New Start for Youth - An Examination of the Settlement Pathways of Newcomer Youth
This study explores the challenges that immigrant and refugee youth have experienced and the coping strategies that they have used to deal with their settlement and adjustment process.
The study draws on first-hand accounts of 125 youth in 5 provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec), from 30 countries of origin.
The participants identified these challenges for themselves:
- Language barriers and acquisition
- Negative behaviours - for example, anti-social behaviour, discrimination, racism
- Peer relations - for example, making friends
- School challenges - for example, academic challenges, school culture
- Canadian environment - for example, weather and geography
- Canadian culture - for example, customs, food
- Other challenges
The participants identified these challenges for their families:
- Financial issues - includes employment, credential recognition
- Language barriers and acquisition
- Racism and discrimination
- Parent-child separation
The study found that participants used coping strategies, including:
- Books, TV, media
- Teachers and schools
- General personal characteristics - for example, working hard, being positive or extroverted
- Practicing skills - for example, practising conversational English
- Friends and peer support
- Relying on one's culture
- Community resources
- Other coping strategies
Some participants expressed advice for other young newcomers. The advice fell into these categories:
- Personal characteristics
- Rely on your culture
- Other advice
Recommendations - Summary
The report includes 20 recommendations. Each recommendation is discussed in more detail in the report.
- Create additional literacy and communication support for newcomer youth.
- Enhance place-based programming in settlement agencies as part of a family-based case management approach.
- CIC and provinces should fund English/French adult language programs specifically geared to youth and young adults.
- Implement training sessions/workshops in schools on negative behaviours.
- Teacher training programs need to include training on EAL-FAL teaching methods and the needs of EAL-FAL learners. These need to be core, foundational skills.
- Increase support for newcomer youth who experience negative experiences such as racism or bullying.
Peer and Friendship Relations
- Governments should create funding avenues and opportunities for youth to build peer networks that focus less on language abilities and more on social and recreational activities.
- Create more formalized mentorship/buddy/peer support programs in schools and the community that help create "instant" social networks.
- Increase programming that allows newcomer youth to interact with all of their peers (immigrant, refugee and Canadian-born).
- Enhance teachers' skills in instructional and curriculum development that do not create opportunities for social exclusion.
School and School-Related
- Increase first-language, school-based orientation to help students understand the learning environment, norms and values.
- Develop longer-term social support interventions in schools.
- School-related orientation should start as a pre-departure orientation for youth.
- School officials should ensure that parents know when their child is moved from an academic to a non-academic stream.
- CIC should develop a "Welcome to Canada" survival handbook for young newcomers in many languages. Young newcomers should play a leading role in developing this resource.
- Teachers should get training on how to mentor young newcomers.
- Governments should provide funding and policy direction on ways to engage the private sector to develop work opportunities for newcomer youth.
- Governments should fund a pan-Canadian forum on immigrant and refugee youth to advance public policy on settlement and academic outcomes for newcomer youth.
- CIC Refugee Affairs Branch should create a national resettlement assistance orientation program specifically for refugee youth upon their arrival.