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Fostering the successful settlement of immigrant & refugee youth in Canada Marian J. Rossiter, Sarvenaz Hatami, Daniel Ripley, University of Alberta PRAIRIE.

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Presentation on theme: "Fostering the successful settlement of immigrant & refugee youth in Canada Marian J. Rossiter, Sarvenaz Hatami, Daniel Ripley, University of Alberta PRAIRIE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fostering the successful settlement of immigrant & refugee youth in Canada Marian J. Rossiter, Sarvenaz Hatami, Daniel Ripley, University of Alberta PRAIRIE METROPOLIS AND BEYOND November 4, 2011

2 Acknowledgements  Research participants and community partners  Katherine Rossiter  Prairie Metropolis Centre  Metropolis Project

3 Phase 1 To understand the risk and protective factors perceived by community stakeholders to influence ‘at-risk’ immigrant and refugee youth who eventually come into conflict with the law. Interviews with 12 stakeholders from social service agencies, community groups, and the criminal justice and mental health systems. Educational difficulties and poverty were considered to have the greatest impact on immigrant youth.

4 Phase 2: Research questions What are the supports and challenges that immigrant and refugee youth themselves perceive to have affected their settlement and adaptation in Edmonton? What services or programs have interviewees accessed? To what extent have these been perceived as helpful?

5 Participants Inclusion criteria: Between the ages of 14 and 30 Immigrated to Canada as adolescents In conflict with the law and/or recognized in the community as a youth leader or role model; Proficient in spoken English Semi-structured interviews (60-90 min) Content analysis of transcribed interviews

6 Participants Participants from Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iraq, Liberia, Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone Still recruiting participants from other ethnocultural backgrounds

7 Interviews  ArrivalEmployment FamilySources of support Housing Sources of stress SchoolAdvice FriendsFuture hopes

8 Challenges pre-migration experiences culture (and climate) shock lack of English unfamiliar school system perceived racism, stereotyping financial stress

9 “A new kind of war” “I came from a war-torn country, and coming to Canada for me was like a new kind of war in terms of learning a new language all on your own, in terms of adjusting to the school curriculum all on your own, in terms of being bullied because you couldn’t speak English or you didn’t have enough money to dress a certain way like everybody else is dressed in school, adjusting to the fact that my parents couldn’t find jobs because they couldn’t speak English and we just didn’t have enough to eat and we didn’t have anything to do.”

10 Pre-migration experiences “When I hear noises, like loud boom, I react...I’m pretty sure it’s from the war too, cause my heart starts pounding like boom boom boom…I start running, or I have to take cover, ‘cause it happens back in Africa. ‘Cause in the refugee camp people just start running from some direction and you see someone running and like ‘They’re shooting, they’re coming’”.

11 Lack of English “When I arrived it was really hard for me. I didn’t see anything good actually... I was in big shock - I was in big shock... It was cold and I didn’t like it... I used to be at school, very involved. And I came here and I couldn’t talk. People were doing stuff and I felt like humiliated in a sense.”

12 School placement “Here in Canada it’s based on your age, you’re put [in a grade] according to your age, but from where we come from it’s based on your knowledge. You write a test and they put you on a grade that’s suitable for you. So I was put back, um, three years behind and I had to repeat Junior High all over again. So that was very frustrating.”

13 Perceived racism, discrimination “I was walking in the wrong direction, so this lady, young girl was approaching, she looked like she was 25. She was approaching me and she had her handbag on her shoulder, just walking and approaching, and… I’m like ‘Hi, excuse me’ and she just had her bag LIKE THIS and she started running and then I stopped and like ‘You know I just want to ask you for directions, right?’”

14 Financial stress Refugee Transportation Loan – “My [siblings] were working paying for their [refugee] transportation loan and also ours. So that was a bit challenging because they missed out on their education and even on their communication skill.” “To be in school in Canada is very tough….if you want to go to school, it’s not something that everyone can do - it’s really tough. Actually, I work 45 hours in the week [nights], plus 24 on the weekends.”

15 Main sources of support friends; teachers; faith; organizations such as Catholic Social Services, Edmonton Mennonite Centre, Multicultural Health Brokers, City of Edmonton, John Humphrey Centre

16 Network of friends “The first year, it was just very hard to open up to a lot of different backgrounds of students...I stick to my [ethnocultural] friends....it was just pretty much our own circle... but I realized after two years or a year and a half that I really need to expand, expand my horizon of friends and because I think that by doing that there’s a lot more opportunities that I can make.”

17 ESL programs “I love [name] school because everybody was so welcoming. Especially the department head of ESL, [name]. That lady has helped me from the beginning. That was a good thing, the ESL program.”

18 Faith “It [church] did a lot. For us, especially for my family. It’s a big thing in our family and so to find that it was like we had a community. Somewhere to belong.”

19 Support from organizations “I was very involved in Catholic Social Services. They have programs, or they used to have before, where every Tuesday and Thursday they will teach about the Canadian culture, so how the police work, you know, rules and stuff, and my [parent] and I will always go there...And they have a summer program where they show you around the city, so my sisters and I were part of that...And they also gave us something like a sponsor family. So we had like a family that helped us out around the city.”

20 Recommendations: Orientation For youth and parents: Orientation guides School system School policies Transportation system

21 Recommendations: Orientation Information on Canadian laws (in schools, agencies, ethnocultural communities, as a series of classes or workshops) “When I get out [of jail], I’ll try to fight in order for…new immigrants, that they know that there’s a law, right? Like if you do this, you go to jail for this…Sometimes you don’t know the consequences of your actions.”

22 Recommendations: Schools Development of positive relationships with teachers and helping professionals Intercultural communication skills for all pre-service and in-service teachers and professionals All teachers - strategies for improving language learning, promoting literacy skills, and adapting content to accommodate ESL students in mainstream classes

23 Recommendations: Schools Programs that encourage youth to continue going to school and becoming successful Mentoring classroom buddies, peer mentors in all schools; In-school activities Sports, arts-based, leadership training

24 Financial support Information about educational funding: “The school funding, I was not aware of it until recently; nobody was there to explain to me that there’s other ways they help you while you go to school…. what made me drop out of school was more like I feel like I can’t afford to go to school and pay and still survive, so I feel like I had to work.” Elimination of the refugee transportation loan: “We didn’t even have $14 extra to spend…let alone think about the $14,000 that we owed.”

25 Out-of-school activities “I think after-school activities are really, really important and I think they could be improved in a way that it could be run by youth leaders from diverse cultures who know the experiences of the students and who know what the struggles are, rather than bringing in someone who has no idea about what these students are facing.” also trained volunteers

26 Advice to Canadians Get involved in refugee- and immigrant- related programs Interact with newcomers Give newcomers good advice or refer them to appropriate services Try to understand and accept them; don’t make assumptions Give more voice to immigrants

27 Advice to Canadians “Just remember... a lot of [immigrants, refugees] come here...to escape war, because they’ve faced a lot of hardships back where they come from, so they’re not here because they’re on a vacation. They want a better life and Canada can offer that to them. And I think that we should be open to helping them, rather than have negative attitudes and prejudice towards them.”

28 Giving back… Church, Air Cadets, CSS homework clubs, Boys and Girls Club, EMCN, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Red Cross, Multicultural Health Brokers, John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, musical events, school Student Public Relations, kids with autism, youth programs, soccer, girls’ empowerment group, advocacy campaigns, victims of genocide, Multicultural Youth Group… “Once I help people, I feel good about myself, like helping people to be successful.”

29 Future goals “I want to change lives, make meaningful changes to the world.” “I’d like to help the youth of the community as much as I can… because they are the future.”

30 Thank you


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