Ongoing Project:

Promoting Resilience among Newcomer Youth

Researchers: Michael Ungar1, Mohammed Baobaid2, Philip Jefferies1, Sara Al-Gashm1
Affiliation: Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University1 and Western University2
Research Partner: Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration (MRCSSI)
Keywords: newcomer youth, resilience, wellbeing, protective factors, social integration, gang involvement, delinquency, settlement, quantitative and qualitative methods


Objective: Building on what is known about pathways to resilience young people navigate when migrating to a new country from a conflict zone, this study explores protective factors that promote resilience among newcomer youth. This will be demonstrated through outcomes such as disengagement in all forms of violence, including gang involvement, delinquency and violent extremism. It will also be demonstrated through a healthy sense of self, interdependence, social integration and capacity to function well in education, family, cultural and community, or work settings.

Justification: Two in five Canadian children have an immigrant background (StatCan, 2017), with this number expected to continue growing. Research has indicated that although many immigrant youth have positive experiences, many also endure difficult transitions, with issues pre- and post-migration, resulting in a pattern of risk for negative psychosocial well-being, academic performance, and community engagement.

Practical goal: This study will identify the various socio-ecological factors intersecting with migration, culture, religion, and gender that impact the resilience of newcomer youth.

Primary audience: policy makers, service providers, academics, and newcomer youth and families


This study employs a longitudinal design and both quantitative and qualitative methodology. This is a pilot study to test the feasibility of the methodology and a preliminary investigation intended to be the basis for a larger study. The research will be carried out in consultation with a local advisory committee and a youth advisory committee, who will help with the interpretation of the results and the sharing of the research findings.

This study asks the following questions:

  1. What are the protective and promotive factors associated with resilience that influence positive developmental and functional outcomes for newcomer youth?

  2. What factors are associated with resilience against violent extremism in newcomer youth?

  3. What is the impact of cultural and faith-based supports and services, as well as other community and mainstream supports and services, on newcomer youth resilience?

  4. What are the factors that help newcomer youth manage expectations placed on them by the two cultures they belong to (the heritage culture of their caregivers/parents and dominant Canadian culture)?

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