A Showcase on Immigrants in the Brant Community

Bharati Sethi standing by her photo voice exhibit. By Brittany Bennett.
Bharati Sethi standing by her photo voice exhibit. By Brittany Bennett.

A PhD candidate of Laurier Brantford showcased a thesis very close to her heart Friday afternoon.

Laurier Brantford PhD candidate, Bharati Sethi, shared her research thesis to the community through a photo voice exhibit titled, “Do You See What I See?” at Laurier Brantford’s Yellow Brick Wall in the 97 Dalhousie Street building. Late Friday afternoon, Sethi shared refreshments, appetizers and a presentation to almost 80 members of the community before the gallery’s viewing that evening. The exhibit was mounted on the Yellow Brick Wall earlier this week, and will be displayed until April 30.

Sethi is scheduled to give an oral defence of her thesis on May 7 to graduate her PhD in the faculty of Social Work, specializing in Community, Planning, Policy and Organization. The exhibit showcased the results of a community-based participatory study on the relation between work and health with immigrant women. Being an immigrant herself, Sethi found the inspiration in her own personal experiences to choose this specific thesis. The findings were taken from 525 participant-generated photographs, diaries and interviews from 17 immigrant women that are living in the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk county.

“I think there’s a power to photography… There’s not a true translation of things, and through their photographs, their images, they’re able to really particulate their lived experiences,” said Sethi.

Sethi focused on participants defined as visual minorities, from Korea, Asia, Africa, Japan, Arab World and Latin America. From this, she came up with the abbreviation KAAJAL, which is also an Indian word for eye liner. Sethi believes that is exactly what visual minorities should be looked at as.

“We want to start people to look at diversity as not something that is negative or something that’s a burden to society, but that KAAJAL women add to the beauty of Canada.”

Sethi explained that very few people have researched the relationship between work and health, especially in this community. Through the exhibit, Sethi effectively promotes awareness about the inequality in the workplace when it comes to visual minorities.

BSW practicum coordinator of the Faculty of Social Work, Marc Laferriere, was thrilled to have attended the opening of Sethi’s photo voice exhibit. Laferriere said her presentation really put her entire message into context. Laferriere has known Sethi since he was 16 years old, working under her supervision at a Cineplex theatre.

“She is an incredible person, she has an incredible mind and she is incredibly passionate.”

Laferriere has seen the use of photo voice before, and said it is a great way to utilize visual skill in opening people’s eyes. Laferriere said the Yellow Brick Wall was the perfect spot for her exhibit, and was very impressed in the way that it was mounted.

Sethi’s supervisor, Susan Cadell, was yet another person to voice her pride in all that Sethi has accomplished. “It’s really great to see it all pulled together, especially in a downtown setting. I really hope members of the community come in to see it during the month as well.”

Sethi’s continuing research and community efforts have granted her many scholarships and awards such as the ‘Citizen’s Award’ she was given just last year. Sethi explained herself to be a large advocator in community-based participatory research. Sethi believes there has been a push towards Laurier Brantford’s collaboration with the community, but it is not at the level that it should be.

“I’ve always been a big advocate of community-based study because I believe in, you know, we have to get past this ivory tower and reach the community.”

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