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Araw araw, tinataya namin ang buhay namin (Everyday, we gamble with our lives): Filipina Migrants in Canada and care work

By: Ethel Tungohan, Jessica Ticar, Mithi Esguerra, Conely De Leon, Marissa Largo, Mauriene Tolentino, Mycah Panjaitan, Bea Seardon, Myka Jaymalin, Angela Natial

June 8, 2021

Filipina Care Workers and COVID-19 is a photovoice project in partnership with York University, Gabriela-Ontario, and Migrants Resource Centre Canada. Using Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology and photovoice methods, our project examines the experiences of Filipina care workers (including live-in caregivers, Personal Support Workers, Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses) in Canada during COVID-19 in the areas of their work, home, and personal lives. Our aim in using PAR methodology is to utilize and direct the knowledge collected in this project towards initiatives around community mobilization, policy change, and social action. Additionally, by using participatory photovoice methods through the format of ‘kuwentuhan’ or ‘talk-story,’ participants are able to engage meaningfully with the project and self-express and share their stories in a creative way. At the time of writing in late April 2021, we have interviewed 75 migrant care workers across Canada.

In examining the narratives shared by the care workers, we have applied an intersectional framework to emphasize the intersecting social locations that different Filipina care workers inhabit. Our data  reveals that some social locations are more salient than others when explaining specific experiences of vulnerability beyond the “trinity” of “gender, class, and race.” For example, there are overlapping themes around labour precariousness and policy inequities embedded in the narratives shared by the care workers. However, the levels of insecurity, precarity, and health risks experienced are heavily informed by other social locations such as immigration status and factors such as employment roles (registered nurse vs. live-in caregiver) and workplace situations (unionized vs. non-unionized). In doing so, we are contesting the popular discourse around ‘abject Filipina care workers’ deployed in migrant-receiving states such as Canada.

One community engagement outcome we seek to produce is a virtual exhibit of the photos care workers have shared. In the spirit of encouraging collaboration and ensuring the website reflects the needs and concerns of the care workers, we have invited interested care workers to be part of the curatorial team. We will use the virtual exhibit as a platform to advocate for necessary policy changes and to create a virtual archive of care workers’ lived histories during COVID-19.


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