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Surviving the Canadian Dream:

Stories of Undocumented Families in Edmonton

Stories of 8 undocumented families in Edmonton were audio-recorded. Two graphic artists, Brnesh Berhe and Esther Dimalanta created an art piece for each interview. A third artist, Chio has created pieces based on her own story. A QR code next to each piece of art links you to the interviews. All identifiable information has been changed for each family interviewed. Please listen to our podcast about the project hosted by Leanne Goose.

What does it mean to be undocumented?

Canada’s immigration system invites individuals & families in the Global South to work, study or escape violence. If conditions are met, they can be eligible to apply for permanent residence (PR). These conditions include working full-time for several years, English proficiency requirements, large international student fees or proof of danger upon returning home. Some families are not able to finish their work permits due to abusive employers, work injuries, pregnancy etc. Some international students cannot complete their studies due to the high fees, medical conditions, and family situations. Further, Canadian Immigration qualifications change frequently causing confusion and the inability to complete PR requirements. Due to unfortunate incidents, temporary residencies expire, and people become “non-status” or undocumented. This leaves them in a cycle of poverty & exploitation. Undocumented workers in Edmonton build our infrastructure, clean our buildings, serve and cook us food and take care of our children, elderly and most vulnerable. Their work upholds our economy. 

Being undocumented is a form of resistance

The act of living here undocumented is a form of resistance to a system that has used, abused and disposed of workers, just to bring in a new batch of temporary workers. The Regularization Campaign is pushing all levels of government to recognize undocumented residents as “regular” people. Visit for more information.


Yazmin Castellanos


Danilo Deleon

Whitney Haynes

Cynthia Palmaria

Lyla Luciano

Marco Luciano

Diana Ramirez

Veronika Harmash

Landon Haynes

Leila Kampitan

Heaven Habtu


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