Safe Spaces: Youth with Refugee Experience and Their
Parents Harnessing Resilience

Researchers: Susan Brigham1 and Bayan Khatib2
Affiliation: Mount Saint Vincent University1 and The Syrian Canadian Foundation (SCF)2
Research Partner: The Syrian Canadian Foundation
Keywords: refugee youth, refugee parents, families, integration, support, challenges, trauma, resilience, qualitative research, workshops
Jump to: Full Infographic, Methodology


Objective: This study aims to create a space of open discussions for Arabic-speaking refugee youth with experiences of trauma and their parents, in order to explore the tensions that may arise between youth and parents from social integration challenges and concepts and issues related to culture, inter-family communication, rights, and youth empowerment.

Justification: This study will work to develop coping skills (anger management, stress management, emotional expression, affect regulation) and life skills (negotiating, compromise, respecting different opinions, problem solving, and non-violent conflict resolution) in refugee youth and their parents so as to build resilience.

Practical goal: In addition to building resilience and coping and life skills in refugee youth and their parents, this study will contribute to the literature on refugee youth and their families’ experiences with social integration challenges, particularly how young people’s experiences of trauma affect social integration in the context of the family.

Primary audience: refugees, service providers, academics, educators, and policy makers

Infographic Excerpt

Full Infographic


This study employs a qualitative methodology. The project itself will include a series of 10 workshops with refugee youth (n = 10, aged 13 to 20 years old) and their parents living in the Greater Toronto Area. Focus group interviews will be scheduled near the beginning of the workshop series and after the final workshop; both closed- and open-ended questions will be used to gather demographic information and feelings about and perceptions of their experiences in the workshops.

This study asks the following questions:

  1. What are the perceptions and experiences of social integration experiences and inter-family relationships of Arabic speaking refugee youth with experiences of trauma and their parents who reside in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)?

  2. In what ways, if any, has the knowledge (specifically related to developing positive mental health outcomes, coping and life skills) gained through the workshops been helpful/made a difference for the youth and their parents over a period of five months (e.g. from workshop one to workshop ten)?

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