Publications

Below you will find publicly available articles and reports on refugee and migration issues that have been authored or co-authored by Coalition members. Articles are categorized by the four research clusters operating in the Coalition.

In this study, the life experiences of Canadian non-refugee immigrant women were studied to understand their pre-migration lives, the process of decision making about migrating to Canada, and their experiences after resettlement in Canada. A qualitative methodology involving repeated in-depth person-centred interviewing (n ¼ 14) engaged five recent Canadian immigrant women. “Word of mouth” was used to recruit participants. Thematic analysis was applied to the qualitative data set. Loneliness became manifest given the loss of social networks and support systems immigrant women enjoyed in their home countries. Second, the presence of young children and absence of job opportunities for these women had them spending most of their time at home. Third, in some cases, the lack of professional employment opportunities forced the husband leaving Canada to find jobs – resulting in a deeper level of loneliness experienced by the immigrant women.

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Using the data from the General Social Survey (2003), the community engagement of immigrants in Canada has been examined along 15 different dimensions. The findings indicate that immigrants add to the overall level of community engagement in Canada in the areas of confidence in public institutions – such as judiciary, government, police, welfare system, education, and health care – and involvement in religious activities. The areas in which immigrants fall behind are those that involve social interactions with the host population (e.g., trust, neighbourliness, social networks, group activities, volunteering, etc.) or engagement with private sector (i.e., confidence in private institutions such as banks and major corporations). Some of these measures of community engagement improve over time, but there is also an alarming trend that some decline with longer stays in Canada. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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There are two methods for estimating the earnings disadvantage of groups: the residual difference method and the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition. Each method infers disadvantage from differences in earnings of visible minority immigrants and other Canadians, after controls for human capital and job characteristics. We: i) summarize the logic of these methods; ii) critically examine the character of the experience measures used in most of the research; iii) apply the residual difference method to the Workplace and Employee Survey to show how a more thorough approach to the measurement of work experience modifies estimates of earnings disadvantage.

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In this study, the authors sought to determine whether a combination of English-language measures and a parent questionnaire on first-language development could adequately discriminate between English-language learners (ELLs) with and without language impairment (LI) when children had diverse first-language backgrounds. Participants were 152 typically developing (TD) children and 26 children with LI; groups were matched for age (M = 5;10 [years;months]) and exposure to English (M = 21 months). Children were given English standardized tests of nonword repetition, tense morphology, narrative story grammar, and receptive vocabulary. Parents were given a questionnaire on children’s first-language development. ELLs with LI had significantly lower scores than the TD ELLs on the first-language questionnaire and all the English-language measures except for vocabulary. Linear discriminant function analyses showed that good discrimination between the TD and LI groups could be achieved with all measures, except vocabulary, combined. The strongest discriminator was the questionnaire, followed by nonword repetition and tense morphology. Discrimination of  children with LI among a diverse group of ELLs might be possible when using  a combination of measures. Children with LI exhibit deficits in similar linguistic/cognitive domains regardless of whether English is their first or second language.

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Acquisition of English grammatical morphology was examined in five internationally adopted (IA) children from China (aged 0;10–1;1 at adoption) during the first three years’ exposure to English to determine whether acquisition patterns were characteristic of child second language (L2) learners or monolingual first language (L1) learners. Results from spontaneous and elicited speech showed that IA children acquired grammatical morphemes similarly to L1 learners; namely, (1) non-tense-marking morphemes were acquired earlier than tense marking morphemes; (2) BE was acquired in synchrony with other tense-marking morphemes; and (3) a high percentage of omission errors and a low percentage of commission errors were observed.

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This study investigated how various child-internal and child-external factors predict English L2 children’s acquisition outcomes for vocabulary size and accuracy with verb morphology. The children who participated (N=169) were between 4;10 and 7;0 years old (mean = 5;10), had between 3 to 62 months of exposure to English (mean = 20 months), and were from newcomer families to Canada. Results showed that factors such as language aptitude (phonological short term memory and analytic reasoning), age, L1 typology, length of expo- sure to English, and richness of the child’s English environment were significant predictors of variation in children’s L2 outcomes. However, on balance, child- internal factors explained more of the variance in outcomes than child-external factors. Relevance of these findings for Usage-Based theory of language acquisition is discussed.

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There has been a recent resurgence of interest in this population of children in large measure due to clinical and special education researchers who seek to understand how to distinguish between language difference and language disorder in multilingual populations. This renewed interest in child L2 learners has come with a focus on oral language proficiency, because this is essential for assessment and intervention, as well as concern for issues that are more important to L2 learning by children rather than adults, such as the impact of languages spoken in the home on both first language (L1) and L2 development. This review discusses research on L2 children in terms of questions that are particularly relevant to child rather than adult SLA, and to oral language rather than literacy development: (1) Are child L2 acquisition patterns and rates similar to those for L1 acquisition? (2) How do child L2 learners compare with native speakers of the target language their own age? (3) What happens to the L1 development of minority children learning a L2 that is the majority language of the community?

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The number of refugees across the globe is at an alarming high and is expected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future. As a result, finding durable solutions for refugees has become a major challenge worldwide. The literature reviewed and policy implications discussed in this article are based on the premise that one of the major solutions to the refugee crisis must be refugee resettlement in new host countries. For such a solution to succeed, however, requires relatively favorable attitudes by members of host societies, protection of the well-being of refugees, and effective integration of refugees into new host countries. In this context, we begin by reviewing the literature on determinants of public attitudes toward refugees, the acculturation of refugees in host societies, and factors affecting refugee mental health, all of which are directly relevant to the success of the resettlement process. We then turn our attention to the policy implications of these literatures, and discuss strategies for improving public attitudes toward refugees and refugee resettlement in host countries; for improving the resettlement process to reduce mental health challenges; and for supporting the long-term acculturation and integration of refugees in their new homes.

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Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program commenced before the Indochinese refugee flow began, and it has continued for almost 40 years since it subsided. Although conceived of as a complementary partnership, private sponsorship plays out more as a tug-of-war between the conflicting interests of government and sponsors over selection control and numbers. While guided by additionality, sponsors have been confronted with administrative and regulatory changes that challenge them to do more with less, and the fear that overall Canadian resettlement will reduce if their efforts are not expanded. A federal election and change of government in October 2015 may have reset government-sponsor relations but highlights the vulnerability and interpretative malleability of the program. With the pillars of the Indochinese and now Syrian resettlement efforts bookending the analysis, the article provides a historical and contextual understanding of recent changes to private sponsorship and the tensions and conflicting interests in maintaining a voluntary program premised on the resettlement of additional refugees.

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This report describes the results of a telephone survey conducted in April-May 2013 of 2936 immigrants in the four western provinces of Canada regarding their settlement and integration experiences and outcomes, and predictors of these outcomes. The survey instrument used for the current survey constituted a subset of items taken directly or adapted from the Alberta Settlement Outcomes Survey conducted in 2012 (Esses, Ravanera, Burstein, Hallman, & Medianu, 2012), shortened to reduce the length of time required to complete the survey. The current survey included sections assessing: experiences with settlement services in the province of residence, information needs, economic integration and outcomes, social integration and outcomes, and demographic information. Due to time constraints, the question addressing use of settlement services was a shortened version of the question used in the Alberta Settlement Outcomes Survey. Because of the lack of detail provided, it is likely that respondents were unclear as to what constituted settlement services and, as a result, under-reported their use of these services. This is described in more detail in the method and results to follow.

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Finding a job has become a critical challenge to many youth. Immigrant youth, who have been a key part of the global migrants, are particularly vulnerable when entering the job market of the host country due to various structural barriers. However, in both public policy discourse and research, their labour market experience tends to be overlooked. In this paper, we report the employment experience of recently arrived immigrant youth based on an analysis of the LSIC and findings of in-depth interviews of 82 immigrant youth in four cities in Canada. Our results reveal that recently arrived immigrant youth tend to work in lower-skilled employment, experience significant delays in finding employment, have difficulties with foreign credential recognition, and have fewer means to access to job markets.

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Based on narrative data recently collected from youth’s in three Canadian cities, our paper focuses on second generation perceptions of youth’s identifications in a society increasingly influenced by the forces of globalization and how these perceptions may or may not be reflected in programs of study dealing with citizenship education. We utilize a framework consisting of a continuum of mobilities of mind, body, and boundaries to situate their sense of self. The façade of globalisation is examined in terms of its impact on identity formation and these youths’ impressions of diversity and multiculturalism. Finally, we consider the relevance of the findings for citizenship education in Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.

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Au Canada anglais, la recherche sur l’inégalité et la discrimination ethniques a été très productive. Des comportements racistes, ségrégationnistes et discriminatoires, documentés ou non, affectent encore, à des degrés variables, plusieurs institutions canadiennes. Plusieurs groupes ethniques, les Autochtones en particulier, ont attiré progressivement l’attention sur les diverses inégalités qui continuent de miner les groupes marginaux dans la société canadienne. Le Metropolis Project a non seulement fourni des renseignements à tous les niveaux de gouvernements quant aux contributions apportées par les nouveaux arrivants et les réfugiés, mais il a mis en lumière leurs difficultés. Cet essai analyse six des plus récents courants d’étude sur l’inégalité ethnique, à savoir : le capital social et culturel, la thèse de l’intersectionnalité, le racisme démocratique, le «nouveau» racisme, la théorie critique des races et la législation sur l’égalité. Bien que cette liste soit loin d’être exhaustive, elle souligne les recherches les plus prometteuses.

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Self-esteem is recognized as an important correlate of youth mental wellbeing and, by extension, supportive of individual resilience. While an extensive body of literature exists on self-esteem of mainstream youth, less is known about self-esteem experiences of immigrant youth, and in particular newcomer and refugee youth. Applying a community-based participatory research approach, and using mixed methods, the aim of the study presented was to understand social determinants of newcomer youth’s mental wellbeing, and recognize both their challenges and resilience. The chapter focuses on the self-esteem of newcomer youth from four ethnic backgrounds (Afghan, Colombian, Sudanese, and Tamil).The study findings can contribute to mental health promotion strategies in multicultural and immigrant-receiving community settings.

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Due to experiences of forced migration, a large proportion of resettled refugee families arrive in resettlement countries with low levels of education, limited official language fluency, fractured family relationships, and less than optimal physical and mental health. These pre-migration determinants intersect with systemic barriers in ways that make it extremely difficult for refugees to secure employment/income security, access health and settlement services, and pursue their educational and other goals. This chapter discusses the role that newcomer refugee youth play in helping their families resettle in response to systemic post-migration barriers.

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A large percentage of refugees have low levels of education and official language fluency upon arrival in Canada. This paper discusses educational goals of newcomer refugee youth from three communities in Toronto (Afghan, Karen, and Sudanese), and explores how these are linked to pre-migration and post-migration determinants. Guided by community-based research principles, we collaborated with eight refugee youth peer researchers and conducted ten focus groups and thirteen interviews with refugee youth. Results show that newcomer refugee youth develop strong aspirations for higher education in Canada as a proactive response to overcome pre-migration experiences of forced migration and educational disruptions. We then discuss how these youth negotiate educational goals in post-migration context in relation to shifts in family responsibilities and everyday encounter with multiple systemic barriers in Canada. In doing this, we examine the thin line between vulnerability and empowerment that refugee youth straddle and reveal policy gaps and contradictions in the depoliticized humanitarianism within refugee settlement in Canada.

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There is a paucity of Canadian literature on the mental health of newcomer youth. Our study sought to fill this gap by investigating the social determinants of newcomer youth mental health. We focused on newcomer youth (between the ages of 14-18 who have been in Canada for five years or less) and their families from four communities in the Toronto area: Afghan, Colombian, Sudanese, and Tamil. The project was grounded in an academic-community collaboration between the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto and Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services; we also incorporated several principles of Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) including involving newcomer youth from the four communities as peer researchers and as advisory committee members. Drawing on the qualitative component of our research, this article discusses the relationship between settlement stressors, discrimination/exclusion, and the mental health of newcomer youth and their families.

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There is small but growing body of Canadian literature on refugee mental health. To add to this evidence, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services (Access Alliance) conducted two community based research (CBR) projects focused on newly arrived refugee communities in Toronto from Afghan, Karen and Sudanese backgrounds. Both projects investigated determinants of refugee mental health with one project focusing on adult refugees (specifically Government Assisted Refugees) and the other one on refugee youth between the ages of 16 to 24.1 Drawing on these two CBR projects, this article discusses pre-migration and post-migration determinants of mental health for newly arrived refugees. Findings from the two studies suggest that newly arrived refugees face unique and acute forms of pre-migration and post-migration stressors to their mental health.

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Bilingual education, for the purposes of this chapter, is defined as a program at elementary or secondary school where two (or more) languages are used as media for content instruction. In Canada, due to the success and popularity of French immersion, bilingual education programs tend to follow an immersion model, described in more detail later. In this chapter, we consider three main forms of immersion in Canada: (1) French immersion (FI), originally mainly for English-speaking majority students, but now also populated by learners from nonofficial minority language backgrounds (Taylor 2010) (2) heritage language (HL) programs for students with backgrounds in nonofficial languages such as Ukrainian, German, and Mandarin; and (3) indigenous language programs for aboriginal students (e.g., students of Inuit, Mohawk, or Cree backgrounds). Despite some differences, in general, each program type respects two fundamental principles: (1) additive bilingualism is the assumption that acquisition of a second language brings personal, social, cognitive, and economic advantage without negative effects on first language or academic development, and (2) learning a language when it is used as a medium of general curriculum instruction (e.g., in mathematics and science) in an intensive and extensive time period is effective. We begin by summarizing early developments in each program type and then describe the evolution of each along with trends in recent research. We conclude by proposing a number of issues that warrant further research.

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During the fall of 2015 the Canadian public was captured by striking images of the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi on the shores of a Turkish beach. It vividly woke the country to a refugee crisis that had been brewing for years and brought the crisis home because he and his family were trying to make their way to Canada. It became an election issue and later a point of nation building as Canadians rose to the occasion to support refugees. The crisis sparked individuals, communities, academics, business leaders, politicians and service provider organizations to act quickly to welcome unprecedented numbers of refugees in a short time. This was something not seen for at least a generation or two. Now, almost a year later this issue of Canadian Diversity/Diversité canadienne examines the global refugee crisis and Canada’s response.

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Validated measures are needed for assessing resilience in conflict settings. An Arabic version of the Child and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM) was developed and tested in Jordan. Following qualitative work, surveys were implemented with male/female, refugee/nonrefugee samples (= 603, 11–18 years). Confirmatory factor analyses tested three-factor structures for 28- and 12-item CYRMs and measurement equivalence across groups. CYRM-12 showed measurement reliability and face, content, construct (comparative fit index = .92–.98), and convergent validity. Gender-differentiated item loadings reflected resource access and social responsibilities. Resilience scores were inversely associated with mental health symptoms, and for Syrian refugees were unrelated to lifetime trauma exposure. In assessing individual, family, and community-level dimensions of resilience, the CYRM is a useful measure for research and practice with refugee and host-community youth.

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