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Hannah Medina, master of social work student, explores the Filipino/a/x resettlement experience in Canada

Her work is inspired by the experiences of her family
By: Bonte Minnema
October 12, 2021

Hannah Medina, explores the Filipino/a/x resettlement experience to Canada. (Photo Credit: Andrea Mendoza)

Recently I was able to speak to Hannah Medina about her master’s research paper (MRP) and experience as a graduate student at the School of Social Work at the Faculty of Community Services (FCS).  Once completed, this MRP and others can be found in the MRP database online. In her own words:

What is your research project about? What attracted you to this subject matter?

My MRP is about first-generation Filipina/o/x youth and their resettlement experience to Canada with their families. What attracted me to this subject matter is that my parents and two older siblings resettled in Canada, and I would only get pieces of this experience. So, I wanted to provide the space for youth to share their experiences and was curious why these narratives are not often asked about. Further, I would like to thank Professor Purnima George for encouraging me to pursue this research topic. She acknowledged the lack of exploration on the resettlement experience for Filipina/o/x community in the literature and other MRPs.

Why did you choose to do this work at the School of Social Work?

I noticed a lack of literature about the resettlement experiences of Filipina/o/x youth to Canada with their families. Also, I wanted to explore the complex identities and experiences of Filipina/o/x youth and their experience of moving from colonial land onto another colonial project here in Canada and unpacking their responsibilities as settlers. Something great about my work is that it provides the space for youth to unpack and reflect on their experiences and creates space to think about how to support Filipina/o/x youth and their families better. Moreover, it contributes to the little Canadian literature out there about the Filipina/o/x community.

How has COVID-19 affected your research project?

My work shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic as I had to adapt to having work, placement and school all from home. Usually, I would go to a local cafe or library to study, complete schoolwork, or write for a change of scenery and pace, but that was not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions and limitations. Also, recruitment was difficult during the pandemic and limited my outreach. On the other hand, the pandemic provided space for me to get more opportunities with placement, part-time work and flexibility to take care of myself and my family.

What do you see for your future and the impact of your research?

I hope to get my MRP published (but accessible) to contribute to the current lack of literature on the Filipina/o/x community in Canada. I also hope to provide representation for this community as they are not often represented in the literature, support services, or decision-making spaces that affect the community as well. Further, I hope to see Filipina/o/x youth feel supported in their resettlement journey and have spaces to unpack their identities. My hope for the future of my research is for the Filipina/o/x community to know their responsibilities to the land as settlers and how to tangibly support Indigenous resurgence and sovereignty.

What have been some highlights of your MRP experience?

One of the highlights of my MRP experience is getting to provide that space for Filipina/o/x youth to unpack their experiences, as for all of them it was the first time they had a space to reflect and share outside of their family. Another highlight is getting to know the amazing group of people in my cohort despite not meeting them in person (shout out to the 2020-2021 MSW cohort). Last, a key highlight is having Professor Gordon Pon as my supervisor for my MRP. He supported me throughout the entire process of my MRP, and I am truly grateful for his critical lens, encouragement and flexibility.

What have been some unexpected obstacles on your journey? How have you overcome them?

Recruitment was a major unexpected obstacle in my journey as the pandemic limited outreach. For example, some of the organizations I contacted were not operating, or I didn't establish a relationship with them so getting people to participate was very difficult. I learned from this how important it is to build relationships within these community organizations and think about the barriers to participating in my research.

What would you say to someone considering graduate work at the School of Social Work or one of the other schools at FCS?

For someone considering graduate work, I would say that this is definitely a difficult and challenging journey; so, it’s essential to dig deep into your intentions and motivations on the current and future impacts of your work. However, what helped me get through all the challenges that I faced is that this kind of work is beyond me and intended to give back to my community. Also, I would say that even when you run into difficult parts, the folks in the school were very flexible, accommodating, and supportive in making sure that we all were successful in completing the program. So, some peace of mind is that you have folks to back you up as well throughout this process.

Graduate work can be all-consuming. What are some things you do to maintain a work-life balance?

I like to play tennis, go on bike rides, rollerblade, and sometimes play football to maintain a work-life balance. I also enjoy going on adventures with my friends and family and enjoy a good cup of coffee, tea or bubble tea.

Graduate Research Series

This past summer graduate students at the Faculty of Community Services (FCS) were invited to tell us about their research projects and graduate studies experience. This is part of a series of introductory profiles about graduate students, their research and their advice for prospective graduate students. It is our hope you are as inspired by their research efforts and success as we are. If you would like to submit a story idea for consideration please contact Bonte Minnema at