top of page

About Border(ing) Practices

Border(ing) Practices: Systemic Racism, Immigration & Child Welfare is a collaborative research project led by researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Victoria working in partnership with child welfare, immigration, and gender-based violence service providers and advocates within Ontario and British Columbia. 


This research aims to understand how immigration policies, in concert with systemic racism, shape child welfare policies and practices with children, youth and families. 


Using an intersectionality-based research design, our research objectives aim to: 

  1. Critically analyze how social work research with immigrants in Canada attends to racism and precarious migratory status. 

  2.  Examine how child welfare policies and regulations guide child abuse assessment and services with immigrant families in ON and BC through: a) discourse analysis of policy documents and b) in-depth interviews with policymakers and service providers working with immigrants.

  3. Foster knowledge exchange among service providers and immigrants who are directly impacted by child welfare services towards improving equitable outcomes for racialized immigrants.



Immigrants represent a sizable proportion of Canada’s population, with 1 in 5 people (21%) identifying as foreign-born in the 2018 Census, the majority of whom are also racialized as “visible minorities” who originate in countries in Asia and Africa.  A growing proportion of immigrants have a precarious legal status as temporary workers, students, refugee claimants or undocumented residents. Immigrants with precarious status face numerous barriers to accessing services, experience economic hardship, have higher rates of transnational family separation, and often fear being deported from Canada if they seek help from health or social services.  


While child welfare services are paying closer attention to racial disparities among Indigenous and Black children that interact with their services, the role that immigration status plays in child welfare practices remains poorly understood. 

This project builds on work done by Dr. Rupaleem Bhuyan and Dr. Mandeep Mucina, including the Migrant Mothers Project



Refers to political and social processes that construct collective identities to differentiate “us” and “them” in everyday life. Bordering practices affirm the legitimacy of the nation to decide who belongs within (and can be excluded from) its territory in relation to race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, language, and national origin.  


Refers to forms of legal status within a state that are characterized by any of the following: lack of permanent residence or permanent work authorization, limited or no social benefits, inability to sponsor relatives, and the potential to be deported.


Refers to the ingrained bias and racist lens in the policies and practices of systems and institutions such as child welfare, housing, and education. As a result, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour experience exclusion and harmful treatment based on race.

BP Logo Colour Dark.png
bottom of page