Mobility, Identity and the New Economy: A Multi-site Ethnography

Regions: Dehcho Region, North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, economics, ethnography, employment

Principal Investigator: Heller, Monica (1)
Licence Number: 14424
Organization: OISE/ University of Toronto
Licensed Year(s): 2015 2009 2008
Issued: Sep 23, 2008
Project Team: Michelle Daveluy (Co-investigator, University of Alberta), Lindsay Bell (Research Assistant, University of Toronto)

Objective(s): This research project aims to understand various economic changes through the eyes of two francophone Canada groups: 1) those involved in economic planning and development; and 2) those who are directly involved in training, job-seeking or who are in the workforce.

Project Description: This license has been issued for the scientific research application #617.

Rapid economic change is influencing how we think of who we are and our ways of belonging to communities and regions. This research project aims to understand these changes through the eyes of two francophone Canada groups: 1) those involved in economic planning and development; and 2) those who are directly involved in training, job-seeking or who are in the workforce. This research will focus on Francophones between the ages of 18 and 35 living in Yellowknife and Hay River attempting to establish or maintain themselves in the workforce.

The researchers will map out the distribution of French-speakers within the research areas, and will recruit 12-15 participants who have been affected by the economic changes. These participants will participate in three types of research. In the first type the subjects will be interviewed regarding their education, training, work histories, participation in family, community or other social networks and institutions. The second stage will involve the subjects being followed for short periods (about 2 days per person) in permissible areas to observe first-hand the place of language and identity practices within their networks. In particular, the researchers will be looking for how they use different languages or dialects, what kinds of groups they rely on, and how they use language and cultural knowledge to be part of those groups. Lastly, the researchers will keep monthly contact with each subject (by whatever means is most comfortable for them) for a year, in order to follow-up their personal paths. In the end, it is hoped that the researchers will link the things individuals say and their movements to the changing economic landscape and to shifting ideas about language and identity among key agencies.
This research will also include an additional 15 participants who are not francophone but who are the target of category specific labour recruitment and training initiatives (Aboriginal, Francophone, woman, Northerner). Participants will ideally be in the early stages of a training program, or recently recruited (within the past month). The researchers will ask local people about their experiences with mobility and work to understand how in-migration and new types of jobs affect how Northern and Aboriginal workers think about community, diversity, language and culture.

This research will interview people from public and private agencies, corporations, associations and institutions which play a role in the changing economic landscape, and in particular in labour recruitment and retention (including immigration), in management of linguistic and cultural diversity, and in community development. The researchers will be asking them what their agency does, what its history is, what challenges it is facing and what role they understand language and culture to play in the economic development of the region. This will also include observing the planning and execution of labour recruitment and training across the three key agencies involved Mining Training Society, Commission de développement économique et d’employabilité, the Aurora College Trades and Technology program. Organized in periods of two to four week observations, the researchers will follow their planning activities, observe their courses and analyze the relevant texts they produce (e.g., websites, annual reports, training programs).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from October 01 to December 31, 2008 in Yellowknife and Hay River.