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Izumi Sakamoto, PhD

Izumi Sakamoto, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work

University of Toronto
246 Bloor Street West

Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1V4, Canada

Phone: (416) 946-8224


To view Izumi's profile within the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, please click here.

A link to the "Beyond Canadian Experience", of which Izumi is Principal Investigator, project is provided here.

A link to the "Collaborative on Arts-Based Research and Homelessness", of which Izumi is a Research Leader, is provided here.

A link to the "Coming Together" project which focuses on homeless women, housing, and social support, led by Izumi, is provided here.


Izumi Sakamoto is Associate Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto.  A former Fulbright Scholar, she received MSW, MS (Social Psychology) and Ph.D. (Social Work & Psychology) from University of Michigan and BA and MA from Sophia University, Japan.

Dr. Sakamoto’s research and teaching focus on anti-oppression, empowerment, globalization, community organizing, qualitative research, and decolonization of dominant knowledge through community-based and arts-informed research.  With six government grants (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) as the Principal Investigator, Dr. Sakamoto’s research has focused on equity, anti-oppression and social inclusion of immigrants as well as women/transwomen who have experienced homelessness. Focusing on the tacit dimension of knowledge, she has used photography and theatrical techniques to collaboratively create knowledge with research participants with the help of artists, which then led to various knowledge mobilization activities including readers theatre performances, art exhibits, and videos.

Dr. Sakamoto has focused on the issues of (im)migrants and sojourners for the past 15 years and specifically on the issues faced by skilled immigrants to Canada for the 10 years, including employment, structural, and psychosocial issues.  Her current research projects problematize the notion of “Canadian experience” (CE) as it is often used as an exclusionary hiring criterion for skilled immigrants in Canada, who are often from the Global South countries. CE includes often tacitly acquired and perceived competency in navigating through Canadian workplace culture.  For example, she and her colleagues have conducted media analysis of English, Chinese and “South Asian” media in the Greater Toronto Area on the notion of skilled immigrants and “Canadian experience”.  Another research projects she leads on this topic (Beyond Canadian Experience Project) is a collaboration with community partners, which has been reaching out to employers in order to mobilize the research findings and explore together the alternative ways of meeting the needs of employers in hiring diverse talents including immigrants without relying on an elusive concept of Canadian experience (  In her dissertation work, Dr. Sakamoto developed a “Model of Cultural Negotiation”, for individuals and families negotiating multiple cultural contexts, and continued to critically examine the issues of acculturation and integration for immigrants.

In the area of homelessness, Dr. Sakamoto has led a collaborative knowledge-synthesis project of eight arts-informed, community-based, participatory research projects focusing on homelessness, which includes the mounting of a joint exhibition and other creative ways of research dissemination toward social change (Homelessness: Solutions from Lived Experiences through Arts-Informed Research). This work builds on and extends her earlier arts-based research project with community partners, Coming Together: Homeless Women, Housing and Social Support, which focused on the family-like social networks of women and transwomen who are homeless, paying special attention to the experiences of Aboriginal women and women of colour. In addition, she has successfully conducted several community-based research projects with diverse communities in the US, Canada, and Japan, for example, the culturally and linguistically appropriate civic engagement of ESL Chinese youths in Toronto; and the empowerment of women who are spouses of international students/scholars in Michigan. 

Dr. Sakamoto has over 10 years of practice experience in community and direct practice settings as a generalist social worker, group worker, music therapist, community organizer, social work administrator, and researcher/consultant. Dr. Sakamoto’s teaching interests include empowerment, anti-oppressive social work, qualitative research, community-based research, social work practice with organizations and communities, group work, globalization and transnationality, and critical international social work. She was the first International Student Coordinator at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (2004-2008). 

Dr. Sakamoto was Acting Director of the Ph.D. Program in 2012, and teaches in both MSW and Ph.D. programs.

CQ Teaching

At CQ, Izumi teaches  SWK6307H ("Designing and Implementing Qualitative Social Work Research").

“Izumi and Billie (lab instructor) were amazing. The classes were wonderful, and the readings were very helpful in understanding qualitative research. Izumi and Billie are so warm and caring, and really made the classroom a safe and happy place. But in addition to that, they also taught a great course in terms of content. As a newcomer to qualitative research, I feel like I learned so much! Thank you!” – Student Evaluation, Fall 2010

Social Work Teaching

Dr. Sakamoto teaches courses in the Ph.D. program as well as first and second year of the MSW program, with an emphasis in the second year Social Justice and Diversity specialization. 

SWK6307 Designing and Implementing Qualitative Social Work Research
SWK4210 Promoting Empowerment: Working at the Margins
SWK4651 Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees
SWK4654 Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations                                                                                                                  

Sample Publications

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M., Wood, N., Ricciardi, J. (In Press). The use of staged photography in participatory action research with homeless women: Reflections on methodology and collaboration. In Diane Conrad & Anita Sinner (Eds.). Creating together: Participatory, community-based and collaborative arts practices and scholarship across Canada. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 

Allan, B. & Sakamoto, I. (Forthcoming).  Helpers, not helpless: Honouring the strength, wisdom and vision of Aboriginal women experiencing homelessness or marginal housing. In M. Guergis-Younger, S. Hwang, & R. McNeil. (Eds.). Homelessness and Health in Canada. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. 

Sakamoto, I., Jayapal, D., Bhuyan, R., Ku, J., Fang, L., Zhang, H., & Genovese, F. (2013 March). An overview of discourses of skilled immigrants and “Canadian experience”: An English-language print media analysis. CERIS Working Paper #98. Toronto: CERIS – The Ontario Metropolis Centre.

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M. & Young, M. (2010). ‘Canadian Experience,’ employment challenges, and skilled immigrants: A close look through ‘tacit knowledge.’ Canadian Social Work Journal, 10(1), 145-151. 

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M. & Baskin, C. (2010). Collaborating for social change: Bringing together arts-informed research projects on homelessness. In C. McLean (ed.). Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, Inquiries for Hope and Change (pp. 21-38). Calgary, AB: Temeron Books.

Sakamoto, I., Ku, J., & Wei, Y. (2009). The Deep plunge: Luocha and the experiences of earlier skilled immigrants from Mainland China in Toronto. Qualitative Social Work, 8(4), 427-447.

Sakamoto, I., Chin, M., Chapra, A., & Ricciardi, J. (2009). A 'normative' homeless woman?: Marginalisation, emotional injury, and social support of transwomen experiencing homelessness. Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, 5(1), 2-19.

Sakamoto, I., Wei, Y. & Truong, L. (2008). How do social service organizations and social policies ‘acculturate’ to immigrants?: Social service provision for Chinese skilled immigrants in CanadaAmerican Journal of Community Psychology, 42(3/4), 343-354.

Sakamoto, I., Anastas, J., Mcphail, B., & Colarossi, L. (2008). Status of women in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 44(1), 37-62.

Sakamoto, I. (2007). An anti-oppressive approach to cultural competence. Canadian Social Work Review, 24(1), 105-114.

Sakamoto, I. (2007). A critical examination of immigrant acculturation: Toward an anti-oppressive social work with immigrant adults in a pluralistic society. British Journal of Social Work, 37(3), 515-535.

Sakamoto, I. (2006). When family enters the picture: The model of cultural negotiation and gendered experiences of Japanese academic sojourners in the United States. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology Journal, 12(3), 558-577.

Pitner, R. & Sakamoto, I. (2005). Examining the role of critical consciousness in multicultural practice: Examining how its strength becomes its limitation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(4), 684-694.

Zhou, Y. R., Knoke, D., & Sakamoto, I. (2005). Rethinking silence in the classroom: Chinese students’ experiences of sharing indigenous knowledge. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 9(3), 287-311. 

Sakamoto, I. & Pitner, R. (2005). Use of critical consciousness in anti-oppressive social work practice: Disentangling power dynamics at personal and structural levels. British Journal of Social Work, 35(4), 420-437.