Ukrainian Canadian Newcomers’ Stories, Hopes, and Dreams: Adapting to a New Multicultural Reality
Keywords:mental health, immigration, identity, positive peace, transformative experiences, cross-culture
Introduction: This paper focuses on the experiences of thirty-three newcomer Ukrainian Canadians as they adapt to their new multicultural reality in Canada. Challenges of leaving home and adjusting are studied along with changes to identity and strategies of resilience.
Purpose: Using a mental health and peace building lens, we hope that our findings will inform better understanding of newcomer struggles, hopes and dreams and can be helpful in transforming existing injustices in Canada’s vibrant multicultural society towards positive peace
Methodology: Supported by a document search that supplies the broader context, the heart of the research is based on individual narrative interviews conducted in 2020/2021 with grassroot Ukrainian Canadians who immigrated to Canada as adults before Russia’s overt invasion of Ukraine. The experiences of these modern newcomer research participants are viewed through a peacebuilding and mental health lens.
Results: While coming from the same country in a relatively short period of history, study participants were found to be a multivariate group. There were often competing needs for personal growth, security (economic and physical) and belonging. Major challenges upon arrival in their new home also varied. Along with some downshift in employment status, they experienced challenges to identity, language, finances, cultural adaptation, along with loneliness and sadness at leaving their homeland. They shared personal resilience strategies. Participants shared hopes and dreams for themselves, Ukraine, and Canada ,along with advice for others considering the journey.
Conclusion: As Canada’s ethnic and cultural makeup continues to evolve through embracing our current multicultural population accepting increasing numbers of immigrants, newcomers’ experiences and their integration become important aspects of the multiculturalism debate which acknowledges the importance of developing harmonious relationships between Canada’s new and older settler population and the Indigenous people who share this land. This study highlights the importance of newcomers engaging in cross-cultural experiences, while considering one’s own identity at home and in community
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