A Complicated Welcome: Social Workers Navigate Policy, Organizational Contexts and Socio-Cultural Dynamics Following Migration to Canada

Marion Brown, Annie Pullen Sansfacon, Stephanie Ethier, Amy Fulton


Canada prides itself on a reputation of being a welcoming and inclusive country, promoting a collective pride in upholding a multicultural mosaic wherein a rich diversity of ethnicities, cultures and religions co-exist. A priority of the Canadian federal government is the attraction and retention of skilled foreign workers into the labour market, and social workers have been targeted for this government initiative. Alluring though this ideal picture may be, the experiences of forty-four migrant social workers who undertook their social work education outside Canada and currently practice social work in Canada suggest significant barriers on the levels of policy, organizational context and socio-cultural dynamics. On the level of policy, participants navigated processes for immigration, recognition of foreign credentials, and licensure with the provincial regulatory body. On the level of organizational context, participants faced a range of challenges in securing social work employment. On the level of socio-cultural dynamics, participants detail the many interactive subtleties experienced as they sought to ‘fit in’ in order to connect with their new colleagues and communities. Analysis draws on the concepts of institutional and embodied cultural capital as the means though which social status is differentially available for these migrant social workers, based on the ascribed value of their citizenship characteristics, educational preparation, and practice experience. These forms of capital facilitate mobility by enabling access to opportunities and the tools to acquire status and entry to a particular class, that of the social work practitioner in Canada.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijsss.v3i1.569


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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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