Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography & Environmental Studies

Program Name/Specialization

Human Geography


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Margaret Walton-Roberts

Advisor Role



This study involves a micro-analysis of the experience of Nigerian-trained health professionals in Canada and is designed to understand the experiences of these skilled migrants, the impact of their migration, and how further migration might be stimulated or reduced through engagement in transnational activities with workers still in Nigeria. The research questions asked, (a) Which discourses of skill exchange are most meaningful to Nigerian health care workers in Canada? (b) How is this process of value exchange and extraction structured by transnational connectivity? (c) How does this research contribute to current concepts regarding skilled migration?

Framed by the Integrative Model Approach of Koser & Salt (1997), this narrative inquiry used semi-structured interviews, modified surveys with open-ended questions, document analysis, and key informant interviews to collect data from a total of 132 participants. Findings were organized around three concepts – skilled migration discourse, transnationalism, and remittances – used to frame how migrants understand their experience and the consequences of their migration in both the sending and receiving countries.

“Brain train” – migration for educational purposes – was the skilled migration discourse most often chosen by respondents regardless of gender, occupation, marital status, or prior education. However, older participants (aged 50 and up) tended to identify with “brain circulation” and “brain networking.” Participants reported various levels of engagement in transnational activities such as sending/receiving remittances, gaining new skills, and making charitable donation. Active transnational engagement was shown to increase the likelihood of migration inquiries from non-migrant counterparts. Overall, migrants reported positive outcomes from their migration to Canada, although adjustment periods resulting in loneliness and separation were described. As a consequence of their migration, respondents often pursued higher levels of education in Canada, which improved their career options, increased professional training, and enhanced their independence.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season