Decolonizing “Integration”: Exploring the Role of Immigrant and Refugee Newcomer Agencies

About the Author:

Hasrat Grewal Gill

As a settler, Hasrat lives, learns, and breathes on the unceded, ancestral, occupied and traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples- Sḵwx̱wú7mesh’ (Squamish, BC). She owes her gratitude to every ordinary person, who overcomes not-so-ordinary challenges on a daily basis; these are the people who never cease to inspire her, and the work she is doing. She has worked in the field of migrant community work for over five years and is passionate about advocating for migrant rights. Hasrat completed her MA degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University. Her graduate research focuses on decolonization of immigrant integration in Canada, while exploring the inclusion of Indigenous and immigrant perspectives into the idea of being ‘Canadian’.  Through her work she aspires to hold up the resistance of Indigenous peoples, the voices of the immigrants and refugees, their resilience and strength in the face of ongoing dispossession and colonial violence. She also works as an Instructor in the Department of Community Development and Outreach at Capilano University.

Migrant “host” countries in the global north demand that Newcomers “integrate” into their societies by demonstrating language skills, economic participation, socialization, and adjusting to the norms and values of the destination country.

However, the question that remains unanswered is: Who is the “host” population, and who creates the norms and values that the Newcomers are required to match up to? The concept of immigrant “integration” can be seen as a form of present-day colonialism that works to reimpose the idea of European hegemony over “other” racialized groups, and distracts from the recognition and redress of Indigenous and immigrant rights. The purpose of this research is to reflect on the following questions, identify the gaps, and suggest policy changes and implementation strategies.

  • How do we define and appraise the “integration” of Newcomers in Canada?
  • How do the colonial continuities, settler histories, geographies, and ethnicities shape the “integration” policies and practices in Canada?
  • In what ways do the Immigrant and Refugee Settlement sector and migrants perpetuate and solidify the ongoing colonial and neo-colonial narratives?

About the Author:

Hasrat Grewal Gill

As a settler, Hasrat lives, learns, and breathes on the unceded, ancestral, occupied and traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples- Sḵwx̱wú7mesh’ (Squamish, BC). She owes her gratitude to every ordinary person, who overcomes not-so-ordinary challenges on a daily basis; these are the people who never cease to inspire her, and the work she is doing. She has worked in the field of migrant community work for over five years and is passionate about advocating for migrant rights. Hasrat completed her MA degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University. Her graduate research focuses on decolonization of immigrant integration in Canada, while exploring the inclusion of Indigenous and immigrant perspectives into the idea of being ‘Canadian’.  Through her work she aspires to hold up the resistance of Indigenous peoples, the voices of the immigrants and refugees, their resilience and strength in the face of ongoing dispossession and colonial violence. She also works as an Instructor in the Department of Community Development and Outreach at Capilano University.