U of T Scarborough students receiving Ontario Heritage award from Lt-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Hiba Ibrahim, Tileira Abraham, Jessie Chung, David Zhang, Cindy Chiu and Wing Ma receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award from the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Ontario Heritage Trust chair Harvey McCue.
Tuesday, March 13 - 2018
Joseph Burrell

A class of U of T Scarborough students have been recognized for their podcasts exploring the unique experiences of indigenous and immigrant communities living in Scarborough.

The “Negotiating Multiple Worlds” podcast received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award in the Youth Achievement group category. The 16 students of the Winter 2017 Migration and Ethnicity (SOCD15) course focused on amplifying the voices of marginalized Scarborough communities through the modern medium of podcasting.

The course sets out to contextualize contemporary Scarborough by tracing its development from a site utilized and cared for by Indigenous peoples to a white middle class suburb and now an emerging “immigrant gateway.” The course recognizes indigenous struggles and dispossession of land which is often unacknowledged in immigration discourse. It also focuses on social barriers encountered by immigrants in Scarborough and how these issues can be addressed.

U of T Scarborough students receiving Lieutenant Governor's award
Students of the Migration and Ethnicity course accepting their award with Professor Paloma Villegas.

Professor Paloma Villegas hopes that her students will leave the course with an adept understanding of “migration related content [pertaining] to Scarborough, qualitative research skills, and alternative modes of presenting information.”

Villegas believes that by designing the course around podcast (and general digital media) production, students will leave with more varied skills than those that have been expected in the field in the past, facilitating their post-graduation goals.

Usually in sociology we write papers and reports… this allows students to learn skills that will hopefully make them better candidates for the job market and/or graduate school,” said Villegas.

Lt-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell presented the awards to the students at Queen’s Park on Feb. 23.

Hiba Ibrahim is one of the students who contributed to “Negotiating Multiple Worlds.” With three other classmates, Ibrahim conducted a series of interviews with South Asian women of different age groups, asking them about their experiences as immigrants in Scarborough. These interviews were then presented in an episode that highlighted “the acculturation experience of South Asian immigrant women in Scarborough.”

“We found that the struggles encountered by immigrant women were more similar than not across each age group, particularly when adopting a new language. One woman arrived when she was four and took ESL classes but still struggled because she didn’t speak it at home,” said Ibrahim.

“There are also very few programs designed to help newcomers learn the language and continue careers. Many of them arrived with degrees that aren’t valid here,” she added. “In that sense, younger arrivals had some advantage being raised in a Canadian school system.”

Other groups produced segments on immigrant food-industry entrepreneurs in Scarborough and schooling opportunities for immigrants aged 13 - 18. Following university research ethics guidelines, given that one participant chose not to have their work uploaded publicly, Ibrahim’s group did not release their podcast.

Banner image courtesy of Patrick Breitenbach