Welcome Kiana!

Hey folks! My name is Kiana, I am a full-time social work student at Laurentian University and I
also work full time in retail. Within these positions, I have gained the opportunity to work and
study alongside the growing population of international students that have immigrated to
Sudbury. As an outsider, I have witnessed the immense obstacles faced by international
students as they navigate survival within a new country and culture. Aside from language and
cultural barriers, academic challenges, and mental health difficulties, a massive barrier for
international students are the financial constraints placed upon them. Both provincially and
federally, migrant students and workers have limited access to social services, and are often
denied full access to health care, employment insurance, and financial aid benefits. International
student workers are also restricted to working 20 hours per week. Though this restriction has
been temporarily lifted from November 15th 2022 until December 31st 2023, the expectation for
these students to be able to financially support themselves within an inflating economy in
addition to paying enormous student fees is unrealistic given the unlivable wages that are
currently in place.
As a social work student who strives to promote anti-oppressive strategies within social and
political practices, I knew that there needed to be systemic changes to ensure equality and
equity for international students in Canada, but didn’t know the best way to navigate these
issues in support of my colleagues. This summer I have earned a great opportunity to complete
my school practicum at the Sudbury Workers’ Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC). Prior
to my placement allocation, I did not know much about the centre– I honestly didn’t know much
about workers rights or much of the initiatives set in place to promote inclusivity within the
workforce. After looking through the website and speaking to Scott Florence, the executive
director, I learned a lot about the different campaigns and programs at SWEAC– specifically the
Status For All initiative and the Living Wage campaign. Both campaigns strive to generate a
system in which workers are able to earn wages in conjunction with sustaining their livelihoods,
and have equal working rights and access to benefits. In addition to these advocacy campaigns,
SWEAC offers many services that can support international student workers, such as 1-on-1
client-intake sessions, workshops, and information packets. Many international students may be
in working environments that are exploitative or are struggling with the parameters in which the
government has bounded them within; The staff at SWEAC are driven to ensure that they have
every bit of information needed to ensure that their working rights are protected, and advocate
for policy changes to ensure equal working conditions for all.