Navigating New Spaces: An Evaluation of ISANS’ Youth Life Skills Support Program

Researchers: Catherine Bryan
Affiliation: Dalhousie University
Research Partner: Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)
Keywords: refugee youth, Government Assisted Refugees (GARs), Nova Scotia, ISANS life skills support  program, settlement, program evaluation


Objective: This study aims to evaluate ISANS’ Youth Life Skills Support (LSS) program through an account of the program, youths’ experiences, an assessment of its outcomes for participants and peer mentors; and to offer insights into how the program might be strengthened.

Justification: Since 2013, 190 Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) youth have participated in LSS, which provides group orientation, links youth to programming, and matches them with a peer mentor who are themselves refugee youth. Though evidenced by participant feedback, LSS’ success has not been comprehensively evaluated. A program evaluation is timely as the number of GARs in Nova Scotia steadily rises, and amongst them, the number of youths.

Practical goal: By evaluating the success of the LSS program, this study aims to increase our understanding of the trajectories of refugee youth, highlighting their strengths, capacities, and the supports and conditions required to maximize their resettlement outcomes.

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


This study employs qualitative methodology; to ensure a fulsome depiction of the needs of GAR-youth, as well as their LSS experience and its outcomes. In-depth interviews will be conducted with 20 mentors and 30 youth who have completed LSS in the last three years.

This study is guided by the following questions:

  1. What do youth want to accomplish through LSS participation? (What are their corresponding needs?)

  2. What facilitates participation? (What might serve as a barrier?)

  3. What are the experiences of LSS for youth participants/mentors?

  4. What is the impact of LSS participation? And how do participants use their learning?

  5. How are youth participants satisfied with LSS?

  6. How can LSS be strengthened?

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