Join University of Alberta researchers Andrew Magnaye & Shanika Donalds for a discussion on the impact of the Covid – 19 pandemic on immigrant communities and how it has affected their caregiving responsibilities for family members
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Matthew’s from communities United and the United way. One of the sponsors for this webinars series we’re hosting. Thank you so much. We also have Janet fast who happens to be the supervisor for both Shanika and Andrew it’s actually through Janet’s work and research partnership with MatchWork that we got connected with both Shanika and Andrew.
Thanks Janet. thank you very much, everyone for joining us in today’s session. It’s Friday, the last day of October, before we jump into November already, most of us experiencing winter way too early, for my opinion. And I think by this point, all of us have either gotten very comfortable with doing webinars and meetings through zoom and other platforms, or at this point completely, honestly fatigued and tired of it, but we have to make the best of our situation. And we’re trying to do the very best we can through sessions like this.
What MatchWork is trying to do is as we connect with organizations across the United States and Canada, and with research organizations like the University of Alberta with AGE-WELL, we’re coming across a lot of people and organizations that are doing truly innovative things in the space of the nonprofit sector, in the space of employment and support training for marginalized populations. And we thought it’d be fantastic if we could somehow connect these individuals and these organizations with their peers in other jurisdictions.
And that way, perhaps cross-pollinate solutions, allow for better collaboration and partnerships on initiatives and topics that may be of shared interest.
For today’s session we’ve got individuals and organizations from different parts of Canada , representing different organizations, largely in implement supports, but also working with immigrants in terms of providing transitional supports, immigration support , employment and training.
Very quickly. I want to acknowledge, the series sponsors we have on today. One of our key sponsors is Communities United and the United way. Thank you Matthew, for being a good partner for the series here and for MatchWork. They have generously supported the series to continue after today’s session. And the intention is to bring on other speakers and organizations to share best practices, solutions they’re developing and even challenges that they’re facing that they’re trying to address.
Our other partners also include Zerrow.com, a technology provider based here in Alberta, providing apps, website development and data tools for a number of organizations in the sector and AGE-WELL. AGE-WELL is one of our primary funders here at MatchWork.
They have generously supported a research project between us, the University of Alberta, University of Waterloo, University of Sheffield and a number of other organizations around, seniors in the sector and caregivers. And this is a three-year project, which we’ll be sharing more outcomes and results from.
But it’s actually a good segue because through that project, we got connected with Shanika here and Andrew, we give a quick wave ,
Both are PhD candidates at the university of Alberta working under Professor Janet Fast at the Department of Human Ecology. And what got us excited about this topic was their focus on immigrant support and, the impact of COVID on immigrants and immigrant communities here in Canada.
And so it’s been exciting to be able to have them here. And I’d like to give the mic and podium up to Shanika and Andrew to provide a bit of introduction, tell us who you are, what your research is about and more about yourselves before we dive into the session.
Hi everybody. Thank you so much for coming. And I really want to thank Kenya and all the sponsors for helping set up, you know, these really great info sessions for so many of the kind of issues that are encompassing our daily lives, whether it be in our professional or personal lives, but.
No very much long before I knew , transnational family caregiving and transnational families in general was an area of research. I’ve long been a part of one. So I’ve had , you know, almost half of my family as I, as I grew up , in the Philippines. So mostly of my dad’s side. And while we were trying to maintain our care relationships domestically with older relatives here within Canada , we always had our eyes and ears and our hearts across, across the road to the Philippines, for all the care needs that are, that have arisen since I was a child. From older grandparents to now a new generation of, people aging kind of across borders. And knowing that, you know, especially for Filipinos, we are a very mobile people.
So we will find ourselves in many different reaches of the world. But it doesn’t , negate the fact that we kind of maintained a really strong kind of bonds. So I definitely come at my research with a lot of lived experience about what it means to be parts of these families. And , as a caregiver, to my grandma who , suffered from dementia and who we had in the home up until she passed away , in , 2017, it’s something that is still very much a part of my perspective and how I view things. So I’ll throw it over to Shanika to introduce yourself as well.
Thanks, Andrew. ,As Kenya said, I’m a PhD student in the. Department of human ecology. And my research is focused on family connections across the life course with migrants and compassion. And whether those connections are as a result of need and care or support, but recognizing that care and support goes both ways because migrants do get care and support from their families and the home countries.
To look at what that means to the migrants as they transition into later life themselves. Like Andrew I’m a migrant here in Canada third generation of migrants in my family because we’ve always gone all over. And so we in my family, now are spread out across I’m from Jamaica.
Lots of my siblings are in the US. Some are in the UK and we are navigating and negotiating the care of older relatives. So my there’s my mother-in-law and my husband’s side, as well as my mother on , my side and what that looks like across , across borders and across different tasks on different phases in life and how we go about navigating that as we go forward.
So, you know, we’re both looking forward to your questions and. We’re very excited to be here to be doing this to not only have a chance to talk about or research to people other than Janet, hello, Janet, and, each other, but to a very different group of people who are actually working with migrants. So we’re very excited about this connection that’s happening right now.
Thank you both for being here. For the audience, who is participating in today’s virtual panel session. If you have a question, please type it into the chat box. If you’d prefer to ask your aquestion, using video and audio, let me know, and we’ll be able to enable that for you for the question session.
We also have a couple of polls and I’m going to throw the first one up before Andrew and Shanika begin their presentation.
And the question is, do you see yourself as a caregiver? So on your right-hand panel of the platform. You should see the poll. And this is actually a very interesting question.
And for context, when MatchWork began working with Janet Fast and the University of Alberta, it became very clear how little we knew about the world of caregiving when you brought in our own biases and stereotypes about who a caregiver is. And that really surprised us and made us realize that perhaps a lot of people as well have got their own biases, expectations, stereotypes about who a caregiver is.
So just to run up that question, feel free to answer it, and I’ll turn it back to Andrew for the next few minutes here.
Thanks Kenya. Yeah. And just to correct everybody, I’m actually, I was born in Winnipeg so I am first generation Canadian, go Winnipeg Jets, but it still was very much instilled in me at a very early age that we always would keep ties with our families, even though they’re not close to us.
And what was really interesting about when Kenya reached out to us after Janet and made the connection was the fact that, you know, Kenya himself, if he was already involved in some of those kinds of things, Kinds of things in terms of care and, and navigating distances in borders, but you know, the formal aspect of it, the fact that it’s actually occurring within research circles, it was something that was, that was new to him.
So we were really hoping today to just kind of walk kind of everybody through just kind of a snapshot of what it’s kind of been like. You know, within our lived experience, between my families and Jamaica’s families, of trying to deal with this pandemic and how it’s really, you know, thrown a wrench into something that has already been something that’s been quite challenging for families to maintain.
So some of the guiding questions that we have for debate are how have transnational ties been maintained since the start of the pandemic, how COVID has impacted immigrant communities and their ability to care for their loved ones in close proximity, but even more so to those kind of abroad and, you know, what are those potential long term impacts of the pandemic?
That, to be honest, we all are very much still, you know, kind of in the dark about just because it seems like everything is changing and. There’s always a constant swell of news that we have to process and see how that kind of impacts us at the individual and the family level. And Kenya already threw up the poll and I think what was interesting about this, and I want to ask Shanika, and I get a kind of interject as well is, you know, when did you actually recognize that you were a carer? Like at what point did that become something that was sailing to you and to Kenya as well? You know, what was that aha moment for you that made me realize that, you know, I am, I do fit into this, you know, this category.
So, thanks, Andrew. I’m going to shift it a little bit because I’ve been looking at the participants who are coming in and I’ve noticed that, that, It’s a lot of persons from agency. So people who are working with people, but I think it’s still even relevant to our participants in their own lives. So oftentimes we don’t see ourselves as carers because if we have a family or a friend who we are doing something for, it’s what we’re doing, we’re doing it because of that relational piece.
And so. The idea around care, and referring to yourself as a carer is almost still very much grounded in this. I’m doing it because I’m getting something back almost, and not just I’m doing it because there’s this relational piece. So when we, as we are working with, Different groups and having those conversations with them and trying to help them to navigate their care.
Given it is very important for us too. Tease out what is happening in their lives. So someone who is sending, remittances, for example, to a family member back home every month, so that they are able to get groceries and all of that, or they can be able to pay their medical bills may not necessarily see themselves as a caregiver, but they are doing an activity that enables a level of care.
So. Just wanted to bring that up. Andrew
because what actually sparked this particular session when Jackie Ailes from the university of Alberta connected us. my story is that I’m a first generation Canadian, so immigrated here for schooling. didn’t expect to stay, but ended up staying. But my mum is back home in Kenya. And throughout my time here in Canada, there’s been the annual visits home.
There’s been the different supports and services. We try and coordinate from here back to support my mom. Who’s getting into that elderly stage of life, but in my head, I never thought of myself as a caregiver. Until I had that first conversation with both of you and the research work that you’re doing.
And that turned on the light bulb, a light bulb moment for me to make me realize I never thought of myself as a caregiver because I thought of caregivers as looking up to those swept terminally ill or invalid. But then talking to Jackie, talking to Janet, talking to you solely came to the realization that I’m a caregiver.
And then amongst the immigrant community here, there’s a lot of people who do exactly what we’re doing. But there hasn’t really been a discussion about our roles as caregivers and our role as caregivers from a distance. And one of those poignant points with COVID-19 is trying to help my mum move from one place to another place.
All done virtually with technology. When my mum didn’t compete great five and can barely use a smartphone. So trying to leverage and navigate that made me realize just how many other people are going through that similar situation. Yeah. So, just through looking at the agencies here, one of the things, we often look at people, in terms of their.
As migrants and in terms of their real realities of what’s happening here. So we’re helping them to settle. We’re helping them to, to make those connections, to set up their lives here. But one of the things that we know through research is, people’s lives, migrants lives extend across the borders because they do maintain those very strong ties with their families.
Back home. And so those things highs don’t break. They don’t necessarily, they don’t necessarily break deteriorate for some people they do, but that’s not always the case. And for lots of people, migration is, the expectation is that they will be able to give back, to their families because. It is whole families survive.
It is a coping mechanism that there is this continued resource that’s shared between members to keep the family unit go in whether here or there. Andrew. Thanks. Should I go? So, yeah, so we did have, you know, as part of the discussion question, if anybody wants to touch base on this with you open up the Q and a, or if you want to open up in the chat, but do you know, what are some of the ideas maybe that you’ve heard from some of your clients or from some of the, you know, attendees themselves, you know, how do you remain connected to family members that are across, you know, such a vast borders?
And this was a, you know, this was a difficult question to ask back in January and February, before even the pandemic was something that was on everybody’s radar. But the fact that, you know, all of this work and a lot of what we’re doing both, can I get an a in terms of our research is now under this, no, this kind of veil or this kind of added layer of complexity in terms of the pandemic, it made us think about, you know, what does transnational care now look like?
No under this guys and we’re have been fortunate enough to stay connected to our family members. And we’re getting a firsthand glimpse at what’s actually being done, you know, within some of our smaller communities back in Jamaica and back in the Philippines and how people are really trying to manage, a lot of obstacles that are in their way.
So our next slide, you know, this is one that we’ve both used in the past in terms of talking about what does the act of transactional family care actually look like? So we have very, very kind of fundamental into the core of it is providing materially. So whether it’d be remittances, like Shaneika had, had brought up earlier, the coordination of care, just like Kenya brought up in terms of trying to kind of help them all move.
the provision of goods in person visits, which the pandemic now is something that is a huge question, Mark. And it’s something that is so, That is so salient to, I think all of our ability between the three of us to maintain those really strong relationships. And I think it was even, you know, I think we all had plans, you know, within the last maybe year or so to, to make a visit back home to family members.
But we had to, you know, because of the pandemic have to upend and cancel them. And, you know, one of the hugest, and especially what I’m getting from my family, this is the only way to stay in touch with them is through information and communication technologies or what they like to dove in the research as, you know, ritual co-presence.
So essentially it is the, you know, fanciful word for all of these zoom meetings, all of these Daniel meetings that people are having to live their lives by. So if, if you want to add anything to the discussion we’ll yep. And so, we know that. As families have tried to, care across board, is there are those tangible and those intangible pieces, you know, the, the caring for, so those tangible pieces we’re sending money.
We’re maybe sending goods back home, or paying for services to come in and so forth. So I can’t say it, what they call the box and. What they call it in the Philippines, but we, in the Caribbean, we talk about barrels and, there’s a lot of work that’s done on looking, children left behind and this phenomenon of Christmas, Easter summer that they would get these barrels of goods.
And there’s this. Discourse that talks about the sending of love. When parents have to leave to send their, they’re sending love in these barrels, back to the children, to help them, to, to let them know that they’re not forgotten. And families have done these for. A long time and they’ve always found, lots of different ways to continue to care.
And as Andrew spoke about those in-person visits, where it may be, for in Kenya’s case where he would have done that once a year, ensuring that these doctor visits and going to make sure that the specific visits I’m guessing would have been happening for his mom or just to. Physically be there to be, to spend time with, to have that time with the person or to give the person who is there providing the care two weeks break so that you, someone else can do it while they can get some bit, some rest fight as well.
So, There are these different ways that people engage in transnational family cares and you will hear your clients talk about them sometimes. and within the context of COVID, all of these have been shifted, information on technology and communication technology have that has increased. I have never spoken more to my own family.
Over the phone than I have in the last couple of months, because you could before no, this is for sure the only way that you’re going to have that cope presence. And so it has shifted, it has shifted how people are engaging and, a lot of those emotional. Support that is happening across borders because people can’t physically be there or they can’t send remittances because they are themselves struggling, financially because of loss of employment or so on as a result of.
And Andrew and Shaneka, I’m curious in the research that you’re undertaking, what is the role of the nonprofit sector in supporting immigrant communities? Especially during a time like the pandemic? Hmm. Hmm. So, so I do know that, a lot of, Nonprofit for, especially for older adults, I don’t know specifically for immigration, what has happened, but I know that there was the, I’m not going to get the name.
Right. But someone I’m sure from EMC, maybe may not the lender phone where I think through. So our tell us there were these phones that were being made available to older adults. So obviously they would have been able to remain in contact with their families, if they had it because some people were using, the senior centers as basis to go use, for computer usage and to make those connections.
And when those close. So I know that came in. So not specifically for migrants, but for. Older adults. I know that happened. I think there is a space for opening up, the discussions because people who are providing care locally or within Canada, I think have, there’s been a lot of, Initiatives around one, recognizing, those caregivers to ensuring that they are supported.
But I tend to find that migrants often are not talking about the fact that they are providing care. And so they’re, they’re navigating a lot of things on their own. And so. There is potential for the not-for-profit sector to expand and to start in those conversations in terms of what it’s looking like, and possibly, maybe forging ties with other agencies in different countries that could help to create that cross border support.
Thank you for that. Yeah. I can speak a little bit candid to the case that’s going on kind of within the Philippines. And, the Philippines has always had a very community first mentality whenever it came to the responses to anything from, you know, Widespread emergencies like flooding or fires or, or I know even back in January, there was a, a volcano eruption that they had to deal with even before it depends on it.
So it’s really been a banner here for some of my family back home, but they’re there. What they do is that, because of the impulse lockdowns, because of the pandemic, they have had to rely solely on community officials and community supports that. Aren’t always the best and aren’t always able to kind of meet the needs of those within the community.
So everything from getting the word out to everybody, no matter how far or how rural your home may be of what’s currently going on, supplying PPE, trying to get people in touch with their families. this was something that Kenya and I were discussing, prior, but because of that heavy reliance on information technologies, there have been rolling brownouts in my, In my parents’, kind of hometown in the Philippines for I’m guessing like the entire year, just because of such a reliance on the power infrastructure in grade there.
And we have a weird little definition. Yeah. And a sheet up just to discuss how we think of caregiving, not just in the formal, formal lens, but as family caregiving, in terms of any care provided. No, we sometimes hear the word informal. but we, we like to just adult family caregiving as something that’s being done within members of families where they’re providing care to one another.
And whether it be domestic within Canada or transnational, you know, spanning across borders and just to touch base a little bit on some of what the research has kind of been telling us. And this was some, this was which kind of, within the body of the transnational literature pre pandemic is. No immigrant families are getting older and caring for loved ones here in Canada and abroad is getting more complex and trying to negotiate, trying to manage those responsibilities is something that not only our, you know, our systems, maybe not so equipped for, by families themselves on an individual level haven’t had.
Those conversations, you know, those care conversations. And I know some of our, you know, partners with, on carrier with Alberta who were in attendance today can, can speak to what it actually means to have those Cadbury candid conversations. But the complexity comes in and trying to have those conversations across borders and trying to negotiate well, what is it that’s going to be done?
What is our day to day plan? What is our month to month plan? For the care of person, X, Y, and Z, but also having them being involved with it and having their agency still be very much a part of those discussions and like our, you know, our partners who were on the call today, you know, in the employment sectors employment is at the crux of being able to provide for your families, not just here, but even with me.
Indebted nature that you feel to provide for your families back home, what, from whatever country, you know, you have, you have loved ones then, but being able to secure stable and gainful employment is something that pre pandemic we noticed within a lot of the immigrant communities, has, has been a, or, or at least, gaining employment that is stable enough to provide long-term.
As opposed to more contracted out work or as opposed to more seasonal or, or temporary kind of work and throw the pandemic into that ranch, then we’re even further down the road of trying to kind of solve some of these inequities. But Shaq, I don’t know if there’s anything you wanted to touch base on that side.
No, no, no. Yeah. And, and just another, kind of a fast, I didn’t get into like what my particular research we’ll try to be focusing on, but I’m really looking at, you know, for the families, for the immigrant families within Canada, and I’m sure, everybody in attendance, as many clients who were kind of in the process of looking to sponsor and looking to try to get, you know, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, to come to the, come to Canada to immigrate here.
But, you know, transnational families that can tonight they’re often caught in these very lengthy waiting processes and what these processes entail are, you know, waiting to find out when, you know, the lottery will open again, what the specific criteria for applications are going to be like. You know, getting everything set up, having the assistance to, to, to fill out those forms, because if anyone’s tried to fill out a government form, it isn’t, you know, it isn’t the easiest and, you know, the challenging, the challenging experience that families are facing currently.
And I have a few more slides kind of closer to the end that kind of talk about, you know, what the current situation has led up. And there’s been quite a few developments in the last few weeks on this front. so even. Considering this piece of my research prior to the pandemic was something that was mired in a lot of, a lot of contexts, a lot of kinds of understanding what the, you know, the processes the experiences are like for individuals, but then now with the pandemic kind of layered on top of it, again, it is something that is just, almost, almost like tougher to wrap your head around, even if you’re, you know, researching it, or if you’re, you know, one of the families who were in those positions, it’s trying to, you know, apply for your loved ones to come to Canada.
Do you want to touch on? Yeah. So, so we know that we’re then context of the pandemic transnational family care has become, more challenging. There, there are these issues that have come up, the border closures where persons can’t travel, or even if you could travel, migrants have to navigate the.
You may need to isolate for two weeks when you get there, you may need to isolate, well, you will need to isolate for two weeks when you come back here. And so what does that mean in terms of the amount of time that someone can afford to take off, to go back, to visit families for whatever reason? As Andrew spoke about the whole family re reunification process.
And the fact that that has been, put on hold and kind of opened back. I was reading something that the deadline for the grandparents program that was only recently reopened is a 3rd of November. So within the context of all of this, that are that’s happening within the lives of migrants, There are these very quick deadlines that if they want to look at reunification, they’re also facing and we spoke about travel restrictions as well.
but the economic contractions, so yesterday world bank, Put out a report on remittances global remittances and did their projections, and they are projecting a 22% decline in remittances as a result of the pandemic. no for countries like Jamaica, remittance is not just at family level, but at the macro level, it’s part it’s looked at as part of the GDP of the country.
Right. Well, there is that whole spill don’t effect that’s happening in terms of not just what migrants can do for, for their families, but right up to what governments, the resources that they will have to be able to do for, to do for the, their nationals as well. And that is very stark because we’re also looking at the implications for the migrants here who.
So in my, nine to five job, I work in yourself then. And within that sector, we employ a lot of, migrants, especially in dying in housekeeping areas. And what has also happened in seniors, housing and long-term care is that. They are, there is a requirement, no, for single site. So we’re persons could have, had second and third jobs in similar, spaces.
Those are, those have basically been, it’s been mandated that they can’t do that anymore. If their primary employer is a longterm care facility. So, There’s that impact where someone at the beginning of the year could have planned on maybe a full-time and two part-time incomes that, that has been eroded.
And, you know, Andrew and I were talking and we, we were saying that having a second and third income is not a boat. Having additional nice things. It’s about needing a second and third income, because those form part of your total survival, resource there. Also the pandemic is also highlighting this uneven access to resources, the uneven access here, as well as the, on even access where the migrants are from.
we saw initially that, Different people. For example, with a Serb were able to access the Serb different, categories. And it was eventually opened, opened up. We saw the implications as well of what happened with temporary workers coming to Canada, temporary workers who would have been calming, For a six month period to earn, to be able to go back into care.
So you have all of these, impacts that are happening, across both the Canadian context, as well as where the migrants are from. And I can definitely touch on that. Shenika the experiences, you know, you, you give that really good, kind of a preview about what it’s been like to be a family here within Canada, trying to navigate.
COVID and trying to navigate those transnational family responsibilities that you have. And for a lot of the members of my family back home in Philippines, so much of the interaction of the economy has been happening at the kind of service and hospitality level. So I have a lot of family members, you know, most of my older cousins who work in those sectors, tourism is, is, is the biggest provider for the community.
But with those, with those, with those ties cut because of the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of family members who’ve been out of work for months now and who, even with their, you know, with their own salaries and their own income still rely heavily on families. From Canada and from other parts of the world, to be able to, you know, propel them to a certain level of, comfortable financially and, and, and another big kind of factor that has been coming up is, the cost of healthcare, which is something that we haven’t listed on the list, but just kind of, you know, came up in.
So a few discussions I’ve been having with family members this week. my town in Philbin doesn’t have, you know, it has one local hospital, but it doesn’t have very much of a. The infrastructure that Edmonton, or even a of smaller accountants in Alberta would have. So if there there’ve been pushed to their limits since March and, and it is almost now from kind of an anecdotal level, we’ve heard it’s a first come first serve kind of a basis in terms of if you can pay for healthcare or if you can pay for the adequate support from your family, which would only be possible for, for our family members, you know, back home with the help of.
You know, their, their loved ones abroad. So it’s, it’s been a very, strenuous time for a lot of the people within, the, you know, more, transnational communities trying to navigate this pandemic. And we, we are really cognizant of the fact that in our research and in our work that we do have to be very sensitive to not only the experiences that they’re having right now.
trying to navigate it here in Canada, but two of those members back home. And so their responsibilities, because, you know, even prior to the pandemic, there has been in a lot of their research, almost feelings of a kind of learned helplessness. Like almost like you feel like you don’t know what you can do, or you’re never doing enough for these transnational ties and families that you met, you know, in your heart of hearts, want to support to, to, to the level, or at least to the livelihood that you’re able to from your family, you know, So it’s, it’s going to be really interesting seeing how, how these talks and how these, how these, you know, concerns are going to pan out.
while we kind of move on to the end of this year and into next and to touch on, the reunification program again. So prior to the pandemic in January, 2020, the federal government, went back to the drawing for, to decide how to make the process more fair and, and allow. more even competition for, for those interested in trying to reunify grandparents.
So there was no word up until, when we were hoping to hear back kind of within the first quarter of 2020. And of course with the pandemic hitting, we didn’t hear back formally until this is two weeks ago, you know? So like at the start of October, That you know, prospective sponsors can still fill out an online form just to express interest.
And like Shaneika said, the due date for that with November 3rd and from that pool, and they’re expecting numbers into the hundreds of thousands of applicants, they will choose a 10,000 spots where the. Chosen applications for interests we’ll then go through the full application process. And by there by then having to prove that, you know, they have the financial backing to support somebody within the country, for a year for, I think it’s a set period of time, about 10 years, and also to go through just all of the processes and paperwork that that happens.
So even if you’re, if you were selected to be one of those lucky 10,000. This process from, from immigration lawyers and from the news that you hear, that are looking into this kind of work in advocacy on, on, on behalf of immigrants of the immigrant community, say this process takes anywhere from about 18 months to two years, on top of whatever else is going to be layered on top of it with quarantines and with pandemic.
and then with measures that have to be in place during these kinds of, migration processes, which to this point they’re still really trying to unpack and unravel and figure out what exactly it’s going to look like. So new, if you are one of these, you know, hundreds of thousands of applicants that are, are better going in before, before the third, we’re just praying to be, you know, one of those hand selected for you from the, from the lottery to, to get to the next phase.
And then through there, it’s, it’s just another hurdle and another obstacle that you have to get over, like you continue to do. So, and a lot of these families, you have been at this process for years. Whether it be when they were in different lotteries in previous years, but if they didn’t make it to the deadlines that they had imposed, when there was a first come first serve basis online.
So it’s very much, and there’s no way to test them for it. So it does not keep track of how your efforts have been since you’ve been trying to apply to get you a loved one here to Canada. So every year is a, is a brand new is a brand new experience. It’s like going to, you know, the corner store or the gas station, and literally like buying a lottery ticket.
And hoping every year that hopefully, so from the perspectives, are you anticipating with the COVID-19 pandemic there being a drawn out process of up a reduction in the number of family members who could be able to qualify for this program leave alone. And they actually complete the process to be reunited with their families.
And that’s definitely another kind of, you know, added layer there to Kenya because once those 10,000, Applicants successfully get their full applications in with full proof of everything. There is still another screening process and, you know, tests and physicals and all these, all this slew of other additional information that the families have to provide.
And with very, you know, very tight deadlines considering we’re in a pandemic. So, and the end for some of those things. So say for instance, with the physical, for your grandmother, That has a set deadline, that if it passes to a certain date, we would have to get another one done. And you, weren’t simple physicals that you could go to.
You know, you can work at the corner and get it done by the local, you know, by the local GP kind of in your community. They are very formal, really drawn out physicals that, that take a lot of time, money and trying to navigate through a pandemic. I don’t think anybody in my family has been to one of the bigger city centers since the start of the pandemic that you have to go to.
So my town is about two hours away from Manila, but I’ve had zero family that have been able to even make it past the kind of town border to get into Manila because of the lockdown restrictions that they have there. So considering all of those different factors and the process that families here have to be tried to then negotiate and navigate for a lot of their family members back home.
I do see kind of a backlog. Kind of occurring and, and, you know, hopefully the, you know, the federal government has kind of thought about these kinds of different processes and given a little bit more empathy to the application process and, you know, maybe set out maybe broader deadlines or, or, or additional help or support, you know, for families through this process and your thoughts to add to that as well.
just also that, you know, family, the family reunification process is also a boat. There is a survival within Canada element because when people have small children, having a family member, a grandmother, for example, or a grand, a grandparent, I should say, And the household could mean the difference between having both parents working or one having to stay home with the children because of the cost of childcare.
when, so it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s also about the survival off the family and being able to maximize their resources. I w I was very much, you know, a product of the grandparent reunification program from back in the eighties and nineties, and. To think about where my family would be without my grandmother, who was able to provide that care for us and, you know, dozens of my cousins and neighbors and, and a bunch of things, you know, is, is, is really why kind of, I keep my heart invested.
We’ve been in this kind of work. I’m Michelle from NorQuest college actually has a great question for this portion, with the pandemic, stay at home requirements. There’s been a lot of technology adoption here in Canada to help bridge some of these gaps. And her question is, are there new ways to maintain virtual presence merging in transnational family caregiving space as well?
Which is a fantastic question. Yeah. Thanks Michelle. That is, that is really interesting. And like all of us, we have relied on all of these virtual product platforms to try to maintain some sense of connection and some sense of, you know, try to relieve that sense of social isolation that we might be feeling from our other family members or that we might be even feeling ourselves and just to speak on kind of what my family has been doing, you know, FaceTime and, you know, Facebook messenger chats and WhatsApp chats have been kind of at the core of how we were able to stay in contact with, with, with individuals.
But especially from the older adults perspective, there are so a level of buy-in that you have to get them to see the value in participating in the group chats and participating in the zoom calls and the FaceTime chats. And it isn’t always easy, but they see the, the level of kinship and the level of kind of reciprocity and love that they’re able to feel through these mechanisms.
And it almost helps. it almost helps them put into context, but this time it really is. You know, it’s like, we can do this for now. It might be a while still to be able to be together. But in terms of care, I think really maintaining that sense of hope that, you know, one day we’ll still we’ll be able to, you know, enjoy each other’s company again, in, in a presence and virtual co-presence, you know, it has so many of these advantages, but again, when it, we never thought, you know, and.
I, I wrote a paper right before the pandemic about debating whether virtual co-presence was enough to, to maintain family relationships. And, you know, I’m really glad that I took the stance that it isn’t. And now with this pandemic, we’re kind of thrown into a position where you don’t really have a choice.
but it’s really maintaining. It’s wa never ways that you can maintain that sense of we’re still here. And we’ll, we’re still thinking about you. I think it’s super important Shaneka. This next question is from you. It’s from Joe enough from caregivers, Alberta beyond contributing for financial resources to family in other countries.
What do you find is the greatest need or request to family members to those living here in Canada? Do you have any insights from your work that could add to that question? Oh, well, absolutely. Remittances because they can do so much. They, it, it affords. So, the polar to do so much, whether it is food, just day-to-day survival, people haven’t roofs over their heads.
But I also think that we’re families. Remain connected, those emotional ties. And I I’m, I’m very passionate about talking about that while we often talk about care going South, there is care that comes North as well. And I, you know, when, we moved here to Alberta, it was a lot of the care that moved. To the North with us that helps us to be able to stay and to cope from day-to-day.
and to be here. To be here to continue to be here and not just back it up because, families do, whether it’s just emotional to call in. So my cousin who would call me every weekend to say that, you know, what’s the temperature today. And I would tell her, Oh my gosh, it’s minus 25. And she would go, okay.
So it’s not as bad as it could be. It was always not as bad as me. So you have those emotional supports, That are going. And I think those are going both ways and to recognize, I think too, that while those tangible remittance, those goods that are sent back are good to the main tenants of those emotional and connections, those connections across time, with those families help too.
I th I think help the families to age together, but also to help them to navigate, to learn ways of navigating the difference, the diff the different challenges that will come up. So is it one, I don’t know that there is anything, Specific that we could say that is our greatest need right now, right across.
I think it differs from person to person, but being able to then maintain those connections because it’s, that’s what helps the flows backwards. That’s a great response. Joan, if I can add my own personal, lens on that, what the greatest demand has been or need has been as actually been connection time.
And it’s ironic with COVID, family members asking for more just how are you doing? can we FaceTime? Can we WhatsApp? Can we talk? And it’s almost created this sense of realization of how important the family connections are and how important it is to maintain them. So, in a way, in a twisted way, COVID has made.
All of us more aware of the importance of family and the greatest demand has been like, when can we talk again? Whereas if I’m pre pandemic, you know, if you talk to once a week, that was okay. Now, it feels like there’s a need to talk two or three times a week. I think part of that is addressing anxieties around people’s wellbeing, the feeling of distance.
I think one of the prevailing feelings that a family has had is this feeling of when will this end? I think all of us experienced this, even from a professional context, we talk about. During the zoom sessions, the feeling of uncertainty as to when things go back to normal, I think is adding weight on the positive side to finding more and better ways to maintain quality, connections and relationships.
So beyond money, I think it’s one of those beautiful outcomes. I probably have spent more time connecting with family than I ever have in my whole time here in Canada. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks so much. We really meet Shannon. I can work thinking about our presentation today and not wanting to end on such a sour note or on with such a weak picture of what this potential wealth of research could look like.
You know, we want it to end on, you know, what exactly YouTube will bring it up. You know, how a family has been resilient. How have we been getting through this? And you know, when the conversation I had with my mom, just even yesterday, No. She told me that for the first time in her life, again, she shifted back to the thinking from a day to day, kind of a perspective.
So really just being appreciative of the data that you have today. No taking care of what you have to do now. And especially for our family members back, back in the Philippines who, you know, who are struggling financially or who are struggling with any kind of health scares, you know, just being grateful and thankful for those days and really doing what we can within the 24 hours that we have in front of us to be able to, whether it be connect virtually, whether it be to try to get, you know, a mitten or, or a package sent or having just the ability to.
Just maintain that sense of connection because they’re stolen much information out there. And there’s so much news that gets portrayed in both are both here in Canada and all over the world. Even just hearing from, you know, another family member from a different country that, Hey we’re okay. Today. Like everything.
No went to work. The kids are in school, you know, they came home today, everything, everything was on the level. You know, you guys were able to go to the market, you know, during the assigned times, you know, that they had great. It’s just even maintaining those relationships of what they did today to ensure their own wellbeing puts our families kind of at a more, more, a peace.
And then just having to deal with whatever comes next and that, that added sense of resiliency. And that added sense of just ensuring that, although we’re all separated because of the pandemic, we’re also very much together in this transnational kind of a family and that kinship that exists. And, and if we can make it through a pandemic and like my mom said, if she can make it through, when she first immigrated here too.
What growing up in poverty was like, and now then, and then it will be easy, but that’s just my mom. She’s just really optimistic. So thank you both. We have a couple of minutes for questions. One of the questions received beforehand was for the organizations, the professionals in this sector was supporting immigrants.
what can they, what’s the one thing that they can focus on, to help the, the clients, the communities. I, I do believe made up the conversation about what are their connections back home, because it’s not a space that people. Not truly ask you in terms of, you know, what are your connections? What are, what are your obligations?
What her, what are the things that you still hold? Are you still maintaining those relationships as a start to, to find out what what’s happening in people’s lives? Because it’s. People generally don’t ask about whole year, settle in and mint, stay in back. They they’ll, they’ll ask the nice questions about, are you going back for a vacation and a vacation is not always a vacation in the sense for migrants.
It may be to go back and help someone build their hosts are so it’s it’s work. It may be, it may very well be worked. So to start shifting those conversations. Creating the space for, to help in migrants recognize that, to, to recognize the. What migrants are doing, not just here, but in their home countries with their families and acknowledge them and recognize them as important in the lives of migrants and their families.
So I think from an agency perspective, people working with migrants, that is something that really needs to start, happening so that we can eventually have Alberta caregivers. The migrant arm that will look very different at those issues. There, there are lots of similar issues. Absolutely. But it is how do we get these people whose journey into care looks.
Look different and, may, may, may come about because of different reasons. So Andrew, just follow up on that question. What is the role of peer communities within immigrant communities here or peer relationships, as a potential resource. Yeah on Kenya. I think this is such a, such a big marker of what this pandemic has really done.
You know, although it was isolated us, it has made us really reinvest in our communities and in our networks of people who are going through the same things that are the individual and at the family level, they can very much relate to. And that’s essentially, what’s been going on within a lot of our families and immigrant community, that I’m very close to with in Winnipeg and the organizations that have been reaching out to them.
They’ve been very. very much on the ground level, kind of get some type of, you know, empathetic level of understanding of what the challenges and what has been really the big, the big hurdles that they’re trying to face with the pandemic. But on top of that layering on top of what they already were coming to some of these services and some of these agencies, some of these programs for back in January and February.
So a lot of those things still haven’t, you know, still haven’t been resolved or they’re still very much actively going forward to seek support. But then on top of their transnational family responsibilities that have been even the bad that had been made even more complicated. So just to, you know, mimic what Shaneika brought up, it’s just getting that level of understanding and opening up the dialogue to really getting a sense of what these transnational ties look like and what, what the family members here really envisioned or what they want to do.
Like what are their goals? Not just for their families here. In for themselves here, but for their families back home, like what, what do we really want to see them kind of do and grow and accomplish? Well, thank you both for your time. this has been too short of a session. I think there’s a lot more for one questions and discussions that would come from this.
If people wanted to follow up with you, stay in touch with the research, how can they do that? I think our emails they’re there. The anyone wind down eyes are wanting to get in touch with Nick or myself or emails are down there. And then, you know, we’re, we’re open to any questions or have the wonder another one is cats.
I dunno if anyone wants to add another virtual chat on their calendar, but we’re always open to talking about this stuff for the participants who joined us today. Thank you so much. this is the first of our webinars series, in the Pauls and handout section. We’ve included, the handout for this particular slide deck.
That includes both Andrew and Shaneika his contact information. So you can stay in touch with what’s happening. And then if you want to sign up for other sessions that we put on and will cover different topics impacting marginalized populations, especially from. The perspective of employment. So this could be newcomers and immigrants, people working with disabilities, older workers, caregivers, sign up for those.
And we’ll keep you posted when this happen. I think again, Andrea, Shenika really appreciate you giving your time and being here for this. Thank you for having us. All right. Take care, everyone. Okay. Bye.
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