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Not One of the Family

Not One of the Family: Foreign Domestic Workers in Canada

Abigail B. Bakan
Daiva Stasiulis
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 176
  • Book Info
    Not One of the Family
    Book Description:

    A collection of original essays by researchers and workers-turned-activists, it documents how citizen and non-citizen workers are treated unequally in the Canadian system and demonstrates how workers can resist exploitation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7794-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-28)

    On 17 March 1995, Flor Contemplacion, a forty-two-year-old Filipino mother of four who had been working as a nanny in Singapore, was executed. Ms Contemplacion had been convicted for the double murder in 1991 of Delia Maga, another Filipino nanny, and the four-year-old son of Maga’s Singaporean employer. Based on independent interviews with the condemned woman, and evidence from the exhumed body of Ms Maga, many Filipinos believed that Ms Contemplacion was innocent of any wrongdoing. According to an official Philippine government commission report, this was an ‘execution that could have been prevented’ had this evidence been allowed to come...

  6. 1 Foreign Domestic Worker Policy in Canada and the Social Boundaries of Modern Citizenship
    (pp. 29-52)

    Recent discussions in political philosophy have raised the thorny question of the rights associated with belonging to a particular political community, the nation-state, and the criteria used to define full and equal membership within this community (Balibar 1991; Fierlbeck 1991; Hall and Held 1989; Kymlicka 1995; Turner 1990; Young 1990). Several factors have renewed political and theoretical interest in questions of citizenship. These include dramatic shifts in global power and conflict over the reconfiguration of national boundaries associated with the end of the Cold War. Other factors are the emergence of new international patterns of production, and the consequent uneven...

  7. 2 From ‘Mothers of the Nation’ to Migrant Workers
    (pp. 53-80)

    In the last two decades, the legal status of foreign domestic workers in Canada has worsened. In all countries where there are paid domestic workers, gender and class inequalities have largely structured their sociolegal status and working conditions. In Canada, however, historical variations in the status and conditions of domestic workers have more directly been linked to the histories of racism and immigration. Precisely at a time in Canadian history when citizenship rights were generally improving for women, the status and conditions of foreign domestic workers in Canada significantly deteriorated. In line with other analyses (Bakan and Stasiulis, this volume;...

  8. 3 An Affair between Nations: International Relations and the Movement of Household Service Workers
    (pp. 81-118)

    The current Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), in place since 1992, and the 1981 Foreign Domestic Movement (FDM), its predecessor, are both characterized by neocolonial features. Women from the labour forces of selected poor nations are conscripted to work under conditions that are reminiscent of indenture, in work greatly devalued by Canadians. While employed in the program, the citizenship rights of most immigrant domestic workers are limited in ways that curtail their freedom of domicile, occupational mobility, and potential for collective labour association. Most of these oppressive conditions of the occupation emerged during the post-1940s period.

    Historical analysis of the LCP...

  9. 4 Little Victories and Big Defeats: The Rise and Fall of Collective Bargaining Rights for Domestic Workers in Ontario
    (pp. 119-146)

    The working conditions of workers who are paid to perform domestic chores by the families in whose homes they live and work have proved to be remarkably resistant to legal regulation. The nature of this resilience is both ideological and material. While the logic of formal legal equality has accommodated demands by live-in domestic workers for the gradual extension of protective labour legislation to their work, this extension has been partial and ineffective. The ideologies of domesticity and privacy have historically combined to provide a justification for exempting these workers from some of the basic legal entitlements available to other...

  10. 5 ‘The Work at Home Is Not Recognized’: Organizing Domestic Workers in Montreal
    (pp. 147-156)

    Miriam Elvir is a member of L’Association pour la Défense des Droits du Personnel Domestique [The Association for the Defence of the Rights of Domestic Workers]. She has served as a board member and as an employee, responsible for the first two years of the placement service run by the association. This article is based on a series of interviews with Ms Elvir conducted by Daiva Stasiulis between 1994 and 1996. Also present at one 1994 interview, assisting with the translation (from French to English), and contributing to the discussion was Denise Caron, the current coordinator of the Association.


  11. 6 ‘We Can Still Fight Back’: Organizing Domestic Workers in Toronto
    (pp. 157-164)

    Pura M. Velasco came to Canada as a domestic worker in 1989. From 1990 to 1992, she was president of INTERCEDE (the Toronto Organization for Domestic Workers’ Rights). She is also a founding member of the Coalition for the Defense of Migrant Workers’ Rights and Panday Sining, a musical collective of Filipino workers and students. After completing the required two years of live-in domestic service, Pura acquired landed immigrant status and is now employed as a community service worker in Toronto. The narrative below is based on a series of interviews with Pura conducted by Abigail B. Bakan between 1993...

  12. References
    (pp. 165-178)
  13. Index
    (pp. 179-181)