Friday, August 22, 2014

Do you want to prevent live-in caregivers from getting deported? Do you want to make sure they get landed status? Then do something!


I previously blogged before about why I became part of Canadians for an Inclusive Canada and why I think it is important for people to take part. Since launching our website, we’ve had a great response. One of our major campaigns, which calls on people’s individual MPs to give live-in caregivers landed status upon arrival, got 500 signatures a few days after we launched it. Our goal was to get 500 signatures by August 31 so we quickly surpassed that goal! And the petition is still ongoing so please inform as many people as you can about this and maybe get them to sign. We are tracking how many letters get sent to each MP, and the more letters people send, the more we can persuade them to act on behalf of live-in caregivers.

Even if you don’t necessarily want to sign the petition, however, and if you feel that there are other mechanisms - and other calls for action - that need to be made on behalf of live-in caregivers, I encourage you to go ahead and act. As someone who wrote an entire dissertation on social movements, one of the biggest ways to oppose harmful policies is to do something - anything to signal your opposition to these policies.

A key reason for why live-in caregivers were able to get the opportunity to apply for permanent residency in the first place in the late 1970s/early 1980s was because different groups of people from divergent political and cultural backgrounds became active. Some marched. Some had petitions. Some directly lobbied government ministers. Some wrote articles. Some handed out pamphlets. Some had sit-ins. Some went uninvited to private government meetings to talk. Some knocked on the doors of different households and spoke to employers and domestic workers about what was happening. Some had press conferences. Most did a combination of these actions, even if they were contradictory, just to show that they felt strongly enough about the changes that they would resort to all possible means to get their voices heard. This meant that activists I interviewed spoke of picketing and protesting in front of Immigration officers’ buildings one day, and then meeting government officials the next to lobby them individually. All of these were strategic maneuvers designed to get them the policy outcome they sought: landed status for migrant caregivers.

And yet, as is the norm for government policy, they got what they asked for but with a catch. Migrant caregivers had to live and work with their employers for 24 months before they could even apply for permanent residency. This was NOT what activists sought because they wanted permanent residency upon arrival, which, as mentioned repeatedly in this blog, is still the call activists are making. And the government, under the Conservative party, is putting the issue on the table and threatening to remove live-in caregivers’ ability to apply for permanent residency.

History is repeating itself but with harsher and more punitive consequences: the federal government is going to remove live-in caregivers’ automatic ability to apply for permanent residency even when this goes against what migrant caregivers and Canadian families want. The federal government is going to do this even when this doesn’t accord with people’s democratic wishes because Immigration Minister Chris Alexander has the power to pass these changes through ministerial prerogative - there will be no parliamentary debate on this issue.

Also, since the proposed changes to the LCP will lead to a much reduced number of live-in caregivers getting permanent residency (click here for more information on why), then what will happen to the live-in caregivers who do not get permanent residency? Much like the temporary foreign workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) who found their contracts suddenly cut, it is very likely that the live-in caregivers who do not get PR will have to leave Canada. Those who don’t because they cannot afford to do so will become undocumented and, if caught, risk deportation. There have been more deportations under this current government than in any other period of history, according to human rights activists.

Get folks together. If you have an organization, figure out what you want to do. Do you want to write a joint letter to Chris Alexander? Do you want to start another petition? Do you want to plan a picket or a protest or a sit-in? Do it! NOW. Even the simple act of talking to current live-in caregivers and preparing them for what may happen is an important political move. So please, get involved and do something. Changes are going to be announced in the fall - likely in October - and if we don’t act now, it may be too late.

(For former and current caregivers who are reading this and who live in Toronto, please consider going to a planning meeting organized by our friends at the Caregiver Action Centre. Details can be found here).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How I decide which of the many conference cocktail receptions I will attend

Option One: cash bar


Option Two: open bar


Option Three: open bar with appetizers


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Overheard: “I only do theatre when I’m in it.”

Girl: Hey, want to watch Shakespeare in the Park tonight?

Boy (sniff): No.

Girl : Why? You busy?

Boy: No, I only do theatre when I’m in it. Also, Shakespeare in the Park doesn’t count as real theatre. They bastardize Shakespeare.

Girl: Wow, you’re such a dick.

Boy: One man’s dick is another man’s thespian.

Girl: I don’t even know what you’re trying to say. Shut up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When backpacker nomad meets discerning traveler


I have long written about the differences between me and MOTL’s traveling styles. In fact, we often joke that we would both be easily cast in”the Amazing Race” because our personality contrasts make us fodder for reality TV. 

Funnily enough, we may very well be witnessing a transformation in our relationship as the two of us embark on our next travel adventure yet…

…Traveling around India.

To be clear, I’ve lived in India. When I was in my early twenties, I was able to secure a placement in a now-defunct-human-rights-fellowship program sponsored by the Canadian government. My stay in India wasn’t without its challenges, which were mostly related to the fact that I was initially assigned to an organization with a corrupt and unethical white Canadian male boss with a disturbing colonialist fetish for South Asian women (a story saved for later). That said, my time in India was by far the best year of my life. I realize that I am probably thinking back to that year with rosy-eyed nostalgia but I don’t think my recollections diverge that much from reality. I lived and traveled with a group of brilliant, spirited, and generous women, all of whom I am still in contact with today. And I made a lot of great friends who very kindly welcomed me into their homes (and fed me endless plates of pakoras!) So returning back to India, a full decade after I first arrived there, is a meaningful homecoming of sorts for me. 

And so it follows that I am truly excited about showing MOTL the places where I used to go and having him meet my friends. MOTL has heard countless stories of our escapades there and I am certain he would love to put faces to names. 

Rather than merely visiting friends, though, MOTL and I are also taking the time to play tourist. And that’s when potential conflicts may arise. In fact, conflict number one started tonight:

Me: Ok, this is too much money to pay for a hotel.

MOTL: How much?

Me: $70!!!!  

MOTL: You’re kidding.

Me: No. I’m not. Listen, I’m already agreeing with you that we would only stay in places with hot water and air-conditioning. If you knew how me, and J, and M, and J traveled…*shakes head* Hot water is for wimps. Who needs hot water? 

MOTL: You’re no longer a poor intern. We can afford to stay in a nicer hotel.

Me: That’s not the point.

And on and on it went. There were, of course, points of compromise we learned to make in the course of our conversation. Though I traveled on sleeper class (un-air-conditioned train berths) all over India and even once took a bus ride from Jodhpur to Jaipur standing up for the entire 8 hour ride because the travel agent we consulted double-booked our tickets - which meant there were already other people in our seats when we boarded the bus - I recognize that MOTL might be more comfortable staying in air-conditioned carriages and might prefer booking tickets through official channels. In hindsight, my friends and I really should have done this back then. 

Still, will our moments of compromise be rare? How will the backpacker nomad compromise with the discerning traveler? Will the backpacker nomad realize that she is too damn old to travel like a hippie and that so-called luxuries like air-conditioning and hot water and comfortable mattresses are worthwhile investments in her advancing age? Will the discerning traveler come to the epiphany that perhaps life is best lived without an itinerary and that places “with character” - as his backpacker-hippie-nomad-partner calls them - are actually a great way to experience a community?

Check this space again in two months.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On conference questions

Courtesy of the awesome "Research Wahlberg" Facebook group.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Me at every single academic conference



I’m an extrovert but conferences that have 1000+ people which mandate going to different events like coffees and drinks and dinners to ‘network’ can be exhausting even for me. Day 1 is usually ok. Day 2, hey, so many panels, bring on the drinks after a long day. Day 3, blech. Day 4? I’m ready to crawl into bed and shun human contact for weeks.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

sunvapor said: What the fucks happening in Ferguson?



Alright, i’m gonna sit down and basically explain the situation in this ask so everyone of my followers knows why i’m so pissed.

Michael Brown, a 17 - 18 year old african american boy was unlawfully shot (8-10 times supposedly) by police in St Louis, Missouri on saturday, august 9th, 2014. He was unarmed, and had done nothing to attract suspicion other than the fact that he was black. His body was left in the street for 4 hours. (beware: somewhat graphic image linked)

There are several claims from witnesses (see: Dorian Johnson’s account and video [HIGHLY RECOMMEND READING UP ON HIS ACCOUNT, ITS VERY SPECIFIC] — Brown’s friend who experienced the situation first hand, La’Toya Cash and Phillip Walker— Ferguson residents nearby the incident),  that fall together in generally close claims. However, the only one who’s claim seems out of place is the police officer’s who shot Brown. Who, by the way, is put off on paid administrative leave AND who’s name remained under anonymity for his safety (However, attorney Benjamin Crump is looking for a way to force release his name). He claims that Brown began to wrestle the officer for his gun and tried attacking him after he told Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson (22) to “get the f*ck on the sidewalk”.

According to Johnson, after a minor confrontation on the officer’s part where he grabbed Brown by the neck and then by the shirt, the officer pulled his gun on Brown and shot him at point blank range on the right side of his body. Brown and Johnson were able to get away briefly and started running. However, Brown was shot in the back, supposedly disabling him from getting very far. He turned around with his arms in the air and said “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!” By this point, Brown and the officer were face to face as the cop shot him several times in the face and chest until he was finally dead. Johnson ran to his apartment and by the sound of his account, seemingly had some sort of panic attack. Later he emerged from his home to see Brown still laying in the streets. People were gathered with their cellphones, screaming at the police.

According to msnbc, the police refuse to interview Johnson at all, despite his amazing courage to come forward. They didn’t wanna hear it. They only listened to the cop’s account of it all and were vague with the media on what they thought happened. They’ve also refused to commit to a timeline in releasing autopsy results and other investigation information.

Numerous rumors are sweeping around such as Brown stealing candy from a QuickTrip, the store he emerged from calling the cops on him, Brown reaching for a gun, Brown attacking the cop first, ect. But these have all been debunked. (I know a lot of these have been debunked, but im having a hard time finding sources. if anyone could help out and link some legit ones id be SO grateful)

The event in and of itself was terrible, but now it has escalated beyond belief. Around 100 or more people, mostly black, went to the police station to protest peacefully. Things quickly turned bad as martial law got involved and authorities were bringing in K9s, tanks, heavy artillery, ect. The heavy police presence only made things worse as riots began to break out and looting and vandalism started. [ x ] [ x ] [ x ]

Now, as of very recently, the media has been banned from Ferguson. There is also a No-Fly zone above Ferguson for the reason of “ TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES ” as said on the Federal Aviation Commission’s website. Cop cars are lined up on the borders to prevent people from entering/leaving. Media outlets are being threatened with arrest. It completely violates our amendments and everything.

It’s becoming increasingly scary and difficult to find out whats going on over there. I’m afraid this is all the information I have, though. If anybody else knows anything about the situation, please feel free to add on or correct any mistakes i’ve made as i’m no expert on writing these things.

And as a personal favor, i’d really appreciate anyone to give this a reblog in order to spread the word. I think it’s a shame that this is going on in our own country yet so few people know about it. Help me make this topic huge and get this as much attention as possible.


This is utterly horrifying.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why I am part of “Canadians for an Inclusive Canada” and why you should too


Over the last week, one of the initiatives I helped start is an organization called, “Canadians for an Inclusive Canada”. As a long-time immigration researcher, I’ve gotten sick of waiting for my government representatives to do something about the inhumane and unjust direction that citizenship and immigration policy is heading towards under the leadership of Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, Employment Minister Jason Kenney, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Their vision of Canada isn’t one that I share. They see Canada as a country needing strong leadership against our “enemies” even if such leadership flouts democratic norms and requiring a return to traditional Conservative values where families and communities are the priority. Unfortunately, the unspoken yet intended effect of their policies is that their Canada is one where our enemies are those who are constructed as different - in the realm of citizenship and immigration policy, our enemies are live-in caregivers seeking a better life in Canada, refugees wanting protecting from political persecution, dual-citizens whose family backgrounds necessitate affiliating with two states, and communities of colour such as minority religious and cultural groups who are seen as too “different” from the Canadian Western European, middle-class, nuclear family ideal.

This means that under Conservative policy, only some families matter. This is why they don’t think twice about lowering the age for refugee and immigrant children to gain entry into Canada with their families. This is also why they believe that live-in caregivers’ ability to acquire permanent residency and reunite with their families should be curtailed.

For me, the promise of Canada - even as I have long criticized its policies and programs in this blog and in other sites - was one where people are accepted regardless of culture, religion, or belief. The history of exclusion that has long marked Canadian immigration policy was seen as shameful by previous governments which instituted the points-system that allowed people from different countries (and not just preferred Western European countries) to enter. Now, it saddens me to see that we are returning to our racist past. When Employment Minister Kenney has made speeches to Irish immigrant groups saying that Irish immigrants are Canada’s "preferred" migrants because they are "culturally compatible", it makes me wonder whether we are returning to a system where non-preferred migrants (i.e., those from developing countries with working class backgrounds) are fast becoming relegated to the second-tier. These statements, taken in conjunction with the Citizenship Act, changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and proposed changes to the Live-in Caregiver program, makes it clear that  Alexander, Kenney, and Harper are making Canada inhumane and unjust.

(For those of you who share this vision, please like our Facebook page: Also, please please please send a letter to your MP telling them to make sure that live-in caregivers continue being able to get permanent residency. You can do this by filling out the required fields here, which automatically looks up your MP using your postal code and sends a letter).

Friday, August 8, 2014
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander wants to change Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) by taking away live-in caregivers’ automatic ability to apply for permanent residency.
This proposal is a throwback to the 1900s. British, Irish, and other European women who came to Canada as “nursemaids” and “nannies” were automatically given permanent residency but Caribbean and Filipina “servants” weren’t, despite the fact that both groups came here to do the same work. It was only through the concerted efforts of domestic worker activists and Canadian families in the late 1970s that all migrant domestic workers were given the right to become Canadian.
And now Minister Alexander wants to turn back the clock and return Canada to an unjust immigration system. Find out more information at

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander wants to change Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) by taking away live-in caregivers’ automatic ability to apply for permanent residency.

This proposal is a throwback to the 1900s. British, Irish, and other European women who came to Canada as “nursemaids” and “nannies” were automatically given permanent residency but Caribbean and Filipina “servants” weren’t, despite the fact that both groups came here to do the same work. It was only through the concerted efforts of domestic worker activists and Canadian families in the late 1970s that all migrant domestic workers were given the right to become Canadian.

And now Minister Alexander wants to turn back the clock and return Canada to an unjust immigration system. Find out more information at

Thursday, August 7, 2014

With summer about to come to an end, this is how I feel when thinking about all the responsibilities the fall will bring


With September comes the following:

1. Job market stress

2. Job market stress

3. Job market stress

This year marks my first ever foray into the academic job market. Although I’m now drafting my application materials, it isn’t until the fall when job openings are announced. Considering the fact that there were two jobs advertised in my specific field for the entirety of last year, I am truly hoping that there will be more this year.  Wish me luck!