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Migrant workers’ (non)belonging in rural British Columbia, Canada: storied experiences of Marginal Living

Susana Caxaj (Faculty of Health and Social Development, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada)
Luis Diaz (Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture, Kelowna, Canada)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 24 May 2018

Issue publication date: 15 June 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine the experiences of belonging and wellbeing among temporary migrant agricultural workers (TMAWs) in a rural setting in the interior of British Columbia, Canada.


A qualitative narrative approach informed by participatory action research principles was employed. In total, 12 migrant workers participated in two to four one-on-one interviews and/or focus group conversations.


The analysis revealed an over-arching theme of Marginal Living encompassing stories of always on the outside, mechanisms of isolation and exclusion; struggling for the basics, realities of worrying about daily bare necessities; and “nothing but a worker’s,” experiences of being reduced only to one’s labor. These storied experiences each impacted workers’ wellbeing and typically limited their ability to feel a sense of belonging. Yet, workers exerted agency and resilience through storied experiences of “one family and for those who come next.” Their efforts contributed to building a sense of community through mutual support and advocacy.


Very few studies have focused on the day-to-day experiences of this population and its influence on their sense of belonging and wellbeing. This study is also the first to examine this topic within this particular region (the rural BC interior). These findings can provide a starting point for improved program planning to address challenges faced by TMAWs in rural Western Canada. Further, they expand the understanding of concepts such as partial citizenship and structural exclusion as they apply in the day-to-day realities of migrant workers in rural BC.



Caxaj, S. and Diaz, L. (2018), "Migrant workers’ (non)belonging in rural British Columbia, Canada: storied experiences of Marginal Living", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 208-220.



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