Dissertation Abstracts

Young Immigrant Lives: A Study of the Migration and Settlement Experiences of Immigrant and Refugee Youth in Windsor, Ontario

Author: Erwin D. Selimos, selimos@uwindsor.ca
Department: Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology
University: University of Windsor, Canada
Supervisor: Dr. Gerald Cradock
Year of completion: 2017
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Immigrant and refugee youth , Migration , Social inclusion and exclusion , Qualitative research
Areas of Research: Migration , Youth


Immigrant and refugee youth make up an important proportion of Canada’s population, yet research focuses predominantly on the concerns of immigrant and refugee adults. Canadian and international scholarship that does attend to questions of youth and migration often depicts young immigrants and refugees in ways that overemphasize their vulnerabilities and neglect their active participation in the migration and settlement process. Furthermore, researchers, service providers and policymakers remain interested in understanding the social concerns and experiences of immigrant and refugee youth and point to the need to explore the experiences of immigrant and refugee youth living in mid-sized and smaller Canadian cities. This dissertation research addresses these gaps in knowledge by exploring young immigrants’ and refugees’ experiences of migration and settlement in Windsor, Ontario, a mid-sized immigrant-receiving city in Canada. Based on in-depth interviews and focus groups with immigrant and refugee youth, as well as adults who work closely with them daily, the study investigates young immigrants’ and refugees’ active participation in various social realms, including, but not limited to, family, peer groups, school, and community life, and pinpoints the institutional and contextual features that shaped their migration, settlement, belonging, and social inclusion experiences. The study reveals a complex picture of youth migration, settlement, and social inclusion in Windsor, Ontario. Immigrant and refugee youth are active social actors who in relation to their unique migration experiences and biographies attempt to craft a life for themselves and their family. However, they fashion this new life within the contexts of complex institutionally structured supports and constraints. In their migration and settlement processes, immigrant and refugee youth confront opportunities, constraints, inclusions, exclusions, openings, and barriers in complex and often unpredictable ways. The result is the production of a sense of social ambivalence: a recognition among many young immigrants and refugees of their uncertain status in a society that helps them and hinders them, accepts them and rejects them.

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