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Canadian immigrant guidelines on how to become productive members of society: A postcolonial analysis

Isabella M. Krysa (Department of Management, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Vancouver, Canada)
Albert Mills (Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary University, Halifax, Canada)
Salvador Barragan (Department of Management, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, Canada)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 21 August 2017




The purpose of this paper is to critically look at how immigrants to Canada are informed and educated about how to become productive members of society. The authors adopted a postcolonial framework to unveil the underlying assumptions embedded in the messages that are conveyed to “teach” and “prepare” immigrants for the Canadian workplace. In particular, the authors focus on non-white immigrants because they form the majority of immigrants to Canada and at the same time data show that they experience particular socio-economic obstacles in their settlement process that European immigrants did not.


The authors apply postcolonialism as the theoretical framework. This approach allows the authors to analyze the relationship between the local subject and the encounter with the non-local other, in this case the immigrant who is from a non-European background. The authors conduct a Foucauldian critical discourse analysis on selected texts that serve as information sources for immigrants. These texts include government documents, immigrant information brochures, and workplace information books and booklets.


The analysis shows ideological positions that reveal discursive messages representing the non-white immigrant in binary terms. Such immigrants are represented in opposing (and inferior) terms to the local (largely white) Canadian citizen. By adopting a postcolonial lens, the analysis shows that the messages to acculturate immigrants reveal assimilationist features.

Research limitations/implications

The authors acknowledge that the authors’ own personal socio-political, intellectual, and ideological locations influence the approach, logic, research process, and the interpretation of the findings. For future research, other textual sources should be analyzed with regard to the messages they convey to immigrants as a form of education to see what kind of acculturation is conveyed.

Practical implications

This paper sheds light on the necessity to develop policies that not only aim to acculturate immigrants using integration strategies but also to carefully communicate and educate newcomers through messages that that do not stem from colonial assumptions.


This research points out the taken-for granted and oftentimes invisible forms of discriminatory practices in the workplace that appear non-discriminatory on the surface but are rooted in colonial thinking. Consequently, the authors challenge “mainstream” management theories concerning diversity in the workplace by questioning the underlying messages portrayed to immigrants.



Krysa, I.M., Mills, A. and Barragan, S. (2017), "Canadian immigrant guidelines on how to become productive members of society: A postcolonial analysis", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 6, pp. 482-500.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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