Migration, Immigration & Mobility

School bus drives down a winding dirt road through the forested land of Northern Labrador.

Patterns of migration, immigration and the need for ongoing mobility to find work deeply influence life and create unique challenges in northern communities for both established residents and new arrivals. The Migration, Immigration & Mobility theme work teases out the specific experiences of women affected by these patterns.

The theme group explores the questions:

What affects the mobility of diverse women in northern communities, whether moving through social systems or between physical places within their community or region?

How do women cope with the rotational schedules associated with resource extraction and fly-in/fly-out jobs, whether they, their partner, or both have this type of schedule?

What supports and flexibility is required for diverse women to obtain education and training for non-traditional, in-demand jobs (such as those in mining or construction)?

How do new trade agreements, like the Trade and International Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), affect new or potential employment opportunities available to immigrant women? What are the experiences of foreign women who work in northern communities?


Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program & Women Migrants in Canada's North (2016) by Judy White et al. - The Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) in Canada has been shaped over many decades and has sparked numerous controversies as our understanding of human rights evolves, our national economy shifts, and the dangers workers are left vulnerable to are exposed. This report takes a look at the women who participate in the TFWP and how global economics, Canadian policies, gender stereotypes, and placement location affects their opportunities and experiences within the program. Unique to the analysis is discussion about the experiences of women TFWP participants who are placed in jobs in the North, a demographic that is rarely considered in critiques of the TFWP program.

Domestic Violence & Violence Against Women in the North (2016) by Carrie Wilcox et al. - Northern development introduces new stresses on northern populations including demanding work schedules, exposure to transient workers, inflated local economies, and greater access to illicit substances. This combination, paired with the legacy of colonization, has contributed to high incidence of violence against women in the North including domestic violence, assault, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Some women are at higher risk due to their personal mobility and migration patterns and the occurrence of these crimes conjointly affects the way diverse women can move through northern spaces and places. 

Fly-in & Fly-out Communities in Northern Canada (2016) by Wanda Leung et al. - The contemporary phenomenon of "fly in/fly out" work in northern Canada offers good income but presents numerous challenges. Women face unique barriers to getting and maintaining these jobs and households often struggle to accommodate their "migratory" member. While local economies benefit from workers buying goods and services, they also face challenges when accommodating an influx of new residents. These issues and areas for further research are presented in this comprehensive, 4-page factsheet.

Housing Market Fluctuations in Resource-based Towns (2016) by Wanda Leung et al. - During “boom” periods in northern, resource-based towns the incomes are good, new workers are drawn in, and the demand for local housing goes way up. This can make it difficult for many women to keep a roof over their heads, as women are not often able to access higher-paying resource jobs, local rent prices skyrocket, and subsidized housing is rarely available. Meanwhile, women who are able to afford to purchase homes during the “boom” are often left with unmanageable amounts of mortgage debt when the resource economy inevitably “busts” and high-paying jobs are lost. This fact sheet explores the impacts of resource-based economies on housing prices and diverse women's experiences of living through these "boom" and "bust" markets.

Resource-based Town Resilience: Strengthening Communities through Long-term Investment (2016) by Wanda Leung et al. - Northern towns that rely on resource extraction to sustain their economies face a number of challenges. However, through reinvestment in local infrastructure during boom periods these towns can build the resilience needed to continue thriving even after the “boom” periods have passed. Studies have shown this investment should focus on creating an environment that is supportive of diverse women who want to live, work, and age in their community. This fact sheet explains why and draws upon real-world examples of investment strategies.

Support Systems in Resource-based Towns for an Ageing Population (2016) by Wanda Leung et al. - To make northern communities sustainable they must be able to attract and retain a diverse population, from young working families to retired senior residents. This diversity brings with it the jobs, services, and local knowledge communities require to function well. However, there  many challenges to supporting senior residents in the North, which leads to many out-migrating to the South. This fact sheet takes a closer look at this issue and suggests approaches to overcoming some of these challenges through thoughtful investment, design, and community collaboration.

Webinar: Migration, Immigration & Mobility Issues in the North (2016) - This two-hour webinar captures information about the FemNorthNet project and it's core tenets of feminist intersectional analysis and inclusive practice. It also summarizes the complete research of the migration theme group, noted in the publications listed above.

Theme Group Members

Judy White, University of Regina
Noreen Careen, Labrador West Status of Women Council
Carmela Hutchison, President of the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada
Barbara Neis, Memorial University