Out of necessity and into the fields: migrant farmworkers in St. Rémi, Quebec
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The province of Ontario is the primary focus of a growing body of research discussing migrant agricultural labour in Canada. This thesis shifts the focus of inquiry to Quebec, a province that has not received the attention it warrants, given that it is “home” to the second largest temporary migrant population in Canada. Currently, Mexicans constitute the bulk of labourers contracted through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). With the establishment in 2003 of the Foreign Worker Program (FWP), however, the number of Guatemalans on the Quebec scene has increased significantly. The situation of workers from both countries is addressed in the form of a case study of St. Rémi. The thesis argues that the migrant experience in St. Rémi is characterized by a struggle to cope with: (1) an “unfree” labour status; (2) social and geographical isolation; and (3) lack of social assistance and community acknowledgement. An attempt is made to give migrant workers a voice, since their contribution for the most part is either unknown or unappreciated. The support system now in place in St. Rémi affords migrants some minimal rights, but much remains to be done, in Quebec and across Canada, to make the plight of workers better known and their situation improved.