Scripting the Right to be Canadian: Immigrant Experiences, Policies, and Practices in Southern Ontario
Ruthralingam, Noelyn Mithila
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The ways that categories of immigration are drawn and standards of successful citizenship are measured in Canadian society influence the ways that people script themselves to appear as worthy immigrant applicants and potential Canadian citizens. For immigrant hopefuls, scripting oneself using the language of immigration and positioning oneself as a deserving and desirable immigrant is crucial for gaining mobility and passage into Canadian society. In my thesis, I explore the literature surrounding processes and concepts like borders, mobility, good citizenship, the “white standard”, and racialization that serve as foundations and outcomes of scripting “good” immigrants and “successful” citizenship. I embed the experiences of my informants within an analysis of this literature as well as the processes of immigration outlined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). I find that scripting immigrant categories and citizenship can result in immigrants enacting only a limited Canadianness. Immigrant categories involve restrictive policies that can result in exploitation. I also offer that immigrants may live a double-consciousness through their transnationalism and constituting of “back home”. The larger hope for this project is to provide an understanding of the processes of scripting that work to make exclusive the right to be Canadian so that the vulnerability and suffering caused by the existence of hierarchies of citizenship can be tackled as a public issue and make for a more inclusive and equitable Canada.