Tacit Knowledge, Immigrants, and the Issue of “Canadian Experience”: Why Are Immigrant Professionals Not Getting Jobs?

On October 14 2011, the Canadian Experience project team, led by Professor Izumi Sakamoto, performed findings from Professor Sakamoto’s arts-informed research project titled, Re-examining the Canadian Experience and Acculturation: The Missing Context of Canada's High Skilled Immigrants (PDF).

In her work, Professor Sakamoto uses the arts to demonstrate how implicit or tacit knowledge (the kind of things that can’t be articulated) and soft skills become the reason why skilled immigrants are not finding work. How does one get these soft skills? What is the unspoken knowledge or tacit knowledge that make up “Canadian experience”? That constitutes Canadian workplace culture?


A standing room only audience watched as actors, many of whom were former research participants themselves, re-enacted the challenges skilled immigrants face finding and keeping work in Canada. The play incorporated themes, transcript excerpts and images from a series of arts-based focused groups conducted as part of the study. The script remained as true to the words of the research participants as possible, and remained true to the theatrics of what they have experienced.

The play was accompanied by presentations from two discussants on the concept of "Canadian experience". Axelle Janzcur, Executive Director at Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, provided her insights on ‘Canadian experience’ as a barrier to accessing decent work. Professor Marion Bogo explained the concept of tacit knowledge (knowledge that is neither expressed nor declared openly but rather implied or simply understood) and how this implicit knowledge is used and valued in the workplace. Finally, the play was followed by a lively question and answer period, during which audience members shared their experiences finding work as immigrants, their concerns about the exclusion of immigrants in the labour market, and their recommendations for change.

Learn more about Reader’s Theatre and the Canadian Experience Project from Professor Izumi Sakamoto

Cast & Crew

Host & Mask Holder - Naomi Tessler
Resume 1, Resume 200 - Jason Lee
Resume 2, Resume 345 - Samad Purmusavi
Resume 3, Resume 801 - Sehr Athar
Lead Researcher - Izumi Sakamoto
HR Professional & Door - Roxanna Vahed
Employment Counsellor & Door - Ruth Wilson
Post, Door & Co-Author - Matthew Chin
Projector & Sound - Heidi Zhang
Director & Co-Author - Jessica Bleuer
Videographer - Blanca Lopez
Audio Video Support - Jim Moore
Back Stage Volunteer - Theon Harrichand
Back Sage Volunteer - Flavia Genovese

Seminar Agenda

Photo Gallery