of different structural issues to cultural characteristics (Razack, 1998). 74 Identity: A Constant Negotiation Process Race, ethnicity, and culture are socially articulated labels which are used to identify other people or to self-identify, particularly in a multicultural and multiracial society like Canada. These labels are subjected to the web of social discourses within which they are contested and rearticulated. As indicated in the findings of this study, the complexity of these women’s cultural identities are reflected in their constant negotiation of these three attributes. Because of this constant negotiation, Hall (1990) argues that the complexity of cultural identity rules out any proposition that it is a fixed and static entity. Instead, the negotiation process is always shifting and changing. It is therefore important to understand how the shifting and changing process works. Referring to the literature, using Bhabha’s (1994) ideas, the negotiation takes place in the “third space,” where one’s identity is ambivalent, fluid, and in flux. Figuratively, this is a dialogical process in which individuals discursively move among the different social positions of race, culture, and ethnicity, while transposing between the different colonial and post-colonial historical points of reference (Bhatia, 2002). Handa (2003) articulates the relevance of this concept to the experience of “South Asian” women—an experience shared by all six participants of this study as indicated in the findings—who are living in a fragmented reality in which there are many contradictions, including conflicted understandings of what it means to be Canadian within a multicultural context. Reiterating the literature, Handa describes the “third space” by saying, “these women negotiate the contradictions by articulating a third position of subjectivity, one that is neither traditionally Canadian nor South Asian, but speaks to the fluidity of categories” (p. 166). 75 Clearly, from the findings, these are the common experiences of the six women who are living in a space where they are always moving in their different positions of identity. For instance, the identities of the women in this study include being second generation, female, Indian, and Canadian. But each woman had a different understanding of these identities based on her own personal experience. These women’s multiple identities intersected with each other in complex ways, so one identity could not be separated from the other. The findings show that the participants believed different parts of their identities prevailed in different contexts, and this belief was important to the interactions they had in these various contexts. Thus the negotiation of their identities is fluid and contextual, and the dialogue between different positions of their identities is ongoing. This negotiation is not taking place privately or in one’s own mind. Instead, it is understood in the interactions with other people. In other words, the negotiation is not always smooth and easy. It is a balance between how one identifies and is identified. The society tends to assign different weight to different identities that one bears. For instance in this study, many of the participants were somewhat reserved about using the popular label “South Asian”, which in Canada is a socially constructed geographical-racial label to conveniently categorize “alike” people from the South Asian subcontinent. Geographically, South Asia consists of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indian, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Using a label like this means that, frequently, racial minorities are “painted with the same brush stroke,” as Bannerji (2000) contends. It conveniently negates the diversity and richness of people who may in fact look similar or come from a certain geographical area but have very 76 different cultures and lived experiences. The popularity of this label also limits how people from this region identify themselves. As shown in the findings, like other racial and cultural labels such as “East Indian” and “brown”, which are also used to signify people from this region, “South Asian” is a floating signifier, the meaning of which is constantly changing in different contexts (Hall, 1996). As Hall contends, the signifiers of race change with the time and place in which they are being interpreted, so the idea of race becomes a social construct defined by the dominant (that is, white) group. Clearly for the six women in this study, the label of “South Asian” is inappropriate, because it obscures their preferred cultural identities. This is apparent, because most of the women prefer being self-identified as “Indian” which explained their ancestry—an important part of who they are. As Hall (1996) asserted, differences do exist in the world, but what matters is the system of thought and representation of these differences. In other words, the dominant discourse and language very often defines or influences the identity of an individual. Even though many of these women did not actually use it to describe themselves, “South Asian”, being a socially popular label backed up by the public policy discourse in Canada, appears to be difficult for these women to deny or avoid. In essence, this label has become an embodied marker meaning that sets them apart from their white counterparts. To resist the dominant discourse, these “visible minority” women inevitably have to constantly negotiate between their self-perceptions and those imposed by other people. 77 Culturalization of Gendered Identities The stories of these six women not only problematize the notion of cultural and racial identities but also the intersection of these identities with their womanhood in the Canadian multicultural context. The complexity of the intersection between culture and gender experienced by second-generation women from a cultural/racial minority family is always ignored, particularly under the multiculturalism discourse. Critics of the multiculturalism discourse suggest that, very often, gender inequalities experienced by “visible minority” women are considered to be nothing but the result of their “culture” (Thobani, 2005; Razack, 1998; Handa, 2003; Bannerji, 2000). The assumption is that the sexist beliefs of their culture become the sole reason why women in cultural and racial minority groups experience oppression. Oppression against women is assumed to be an inherent structural barrier lying within the particular culture of the minority communities. In any culture, being a woman bears certain cultural expectations, beliefs, practices, and even identities. It is apparent in the findings of this study that some of the women referred to the culturally gendered way they were socialized in the Indian culture. For example, Sonia and Rita believed that, as Indian women, they face more inequalities than men do in their cultural community. However, to these six second-generation women, their traditional gendered role is also challenged by their being Canadian. Many of the participants spoke of having to live a double life because of these challenges. Preeti believed that she was able to “get away with” more because she was raised in a more “westernized” way than perhaps her peers were. There appears to be a struggle between the cultural expectations of being a traditional Indian girl and being a modem Canadian girl among these women. 78 Taking a closer look at the findings, growing up in an Indian family, these women’s gender roles are more or less shaped by their own culture. Meenakshi Thapan (2005) discusses how the intergenerational transmission of identity takes on different meanings and different conceptions for each generation. The first-generation immigrant mothers, who may be afraid of losing their culture and traditions, feel they need to impose their traditional rituals and beliefs on their second-generation daughters. However, with the realization that being in a Western country, they also want their children to be able to survive in a culture that emphasizes individualistic values. Narayan situates this relationship between the first-generation mothers and second-generation daughters with the statement, “they were anxious about the fact that our independence and self-assertiveness seemed to be making us into women who lacked compliance, deference, and submissiveness deemed essential in ‘good Indian wives” (1997, p. 8). Being exposed to Canadian culture and seeking a Canadian identity, the second generation may understand their gender identity differently. In this study, most of the participants reported that they connect and identify equally to the Canadian culture and the Indian culture. However, being “women of colour,” their gender identity is racially tainted in a way that they are being “otherized” as “outsiders.” The “Canadianness” embraced in their gender identity is always challenged both by the cultural expectations coming from their family and community and by the otherizing tendency imposed by the dominant society. The women in this study indicated that their gender identity is subjected to constant negotiation in the bicultural context that they are constantly moving in and out of. 79 NEGOTIATION OF THE PROFESSIONAL ROLE AS A SOCIAL WORKER Being second generation, visible minority, Indian, Canadian, and female are a few key identities that intersected with the professional role of social worker that these women are in. The intersectionality of these different identities provides a complex and dynamic way of understanding the experiences of these second-generation women as professional social workers. Intersectionality can be defined as “signifying the complex, irreducible, varied, and variable effects which ensue when multiple axis of differentiation—economic, political, cultural, psychic, subjective and experiential— intersect in historically specific contexts” (Brah & Pheonix, 2004, p. 2). The concept emphasizes that different dimensions of social life cannot be separated out into discrete and pure strands. The stories of these six participants show that, as social workers, their own personal racial and cultural identities are inevitably intersecting with their professional identity. This intersection provides them with a certain kind of resource while at the same time delimiting the space of how their multiple identities are negotiated. In many cases, with experience, these women learned how to negotiate this intersection when working with their clients. The intersection of their different identities then allowed them to relate to their different clients in various ways. Authority as a Minority Being a child protection worker gave the participants authority that social workers in other areas do not have. Women who have worked in the child welfare system felt they were often seen by clients as “law enforcement agents” (Yan, 2005). Some of the participants felt uncomfortable with the level of power they were able to exercise, 80 whereas others felt very comfortable and secure with the level of power they could use. Nonetheless, as Foucault states, “power is neither given, nor exchanged, nor recovered, but rather exercised and that it only exists in action” (1980, p. 89). Therefore, the power that these women have in their professional role is negotiable and can be contained, particularly when this formal authority is intersecting with their marginality of being visible minority women. As indicated in the findings, all the women in this study had a level of discretion that they were able to use in their practice, and clearly many of the participants did make effective use of their power. Yet, in the social work discourse, the experience of visible minority social workers is not well articulated. As Wong et al. (2003) observe, there is “limited discussion about the different power dynamics in cross-cultural practice when the practitioner comes from a minority culture and the client from a dominant culture, or when both practitioner and client are of a minority culture” (p. 153). Wong’ s observation is particularly critical to the child protection workers. As the literature shows, until recently the assumption was that most child protection social workers were white practitioners, whereas the clients were mostly from “ethnic minority” cultures. The “white” mentality of the child protection service inevitably challenges the women of colour practitioners who are now emerging as a major force in the child protection field. The women in this study also indicated that, many times, their authority was questioned and challenged by some clients, not only by clients of the “dominant” group but also by clients of the same race and culture. Indeed, their gendered racial/ethnic bodies affect how they are perceived, and challenge their professional authority. For example, when working with Indian families, at times Tina felt threatened by the men 81 because they would try to “exert their power.” Some clients believed they may be favoured because they were of the same race or culture as the practitioner, a belief that resulted in the social workers sometimes feeling manipulated. Their experience was different when working with clients of other races and cultures. For example, one of the participants, Rita, wondered if she was being judged in a racist manner by her white clients. This presented a challenge for her each time she had a white client. She wondered if she would be taken seriously as a child protection worker because she was a “visible minority” woman. An Institutional Silencing of the Coloured Woman Corresponding with the literature, these cultural/racial minority female professionals are living in a paradox. Being professional has granted them certain authority, but being an employee of a “white”-based institution, these women are being silenced. In child protection work specifically, the policy and philosophical assumptions governing the decision-making practices are based on a White European-American culture, and as a result of the standardization of the service, the participants are expected to follow through with the laws and policies. As some participants suggested, as professionals they are expected to leave their racial and ethnic identities at the door because they have to perform the role of a “white” professional. As indicated in the findings, all women in this study had a level of discretion that they were able to use in their practice, and clearly many of the participants did make use of this. Thus, what is highlighted is that the social workers in this study were able to master the amount of authority they had in a certain situations. 82 The white bureaucratic child protection system also tends to delimit the authority of women of colour. Woldeguiorguis (2003) states that what women of colour, both practitioners and clients, “absolutely share is a core sense of isolation and inability to be heard as women and as women of colour in the child welfare system” (p. 284). This is significant to this study, because one participant, Preeti, clearly stated that she is not the one who is making the rules; she is only a messenger of the system that is beyond her control. Therefore, the duty these women have to perform as child protection workers sometimes conflicts with their own cultural point of view. The expectation to perform as a professional child protection worker challenges these women, particularly when they have to enforce laws and policies that they may perceive culturally as detrimental to minority families they are working with. This becomes isolating for women of colour who do not personally agree with the tasks they must perform in their job. In her article, Gail Lewis (1996) speaks of black women social workers and how their race, gender, and position intersect to shape their “experience” of being social workers. She demonstrates that their experiences as black women social workers are subjective and always contested. Similarly, in this study, each woman’s experiences were very different and subject to the understanding each had of her own cultural and racial identity. Many of the women in this study were aware of how their selves are involved in their practice, particularly when they were trying to practice in a “culturally competent” mamier. It was evident that these women were using the idea of reflexivity in relation to the authority they have. Concurring with the literature, reflexive self-awareness is seen as a co-construction of the self with the social and physical environment conveyed through language and culture (Kondrat, 1999). As some of the participants reported, being able to 83 have some discretion within the procedural process was a significant part of their professional role. It allowed them some flexibility in the way they managed situations or complex decisions. Using their discretion as a form of reflexive practice, they were able to implement certain decisions in a way that may be comfortable for them personally and perhaps not so culturally detrimental to their clients. Same or Different? Contextualized Work Under the multicultural discourse, the notion of cultural competence has become dominant in the health and social services sector. However, this is a problematic notion when culture becomes not only the key but almost the sole lens to understand clients of colour, when their social issues are labeled mainly as “cultural problems” and when their culture is used to explain their behaviours. Social work practice and education continues to use the concept of “culture” and “cultural competence” without actually explaining or deconstructing the meaning behind these terms. Park (2005) suggests “the salience of ‘culture’ and the efficacy of multiculturalism, its main paradigmatic support, remain uncontested and under-examined in social work discourse” (p. 14). Through this discourse of “cultural competence,” which is an extension of the multicultural discourse, cultural difference and “othering” of people are maintained and reproduced in social work practice and education. Yan (2005) conducted a study on how social workers deal with their ethno-racial identities in different ways. His findings suggest that “the cultural similarities or differences between workers and their clients constitute the major contextual variable that influences the worker’s reflection on their own cultures” (p. 15). In this study 84 particularly, Anita suggested that, regardless of race or culture, each person would have a different interpretation of the situation because of her own personal life experiences. She suggested that even practitioners of the same race and culture will have different perceptions. This speaks to the diversity within a group, which was made apparent in the findings of this study. Even though some of the experiences of these women may be similar, all of the participants had a somewhat different understanding of the experience. Like the results that Yan (2005) found in his study, almost all participants have purposefully used their own cultures and experiences to help their clients. For instance, Poonam believed that she was able to understand Indian clients better because she identified strongly with her race, ethnicity, and Indian culture. She believed that the cultural and experiential similarities between the workers and clients can facilitate social work intervention. However, the assumption that being the same race and culture means that a social worker will understand his or her clients better is itself problematic to many second-generation workers. Although they may share a similar racial-cultural background with their clients, some people who are second generation from immigrant families may not identify with their race or culture. Therefore, when working with someone who actually does relate to his or her race and culture, these social workers who are second generation from immigrant families may not always have the cultural advantages. Sometimes, the cultural expectation imposed on them may even hamper the working relationship. As mentioned, in this study not all participants, like Tina and Preeti, identify with their racial minority identity or affiliate with their Indian culture. Therefore, pairing these women up with someone who is of Indian ancestry may not be the ideal situation. Particularly when the clients have a certain cultural expectation 85 of them, this kind of cultural/racial matching may actually be detrimental to the relationship-building process between client and practitioner. Wong et al. (2003) stated that “assuming cultural knowledge and competence based on one’s ethnic membership may prevent practitioners from engaging with the variability and individuality of the clients’ experience and from seeing the larger structural issues” (p. 161). To conclude, the findings of this study concur with many of the key concepts of the literature indicating that the identities of the participants are contextualized and evolving. In the discourse of multiculturalism in Canada, cultural hegemony minimizes the experience of these women of colour who are racially labeled as “visible minorities” and thus affects on how their identities are understood. The “whiteness” embedded in the multicultural discourse tends to otherize these second-generation “non-white” women who are born and raised in Canada. As well, the “cultural competence” model reinforces the cultural hegemony and prevails over the understanding of social workers’ interactions with clients. As stated in the literature, this model essentializes “culture” in the practitioner-client relationship, which prevents a dialogue in the relationship. The foundation of this model needs to be examined and deconstructed through social work education and practice. The findings of this study have significant implications for social work practice and research, highlighted in Chapter 6. 86 CONCLUSION By examining the complexity of the cultural/racial identities of this group of second-generation Indian Canadian female social workers, this study questions how social workers’ own cultural identity can affect their practice. The findings from this study indicate that these second-generation Indian women are in constant negotiation with their different cultural identities. The multiculturalism discourse of Canadian society has constructed the identities of these women so that they are defined as “visible minority” women by the state. For second-generation women, being defined as “visible minorities” proves to be complicated because, even though they are Canadian by birth, they are otherized as outsiders. Being a social worker offers another identity that intersects with their cultural identity and shapes their understanding of themselves in a professional helping context. In the interactions with their clients, it is clear that the social worker’s own cultural identity is a significant component of the interaction. The negotiation of a person’s identity is contextual and shifts when working with clients of the same or different race and culture. As an exploratory study with a small size non-randomly selected sample, the findings can certainly not be generalized. However, they may provide some insights for the social work profession. It is hoped that this study can further problematize the concepts of ethno-racial identity of all social workers, white and non-white, particularly in a multicultural/multiracial reality of Canada. In this concluding chapter, I highlight some implications of this study for social work research and practice 87 Social Work Implications The findings of this study indicate that the notion of cultural identity is always changing and is contextual. It is difficult to become competent at something that is continually changing. The multiple identities of social workers shape the interactions with their clients in many different ways. For instance, in this study, the participants’ personal experiences of immigration, racism, and being minority women in Canada provide a framework that shaped their world view. This in turn affects them directly as social workers and in their practice. The stories of this group of women challenge the idea of practitioners being culturally free. Therefore, we need to bring the social workers back into the social work understanding. At the same time, a more fluid understanding of cultural identity needs to be part of social work practice. In this way, practitioners can begin their work with clients with a curiosity that will allow them to appreciate the complexity of identities, both their own and that of the clients, and how these identities are in constant negotiation within different contexts. This appreciation requires a high level of critical reflexivity of the social workers (Kondrat, 1999). In this study, it was evident that these women were using the idea of reflexivity in relation to this authority within the context of working with their clients. They were questioning, challenging and reflecting on the authority they had and the decisions they often had to make in their work. Kondrat explains this process of reflexivity to be an ongoing and fluid construction of the self. However, a critically reflexive process is also an inter-subjective process in which both the client and the practitioner are engaging in awareness of their cultures during the practitioner-client 88 interaction (Yan, 2005). The women in this study are aware of their own cultural influences in the interactions they have with others. Thus the practitioner-client interaction is a two-way process: meaning is being created through a “dialogic space in which workers allow the inclusion of the client’s world into theirs” (Yan & Wong, 2005, p. 186). The different social identities of both the practitioner and client intersect with each other to form the relationship. This inter-subjective process is metaphorically dialogic. Using a dialogical model rather than trying to learn about a certain culture in a cultural literacy manner, the practitioners should allow a curiosity and naïveté in their interactions (Dyche & Zayas, 1995). This means that they need to be open-minded and ask questions. Because culture is not fixed and cannot be essentialized, only through dialogue can we understand what “culture” means to our clients within a specific context. This dialogical approach necessitates the social workers being critically reflexive in their approach toward clients. In other words, we need to challenge the foundational idea of “cultural competence.” It needs to be critically reexamined and deconstructed with a realization of the cultural hegemony created and sustained by the multicultural discourse in Canadian society. This dialogical model needs to be taught in social work education so that social workers, white and non-white, become aware of how their own cultural identity may affect the interaction with their clients. As an exploratory study with only six participants, this study certainly cannot be generalized. However, the stories of these participants may shed light on the limited understanding of the experience of racial-cultural minority social workers who are from immigrant families. Indeed, there are many more questions raised than answered. Future 89 research is deemed necessary. One area of research that is needed is on the intersection of other critical identities along with the ethno-racial identity of social work practitioners and how these would likely affect their practice. Identities such as class, sexuality, ability/disability, and mental health are significant identities to explore in depth. It is likely that all of these identities intersect with each other in complex ways to shape the practitioner’s experience. The other area of research needed is about the organizational context in which social workers practice. In this study I focused only on child protection workers; however, the field of social work is broad. This study highlighted how the area of child protection social work regulates the practice of the social workers. The organizational setting and culture of the child protection service to a great extent dictates the way these social workers are able to practice. If organizational culture and setting are important contextual variables affecting how social workers’ complex identities influence their practice in a cross-cultural context, then there needs to be a role for understanding social work at the organizational level. The organization itself needs to understand and educate its social workers on the ways that they can negotiate their identities within the organizational context. As well, the social workers who work in these organizations need to articulate how the organization may limit the way they practise, specifically in physical setting and organizational rules. There is a need to conduct research in other areas of social work such as medical social work or community-based social work, to understand how organizational dynamics differ and affect the practice of social workers. To have a better picture of how the intersection of different identities influences social work practice in a cross-cultural setting, we need a thick description of the process. This is 90 particularly important when social workers have traditionally been left out of this kind of understanding. It is important to look at how practitioners understand themselves in this context and how they believe their understanding affects their interactions with clients. Before concluding I would like to share a part of my journey through the process of this research. Throughout the data collection and analysis process, I kept ajournal to record my thoughts and reflection. There were times when I was surprised, frustrated and challenged by some of the participant’s responses. I wondered at times how their experiences and their perceptions could be so different from mine. Even though I was feeling this way, I have learned how to appreciate the possible diverse perceptions among people who may share similar social positions. This research project was an opportunity to give the participants of this study a voice and a place where they could share their experiences. I have tried my best not to misinterpret the participant’s voices. At the same time, I have been very much a part of the process, which has been important for me to understand my own self-identity. In conclusion, this study has explored the identities of six social work practitioners, who are visible minorities in the Canadian context. The findings indicate that the understanding they have of their own self-identities influences the way they practice with clients. The cultural competence model and the idea of culturally competent social work practice have been challenged, and the suggestion is to reexamine the foundation of this model. 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Social Work: A Critical Turn (p. 87-104). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing Inc. 98 APPENDIX A Recruitment Email I am conducting a research project for my thesis in the Masters of Social Work (MSW) program at UBC. I am trying to understand how South Asian Canadian female social workers understand their own racial and cultural identity in relation to their social work practice. I am interested in this topic because like you, I am a South Asian woman and a social worker myself and I would like to understand how our racial and cultural identity influences the way we practice. I would like to invite you to participate in this research study and share your experiences with me. If you do decide to participate in this study, the information which you share with me will only be used in my MSW thesis, however all identifying details will be kept confidential. You are not obligated to participate in any way and you can withdraw from this study without consequence at any point throughout the process. I will be interviewing individuals for this project at a location of your choosing and I will be audio taping the interviews. The time commitment required is one to one and a half hours for an in depth interview. We may have a second interview if you choose. If you are interested in participating please contact me. I also hope that you can forward this email to any friends who are also second generation South Asian female social workers with at least two years experience working in the child protection service. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at this email address or my supervisor Dr. Miu Chung Yan at Sabina Sodhi BSW, MSW Candidate, RSW 99 APPENDIX B THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA School of Social Work and Family Studies 2080 West Mall LiBC Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z2Tel: (604) 822-2255 Fax: (604) 822-8656 PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM Title: Negotiating Identities: Personal and Professional Stories of South Asian Women Social Workers Principal Investigator: Dr. Miu Chung Yan Assistant Professor School of Social Work and Family Studies, UBC Phone: xxx.xxxx Co-Investigator: Sabina Sodhi, BSW, RSW MSW Candidate School of Social Work and Family Studies, UBC Phone: xxx.xxxx We are conducting a study that focuses on the experiences of second generation South Asian women who are child protection social workers. This study is about how South Asian women social workers understand their own racial and cultural identity in relation to their social work practice. The researchers are interested in learning about the implications for social work practice arising from the negotiation of your ethno-racial and professional identities. We are aware that you are a second generation South Asian woman and a social worker and therefore would be suitable to participate in this research project. Participation will entail a one-to-one interview to discuss your experiences of being a South Asian social worker. This interview will take place in a setting and location of your choice and will 100 last anywhere from I to 1.5 hours. All conversations will be audio taped and transcribed with all identifying information removed. You will be given a copy of your transcripts in order to clarify or remove information that you do not wish to be included. It is possible that through participation in this study, distress or confusion around racial or cultural identity might occur. We will provide appropriate resources upon your request. These resources will be free, locally and publicly available for you to access. Your participation in this study is voluntary and you will be free to withdraw from the project at any time. Identifying information such as names will be removed from the data collected. If you have any concerns or questions about your treatment and rights as a research subject, please call the Research Subject Information Line at (604) 822-8598 at the UBC Office of Research Studies. If you have any concerns about this study, please feel free to contact Dr. Miu Chung Yan at xxx.xxxx. If you agree to participate in this study, please sign the form below and provide contact information in the form of email or phone number. I am fully aware of the nature and extent of my participation in this research project as stated above and the possible risks from it. I hereby agree to participate in the above study and to allow the researcher to use my information for publications that are related to this study. However, any of the sensitive personal and agency’s information should not be disclosed. I acknowledge that I have received a copy of this consent statement Signature ______________________________ Date: Participant Contact Information Name, Email Address, Phone Number Signature _____ ______ Date: Interviewer 101 APPENDIX C Interview Questions 1. How would you identify yourself in terms of culture, race, and ethnicity? 2. How do you think your parent’s experience of immigration may have shaped you? 3. What do you know about multiculturalism in Canada? 4. How do you think your understanding of multiculturalism in Canada may have affected you in terms of understanding your ethno-racial identity? 5. Have you had an experience of racism? How do you think this has impacted you? 6. What does being a woman of color social worker in the child protection service mean to you? 7. Can you describe your experience of working with a client who was of a different race and/or culture than yourself? Can you give me an example? 8. Can you describe a time in your practice which made you think about your race, ethnicity or culture? 102 APPENDIX D Revised Interview Questions 1. I’d like to begin by talking about identity. Can you describe how your identify yourself? Probes: What about race? What about culture? What about ethnicity? What about gender? What about class? What about nationality? Any other ways you would describe yourself? 2. How do you think your parent’s experience of immigration may have shaped you and your identity? 3. What do you know about multiculturalism in Canada? 4. How do you think your understanding of multiculturalism in Canada may have affected you in terms of understanding your ethnoracial identity? 5. Have you had an experience of racism? What happened? How do you think this has impacted you? 6. What does being a woman of color social worker in the child protection service mean to you? How does this impact your practice? 7. Can you describe your experience of working with a client who was of a different race and/or culture than yourself? Can you give me an example? 8. What about working with someone of the same culture/race? How was that experience difference? 9. Can you describe a time in your practice which made you think about your race, ethnicity or culture? What happened? Did anything change for you in terms of the way you practice? 103 Page 1 ot I _____ The University of British Columbia J Office of Research Services ‘ Behavioural Research Ethics Board Suite 102, 6l9oAgronomy Road, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z3 CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL - MINIMAL RISK PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: INSTITUTION I DEPARTMENT: UBC BREB NUMBER: U BC/Arts/Social Work & FamilyDeborah 0 Connor . H06-03837 INSTITUTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUT: Institution I Site UBC PointGreySite Other locations where the research will be conducted: N/A CO-INVESTIGATOR(S): N/A SPONSORING AGENCIES: N/A PROJECT TITLE: Metamorphosis: Second Generation South Asian Women Tell Their Stories CERTIFICATE EXPIRY DATE: January 23, 2008 DOCUMENTS INCLUDED IN THIS APPROVAL: DATE APPROVED: January 23, 2007 Document Name I Version I Date Consent Forms: Participant Consent Form N/A January 12, 2007 dvertisements: Recruitment Email N/A January 8, 2007 Ehe application for ethical review and the document(s) listed above have been reviewed and the procedures were ound to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects. Approval is issued on behalf of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board and signed electronically by one of the following: Dr. Peter Suedfeld, Chair Dr. Jim Rupert, Associate Chair Dr. Arminee Kazanjian, Associate Chair Dr. M. Judith Lynam, Associate Chair QL https ://rise.ubc.calrise/Doc/0/RJN4LKNINDUKH7N9TPODMPVUCC/fromString.html 10/7/2008 rage i ot I _____ The University of British Columbia Office of Research Sei’vices Behavioural Research Ethics Board Suite 102, 6190 Agronomy Road, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z3 CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL - MINIMAL RISK AMENDMENT PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: DEPARTMENT: UBC BREB NUMBER: Miu Chung Yan UBC/Arts/Social Work & Family H06-03837 INSTITUTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUT: Institution I Site UBC Vancouver (excludes UBC Hospital) Other locations where the research will be conducted: N/A CO-INVESTIGATOR(S): N/A SPONSORING AGENCIES: N/A PROJECT TITLE: Metamorphosis: Second Generation South Asian Women Tell Their Stories Expiry Date - Approval of an amendment does not change the expiry date on the current UBC BREB approval of this study. An application for renewal is required on or before: January 23, 2008 MENDMENT(S): IAMENDMENT APPROVAL DATE: August 29, 2007 Oocument Name I Version I Date Consent Forms: Participant Consent Form N/A August 14, 2007 The amendment(s) and the document(s) listed above have been reviewed and the procedures were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects. Approval is issued on behalf of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board and signed electronically by one of the following: Dr. Peter Suedfeld, Chair Dr. Jim Rupert, Associate Chair Dr. Arminee Kazanjian, Associate Chair Dr. M. Judith Lynam, Associate Chair Dr. Laurie Ford, Associate Chair 105 https :// 1 4GD48TA49/fromString.html 10/7/2008 UsC rage i 01 1 The University of British Columbia Office of Research Services Behavioural Research Ethics Board Suite 102, 6190 Agronomy Road, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z3 CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL - MINIMAL RISK AMENDMENT PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: DEPARTMENT: UBC BREB NUMBER: . UBC/Arts/Social Work & FamilyMiu Chung Yan Studies H06-03837 INSTITUTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUT: Institution I Site UBC Vancouver (excludes UBC Hospital) Other locations where the research will be conducted: N/A CO-INVESTIGATOR(S): N/A SPONSORING AGENCIES: N/A PROJECT TITLE: Negotiating Identities: Personal and Professional Stories of South Asian Women Social Workers Expiry Date - Approval of an amendment does not change the expiry date on the current UBC BREB approval of this study. An application for renewal is required on or before: January 23, 2008 MENDMENT(S): IAMENDMENT APPROVAL DATE: December 3, 2007 Document Name I Version I Date Consent Forms: Participant Consent Form N/A November 22, 2007 .dvertisements: Recruitment Email N/A November 22, 2007 Questionnaire,Questionnaire Cover Letter Tests: Interview questions N/A November 22, 2007 rhe amendment(s) and the document(s) listed above have been reviewed and the procedures were found to be 3cceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects. Approval is issued on behalf of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board and signed electronically by one of the following: Dr. M. Judith Lynam, Chair Dr. Jim Rupert, Associate Chair Dr. Laurie Ford, Associate Chair /0 https ://rise.ubc.calrise/Doc/0/K 1 T73TFMR1 2KFECSAA5PLA2A24/fromString.html 10/7/2008 ‘4 rage i oi i _____ The University of British Columbia J Office of Research Services Behavioural Research Ethics Board Suite 102, 6190 Agronomy Road, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z3 CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL- MINIMAL RISK RENEWAL PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: DEPARTMENT: UBC BREB NUMBER: U BC/Arts/Social Work & FamilyMiu Chung Yan Studies H06-03837 INSTITUTION(S) WHERE RESEARCH WILL BE CARRIED OUT: Institution I Site UBC Vancouver (excludes UBC Hospital) Other locations where the research will be conducted: N/A CO-INVESTIGATOR(S): N/A SPONSORING AGENCIES: N/A PROJECT TITLE: Negotiating Identities: Personal and Professional Stories of South Asian Women Social Workers EXPIRY DATE OF THIS APPROVAL: December 14, 2008 APPROVAL DATE: December 14, 2007 the Annual Renewal for Study have been reviewed and the procedures were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human subjects. Approval is issued on behalf of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board Io https ://!rise/Doc/0/BPJD2NAK6PUKR6OV5 9CIE3PK2E/fromString.html 10/7/2008


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