Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0027
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0027
Scholars of immigration want to understand why people move across international borders, and what the consequences of migration are for the individuals involved, and the people and societies they enter and leave behind. Canada is a long-standing country of immigration, from the earliest British and French colonial settlers to contemporary migrants who hail from around the world. Today, about one in five Canadian residents was born outside the country and, in proportion to its population, more new permanent migrants arrive each year than in any other highly developed nation. The politics and social dynamics of this migration and settlement are shaped by Canada’s institutions: from federalism and the courts to its school systems and labor market regulations. These dynamics are also shaped by the country’s history of race and ethnic relations, which includes the political mobilization and government response to First Nations peoples and the country’s Francophone minority, which is largely but not exclusively concentrated in Quebec. Theoretically, the scholarship on immigration in Canada sometimes draws on ideas and research conducted in other countries, especially the United States, but scholars of Canadian immigration also provide important models for researchers and policymakers in other countries. The specificity of a Canadian approach is especially evident in federal/ provincial partnerships and the points system used to select migrants, in the country’s refugee determination system, and in its policy of multiculturalism.
General Overviews and Textbooks
An excellent starting point to understanding immigration in Canada is the overview by Li 2003 and Reitz 2004, both of which combine attention to history, current policy, and the socio economic integration of immigrants. For those wanting more detail on law and policy, Becklumb 2008, an overview of the Canadian immigration program, is a good primer. Li 2003 provides not only a descriptive overview of the topic but also an argument about how issues of race imbue Canadian immigration, historically and in the present. This is a theme developed further in Satzewich and Liodakis 2010, a textbook now in a second edition. Canadian scholars have been at the forefront of studying and debating issues of diversity and social cohesion, themes showcased in the volume edited by Banting, et al. 2007. In comparison, Canadian research on transnationalism has lagged that of scholars in the United States, but see the recent volume by Simmons 2010 on immigration and transnationalism in the Canadian context.
Banting, Keith, Thomas J. Courchene, and Leslie S. Seidle, eds. 2007. Belonging? Diversity, recognition and shared citizenship in Canada. Collection of papers originally presented at a conference held 13–15 October 2005, Montebello, Quebec. Montreal and Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press.
This collection of essays by leading scholars focuses on the dynamics of social cohesion given the diversity of Canadian society, including political recognition of immigrant populations, First Nations, and the country’s long-standing Francophone communities.
Becklumb, Penny. 2008. Background: Canada’s Immigration Program. Ottawa, ON: Library of Parliament.
This is a general overview of Canada’s immigration and integration policies that includes a discussion of legal framework, categories of immigrants, temporary immigration, judicial review, removal, integration and settlement initiatives, and the role of the provinces.
Li, Peter S. 2003. Destination Canada: Immigration debates and issues. Toronto: Oxford Univ. Press.
This accessible overview introduces many issues central to public debates over immigration in Canada, from the social construction of who, exactly, is an immigrant, to the economic dimensions of immigration and integration in a context of population renewal. Li provides informative figures and tables, and also argues for the importance of race in understanding immigration in Canada.
Reitz, Jeffrey G. 2004. Canada: Immigration and nation-building in the transition to a knowledge economy. In Controlling immigration: A global perspective. 2d ed. Edited by Wayne A. Cornelius, Philip L. Martin, James F. Hollifield, and Takeyuki Tsuda, 97–133. Stanford CA: Stanford Univ. Press.
Part of a volume comparing immigration and integration policies across a dozen countries, this chapter provides an excellent overview of the Canadian case, including attention to how institutions––from educational systems to labor markets––combine with Canada’s peculiar mix of multiculturalism and bilingualism to affect migration and integration.
Satzewich, Vic, and Nikolaos Liodakis. 2010. ‘Race’ and ethnicity in Canada: A critical introduction. 2d ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford Univ. Press Canada.
This book presents an accessible overview of theoretical debates on race and ethnicity, and applies them to Canadian history and the contemporary context, including chapters on immigration, multiculturalism, and transnational identities in a globalized context.
Simmons, Alan B. 2010. Immigration and Canada: Global and transnational perspectives. Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press.
Situated within a global approach to international migration, this book provides a critical perspective to immigration in Canada, spanning topics from the historical roots of Canadian migration to contemporary debates over refugees, temporary workers, undocumented migration and migrant trafficking.
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