“You Have to be Resilient”: A Qualitative Study Exploring Advice Newcomer Youth Have for Other Newcomer Youth.


Research infrequently includes the perspectives of vulnerable and marginalized youth. As the population of newcomer youth in Canada continues to grow, it is imperative that attention is devoted not only to challenges they experience, but also to resilience factors they perceive to support their adjustment and well-being. To address this gap, this qualitative research explored newcomer youths’ experiences and advice for other newcomer youth who have recently arrived in Canada. Thirty-seven newcomer youth from two medium-sized cities in Ontario participated in focus groups. Participants ranged from 14 to 22 in age and identified mostly as female refugees from the Middle East. Through thematic analysis, five overarching themes were found across groups: (1) moving to a new country is hard, (2) maintain a healthy mindset, (3) take an active role in the adjustment process, (4) stay true to who you are, (5) and you are not alone. Youth described hardships that make moving to a new country difficult including lack of belonging due to racism and bullying, insufficient orientation to new systems, language barriers, and high levels of stress. Findings demonstrated youths’ resilience, coping skills, and strategies to lead meaningful lives. Youth discussed resilience strategies such as maintaining a connection with home culture and religion, reframing thinking to be positive, receiving emotional support, accessing community support at newcomer agencies, and building language proficiency. Findings provide implications for professionals working with newcomer youth and reflect the importance of addressing structural barriers and racism. The opportunity for newcomer youth to share experiences as experts in research may also help to promote resilience. Immigration accounts for approximately two-thirds of the population growth in Canada. (Statistics Canada, 2017a). While the economic class of immigrants (i.e. those who have specific occupational skills and experience to support the needs in Canada’s labor market) makes up the greatest proportion of newcomers admitted into the country each year, the Canadian government notably increased the number of refugees to be resettled into the country. An influx of nearly 100,000 refugees resettled in Canada between January 2015 and March 2018, many of whom were under the age of 18 (Child and Youth Refugee Research Coalition, 2018). Global trends reveal that we are presently experiencing one of the largest humanitarian crises in history as the number of forcibly displaced persons worldwide has grown substantially, reaching 70.8 million by the end of 2018 (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2018). As part of Canada’s humanitarian commitment to resettle those most at risk, the country had plans to welcome over 30,000 refugees in 2020 (IRCC, 2020). The term newcomer will be used throughout this paper as an inclusive category that describes individuals who have been in the country five years or less

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