Oshawa’s Trent University Produces Photobook Highlighting Immigrants’ Struggles Finding Jobs


By Karen Longwell

Published on August 19, 2022 at 12:23 p.m.

A new photo book shows the experiences of new immigrants to Durham Region when seeking professional employment.

The book is part of a new research project led by Marina Morgenshtern, associate professor of social work at Trent University in Durham in the Greater Toronto Area. The project studies the experiences of skilled immigrants when looking for work.

“Our project looks at immigrants’ pathways to gaining professional employment, which include experiences of empowerment and exclusion,” says Morgenshtern.

Canada’s immigration model – a merit-based system that aims to prioritize skills gaps in the labor market – is central to the research.

As part of the project, researchers gave a small group of new immigrants living in Durham Region a camera to take pictures to document their job search experiences.

Each participant submitted photos and wrote reflections. The research team then interviewed the newcomers, discussed the challenges they faced and how they dealt with them. They shared what employers and policy makers should know about the processes.

The photographs and reflections have been compiled into a photo book called “Walk in My Shoes” to share with the community.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” says Morgenshtern.

The narrative approach highlights the lived experiences of immigrants. It explores the experiences of immigrants from their perspective, identifying gaps in employment services and informing best practices in service.

Participants say that existing job search assistance – internships, resume writing and job search services – has been marked by a variety of experiences, including rejection, judgment, exploitation and ignorance.

Additionally, skilled immigrants face multiple challenges in finding meaningful learning opportunities, building strong networks, and meeting bureaucratic demands.

Morgenshtern says that the participants showed extraordinary strength, extra effort, perseverance, flexibility, self-confidence, hope and a positive attitude to fight against marginalization, but also notes that “at Instead of calling those who face systemic marginalization “resilient”, we want to invite society to seek solutions.

The project aims to inform Durham’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, newcomer advisories and welcome centres, and educate about immigrant experiences.

Explore the “Take a Walk in My Shoes” digital flipbook.

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