Immigrants in the Canadian Armed Forces: Second Acts and New Canadians


  • Grazia Scoppio Royal Military College of Canada
  • Aimee Vieira Norwich University (Retired)
  • David Baidoo-Anu Queen's University
  • Jia Guo Queen's University


Immigrant soldiers, aviators and sailors in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) comprise a small and difficult to formally identify minority of service members. This paper primarily draws on 19 interviews with immigrant military service members serving or having recently served in the CAF. The data was extracted from a larger ongoing research project focusing on immigrants serving in the militaries of the Five Eyes countries, namely, Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.  While their stories highlight the importance of family in the immigration journey, the challenges of the immigration process, and the value of connections in the new country's military, they also reveal a hidden aspect of Canadian military accessions that serve to reinforce entrenched national interests and alliances in a way that advantages some individuals and groups. The practices revealed in these interviews may also partially expose how a strong military culture intersects with individualized opportunity structures to hinder intended institutional cultural change.

Author Biographies

Grazia Scoppio, Royal Military College of Canada

Dr. Grazia Scoppio is a Professor in the Department of Defence Studies, Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is cross-appointed in the Queen’s University Department of Political Studies, is a Fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s, and a member of the Canadian Defence and Security Network and the Transforming Military Cultures Network. From January to June 2023 she was Acting Deputy Director Research in the Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and Security, Canadian Defence Academy (CDA). In 2021, she was a Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Peace and War Studies at Norwich University, Vermont, USA. From 2017 to 2020, she was Dean of Continuing Studies at RMC after having served as Associate Dean from 2013 to 2016. Between 2002 and 2013, she held appointments at CDA and the Canadian Forces Leadership Institute. Her multidisciplinary research includes diversity and gender in military organizations; military education; organizational culture; immigration; comparative and international education. She presented at over 70 national and international conferences and authored or co-authored several publications, including: books, scientific reports, chapters in edited books and articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Armed Forces & Society. She has received grants and awards from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Department of National Defence, and Fulbright.

Aimee Vieira, Norwich University (Retired)

Dr. Aimee Vieira is a Professor of Sociology, recenty retired from Norwich University in Vermont, USA. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Université de Montréal, in Quebec, Canada. Dr. Vieira has extensive experience conducting qualitative interviews with minority populations, rural residents, immigrants, adult “Third Culture Kids”, entrepreneurs, and military service members. She served as Director of the School of Justice Studies and Sociology at Norwich from 2018 through 2020, and as Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Language at the Norwich University Applied Research Institute from 2013-2016. She has collaborated with the Places Institute at SUNY-Oneonta and has served on the Diversity Committee of the Rural Sociological Society and is a past chair of the Racial and Ethnic Minorities Research Interest Group of the same organization. Her publications include research on the use of interpreters in conflict zones, language dimensions of cross-cultural engagements, and minority community rural economies. She also co-authored a US government funded cross-cultural training course for US Army soldiers at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School.           

David Baidoo-Anu , Queen's University

David Baidoo-Anu recently obtained his Ph.D. from the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He earned his Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in educational measurement and evaluation from the University of Cape Coast-Ghana. Previously a part-time lecturer at Presbyterian University College- Ghana, his interest in research, particularly classroom assessment coupled with his personal experiences directed him to the Queen’s Assessment and Evaluation Group (AEG). David’s current research focuses on promoting equitable assessment and learning experiences for underrepresented groups of students through culturally responsive classroom assessment. Particularly, he draws on culturally situated understandings of assessment and empirical evidence showing the positive impacts of quality classroom assessment practices on raising students’ achievement to advocate for systemic assessment reforms.  His works have been published in reputable educational journals and have also been presented severally at professional conferences such as the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, American Educational Research Association, National Council on Measurement in Education, Comparative and International Education Society and UK Education and Development Forum.            


Jia Guo, Queen's University

Jia Guo is a Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She earned her Master of Art in Applied Linguistics from Capital Normal University in China. With ten years of experience in secondary education, she is an experienced language instructor and class counselor. Her research focuses on test uses and consequences of young learners’ English tests on test-takers and parents from the sociocultural perspective. She aims at exploring the in-depth social and cultural roots behind young test-takers’ testing perception and practice. She has presented on these topics at multiple international conferences such as the Canadian Society for the Study of Education, Language Testing Research Colloquium, and Language Assessment Research Conference. She is also the winner of the Ontario Graduate Study Scholarship in the 2022-2023 academic year. Additionally, her research assistant work at Queen’s University and the Royal Military College has been providing her with insights into qualitative research.