Integration and assimilation: Yukiko Tanaka, ‘Healing Toward Interdependency: Building Skills and Resistance Through Immigrant and Indigenous Employment’, Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2022


Abstract: Indigenous and immigrant communities have both been targeted by the Canadian government with employment interventions as a means of integration and assimilation. This article examines an employment program run by an immigrant settlement agency in Saskatoon, Canada, that brings Indigenous people and immigrants together to build their employment skills and learn about each other’s cultures. Through participant observation, interviews, and sharing circles, I analyze the possibilities for building solidarity and resistance to neoliberalism within the structure of a state-funded program. I build on Simpson’s (2016; 2018) concept of constellations of co-resistance to analyze the possibilities and limitations of resistance within the shadow state. While the program does adhere to some typical neoliberal “soft skill” development, both staff and participants negotiate within the constraints of the shadow state to enact resistance. This resistance to settler colonialism is expressed through a framework of healing: program staff draw from Indigenous knowledge to build interdependency and kinship between Indigenous people and immigrants as a means toward employment. This paper’s conceptual intervention is a synthesis of scholarship on assimilation of Indigenous people and integration of immigrants through employment training, and contrasting it with constellations of co-resistance. In doing so, I show that resistance to the state’s assimilationist aims is possible through alliances between Indigenous people and immigrants, but there are limits to the extent of resistance because of the shadow state structure.

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