Syrian Refugee Children’s Representations of their Memories of Syria, a Transition Country, and Early Days in Canada
Researchers: Mehrunnisa Ali1, Cyrus Sundar Singh1, Gina Gibran1
Affiliation:Toronto Metropolitan University1
Keywords: Syrian refugee children, transition country, Canada, memories, autobiography, art-based research, documentary, research ethics, qualitative methodology
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Overview: This study looked at Syrian refugee children’s memories of Syria, Jordan/ Lebanon, and early days in Canada through autobiographical drawings and writings, resulting in a short video documentary. The researchers also reflected on the ethical and methodological dimensions of working with refugee children.
Objective: to record the memories of a small number of Syrian refugee children, to lift their voices into the public sphere, to understand what the children remember and what conditions contribute to those memories, and to produce a short documentary capable of reaching a diverse audience.
Research Justification: Several scholars have advocated for children’s experiences to be articulated by children themselves. There is very little research recording the unique memories of Syrian refugee children or addressing the ethical challenges of working with this population. The short video document of children’s memories will help service providers, educators, and academics better understand Syrian children’s experiences.
This study built on a recent project that recorded thirteen (5 to 13 years old) Syrian refugee children’s memories of Syrian, Jordan/Lebanon, and early days in Canada. These children had moved to Canada in the last 2-3 years. The children produced autobiographies with drawings and written/dictated texts which they discussed with the researchers. This was done over three sessions in the participants’ homes. The research assistants (RAs) who collected the data spoke Arabic and had prior experience working with Syrian refugee children. Towards the end of the project, the children presented their work to each other, their parents, and the researchers in two small groups. All these interactions were video recorded.
This dataset, including photographs of the children’s drawing and writing, video-records of their conversations with the researchers and presentations, and transcripts of research conversations, were selected, edited, and compiled to form a coherent narrative in the form of a video documentary.
There were several unique challenges to conducting research with Syrian refugee children:
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