Chapter 2: Social Justice in Settlement Work

Concluding Remarks

This chapter has explored what is meant by the term social justice and its relevance to effective settlement work practice. Contrary to many “common sense” understandings of how to best support newcomers in their transition to life in Canada, it is important to recognize that successful integration is a two-way process that requires earnest efforts from both newcomers and host societies (Canadian Council for Refugees, 1998).

Central to this process is a thorough understanding of the Great Canadian Myth and its impact on discussions regarding what it means to be Canadian. The perception that Canada, as a nation of immigrants, cannot play host to systemic racism overlooks the legacy of colonialism in Canada and minimizes the systemic racism experienced by racialized immigrants throughout much of Canadian history.

The Great Canadian Myth is a powerful incubator of common-sense knowledge about life in Canada, and when challenged, the result can be quite disorienting. However, becoming more aware of the intersections of oppression, power, and privilege can help settlement workers abandon deficit-based approaches to providing support in favour of adopting anti-oppressive practices.

Anti-oppressive practices provide excellent opportunities for settlement workers to act as allies and in concert with service users (Clarke, 2011). Such partnerships result in more effective advocacy on behalf of service users and the coordination of actions that can bring about the systemic changes needed to eliminate unnecessary hardships encountered by newcomers to Canada.

Learning Activity 9: Revisiting “Canadian” Values ?

On your own, take a few minutes to revisit your response to Learning Activity 1 (the Canadian values you identified).

  • Have these values been challenged and/or disoriented?
    • If yes, why? If not, why not?
  • How might the conversations sparked by this chapter cause you to re-evaluate what it means to be Canadian?


Learning Activity 10: End of Chapter Quiz

This should be an online activity and can also serve as a marked assessment at the discretion of the instructor.

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