The volunteering dogma and Canadian work experience: Do recent immigrants volunteer voluntarily?

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This article deconstructs the now common practice of immigrant volunteering for the purpose of upgrading or practicing job-related skills in Canada. The analysis draws on the findings of two separate qualitative studies related to the integration of immigrant adults in Southern Ontario. The first study (Wilson-Forsberg) focused on the settlement and adaptation experiences of immigrants (both men and women) from Latin America and the second study (Sethi) examined the impact of employment on the health and well-being of immigrant and refugee women from the visible minority population. Having re-analyzed our interview data to highlight the motivations behind participants’ volunteering and their perceptions of the experience, the findings suggest that immigrants volunteer to gain Canadian experience, to maintain remnants of professional identity, and to overcome loneliness and boredom. Intersectionality analysis of participants’ multiple intersecting identities reveals that immigrant volunteering is more complex than merely volunteering for upgrading human and/or social capital skills. The article concludes that, while volunteering can be beneficial to foster the social integration of immigrants, it appears to do little to enhance their economic integration.

Access Free Abstract


Wilson-Forsberg, S., & Sethi, B. (2015). The volunteering dogma and Canadian work experience: Do recent immigrants volunteer voluntarily? Canadian Ethnic Studies, 47(3), 91–110

About This Study:

Intervention(s): Group
Intervention Duration: Not specified
Relevant ORR Program: Refugee Support Services
Study Type: Suggestive evidence
Full Text Availability: Paid
Direction of Evidence: Negative impact
Strength of Evidence: Suggestive
Population(s): Refugees
Gender(s) of Participants: All
Age(s) of Participants: Adults

Relevant Evidence Summaries:

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: