UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

State policy, settlement services, and employment prospects : an ethnographic investigation of immigrant women's social and economic integration in Canada Holroyd, Heather


Drawing on over 150 hours of participant-observation and 41 semi-structured interviews conducted between September 2013 and April 2014 with the participants and organizers of an employment and leadership skills program for immigrant women at two Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver, this ethnographic study examines the influence of Canadian immigration policies and settlement services on the employment trajectories of immigrant women. A key research finding concerns how women with precarious legal status and/or limited English language skills negotiate gaps accessing services and employment opportunities, and thus how the prompt provision of settlement supports and work permits would improve immigrant women’s labour market participation and economic standing in Canada. A second key finding concerns the value of settlement-oriented employment programs that recognize and emphasize newcomers’ skills rather than deficits, and that leverage this human capital to promote participants’ social integration and sense of citizenship in Canada. This dissertation is sociologically significant in its contribution to explicating the distinctive institutionalized racial and gender barriers that research participants encountered in their attempts to achieve meaningful employment and full citizenship in Canada. The policy recommendations suggested by this research include: 1) more efficient federal-level procedures for processing immigration applications and issuing work permits, 2) improved access to provincially-funded healthcare services and English language for employment training programs, 3) affordable, employer-recognized programs for assessing foreign credentials, and 4) greater outreach and education about multiculturalism, cultural sensitivity and inclusivity at the local level of settlement service agencies and neighbourhood-based community organizations.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International