Drawing on research with postsecondary migrant students with precarious legal status (those without permanent residence or citizenship), this paper examines the information participants learn about the settler colonialism and the histories of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Our findings suggest that like other residents of Canada, participants often access varied, limited, and often incorrect information. We propose that such variation in the accuracy and depth of information is not accidental, as accurate histories and contexts disrupt the narrative of a welcoming Canadian state. However, we also found that despite their immigration status, and experiences of precarity and deportability, a large proportion of participants made concerted efforts to learn about Indigenous peoples, histories, and contexts. Given our findings, we recommend that scholarship on immigrant integration in white settler societies like Canada account for settler colonialism for two reasons. First, to avoid engaging in methodological nationalism, or the focusing on nation-states as discrete or bounded units of analysis through which social relations operate. We focus on a specific and less examined aspect of methodological nationalism: a disregard for Indigenous sovereignty and nations. Second, to understand how differently situated im/migrants, including precarious legal status migrants participate, uphold, and resist the structures that produce and maintain settler colonialism.
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In Canada, treaties organize the relationship and responsibilities between some Indigenous nations and settler colonists including land rights, autonomy, and identity rights. These were outlined in the 1982 Constitution and Charter for Rights and Freedoms (MacDonald 2014). Yet, this constitutional entrenchment did not improve conditions, leading to further calls for change.
While terms like Aboriginal, First Nations, and First Peoples are often used to refer to Indigenous people in Canada, we have opted for the latter unless using direct quotations. We recognize Indigenous peoples arrive in Canada from elsewhere, but for the purposes of this paper, we use Indigenous peoples to signify those present in what we now call Canada.
A process that involved physical, sexual, and emotional violence and forced assimilation.
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We use im/migrant to signify the permanence and unidirectionality associated with immigration and lack thereof associated with migration, and by extension, PLS (De Genova 2005).
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We would like to thank the participants in the two research studies for sharing their stories and time. We would also like to thank Francisco Villegas, Linn Clark, and the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful feedback.
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Villegas, P.E., Barrie, B., Peña, S. et al. Integration, Settler Colonialism, and Precarious Legal Status Migrants in Canada. Int. Migration & Integration 21, 1131–1147 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-019-00670-3
- Settler colonialism
- Indigenous peoples
- Precarious legal status