Dr. Marina Morgenshtern, associate professor of Social Work, and Uzma Danish, Ph.D candidate in social work have launched a new photo gallery display chronicling the employment journeys of skilled immigrants in Building B at Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area. The gallery is a showcase of a research project conducted by a team involving researchers from Trent Durham GTA and in partnership with staff from the regional government and nine research participants who have immigrated to the Durham Region with professional experience from their country of origin. The project used a photovoice methodology, that is, researchers gave digital cameras to participants and asked them to take photos and write reflections that recorded and expressed the challenges, hopes and surprises they encountered during their search to continue their professional careers in Canada.
When asked why it was important to use this photovoice methodology to uncover and record the stories of the participants, Professor Morgenshtern recounted a Nigerian proverb a friend had shared with her: “Until the animals get their own storyteller, the hunter remains the hero of all tales.” She drew a parallel to the Canadian immigration context, stating, “Canadian dominant society is often praised for its welcoming attitudes towards immigrants. But, the story is never complete until we hear all sides… By combining the power of photography with immigrants’ stories, we hoped to generate evocative understanding of the immigrants’ meaning-making about their experiences, and raise awareness in the community and among policymakers to promote systemic change.”
The photo gallery is open to the public in Building B at Trent Durham and invites viewers to take the time to explore the stories presented by the research participants, reflect, and begin to find ways to join the larger conversation and contribute to that systemic change. It runs until November 4, 2022, then will take its message to the community as a travelling exhibit.