The Location of Refugee Female Teachers in the Canadian Context: “Not Just a Refugee Woman!”
This paper explores intersectionality of oppression and social agency in refugee narratives of four female teachers from Yugoslavia who immigrated to Ontario and Quebec between 1994 and 1998. These narratives reveal a number of systemic barriers participants encountered in their new country, such as lack of coordination between immigra- tion and settlement services, lack of information about the teacher recertification process, systemic ignorance towards international teaching credentials and experiences, and a number of settlement practices that pushed the partici- pating women teachers to the margins of the Canadian educational system. In addition to reporting a number of systemic barriers to teaching, these women also revealed self-imposed psychological and culturally constructed barriers to settlement such as personal perceptions of having limited language competencies, of being “too old” to continue education, and of remaining permanent outsiders to Canadian ways of being. Women also discussed their choices and priorities in terms of their personal and professional lives and the ways in which these preferences facilitated and/or hindered their integration in the Canadian education system and society. The paper challenges the master narrative of refugeehood in Canada by exposing the ways in which race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, and professional identity, in addition to refugeehood, shape the oppression and the privilege of refugee women in the Canadian context.
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