Raising a Family That’s Not Yours
Image 4.1 A picture of a winter celebration at Marites’s weekend home, including Marites, a friend, and the second family that employed her.
Life as a Nanny in Toronto
Working as a live-in caregiver in Toronto, Marites was part of a highly visible community of female Filipino domestic workers. Because of this, Marites was able to find a network of support with women who found themselves in a similar situation. Like Marites, many of these women were highly educated and had given up lives working as skilled workers in the Philippines to work as live-in caregivers in Toronto. A 2009 study found that 63% of women in the LCP applying for permanent residency had university degrees (Pratt, 2012).
The recruitment of overseas workers from the Philippines for care giving roles tends to be gendered. Women often find themselves working in caregiver positions in North America or Asia (Hong Kong has a particularly high number of female Filipino domestic workers), while men often work in other industries located heavily in the Middle East. From 1980-2005, women comprised 59% of Filipino immigrants to Canada (Kelly, et. al., 2009, 7).
Image 4.2 Marites and her third charge, the young son of her third employer.
Leaving Families Behind
Due to this pattern, female migrant workers living in cities like Vancouver or Toronto often find themselves separated from their families, husbands, and in some cases even their own children. This separation between mothers and children can be traumatic especially as many Filipino women find themselves caring for other women’s children while living apart from their own families. Marites was separated from her husband, Albert, but was reunited with him after being able to sponsor his move to Toronto.
Filipino migration to Canada is highly gendered. What are the implications of this both for the migrants and those who stay behind?