Is Canada My Home? Understanding the Factors that Contribute to a Sense of Belonging to Canada for Mothers with Young Children, Seniors and Youth With Lived Refugee Experiences

The overall goal of the partnership between DIVERSEcity and Simon Fraser University is to incorporate the voices of youth, seniors and mothers of young children with a refugee experience by asking about their definition of ‘sense of belonging’ and what fosters or hinders their sense of belonging to Canada.

Project summary

Principal Investigator

Aude-Claire Fourot

Simon Fraser University, Canada

Co-investigator

Jessica Forster

DIVERSEcity, Canada

Faced with a growing number of refugees arriving to the province, Surrey has remained the top city in B.C. for refugee resettlement. In this context, many immigration service provider organizations (SPOs) like DIVERSEcity, have been working towards creating support programs to facilitate refugees' adjustment and to foster their sense of belonging to Canada, notably through programming focused on language development and employment. However, gaining employment is often not a priority for a significant portion of the refugee population, such as youth, seniors and mothers of young children. This results in specific challenges for SPOs because the lack of services tailored to these groups exacerbates existing barriers to integration and prevents the development of a sense of belonging. Moreover, SPOs cannot benefit from academic research in this area, since few researchers have studied the specific needs that youth, seniors and mothers of young children have.

Focus groups with these three categories of refugees will be used to uncover the following:

  1. Definitions of belonging and what concrete experiences lead to feeling ‘secure’ and ‘at home’ in a new country;
  2. Refugees' needs and barriers to belonging;
  3. Types of programming which may influence their sense of belonging; and
  4. The extent to which there is a ‘duty’ to belong. We will analyze the results in examining whether the meaning of belonging varies over time and how differences among groups and individuals (age, entry status, etc.) might influence feelings of belonging.