Exploring the sense of belonging of war affected refugee youth

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Mbabaali, Fatumah
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For immigrant and refugee youth, the experience of migration presents significant life changes in their environments, communities, and interpersonal affiliations (Kilbride, Anisef, Baichman-Anisef & Khattar, 2001). Before immigrating to Canada, some refugee youth experienced horrific events that can be traumatic to the fragile identities and sense of belonging of developing children and adolescents. Once in Canada, loneliness, isolation, language deficits, different cultural practices, and in some cases different skin colors may isolate refugee youth and thus jeopardise their sense of belonging in their new country. This study investigated a sense of belonging of war affected refugee youth during their pre-migration and post-migration periods, as well as the factors that may enhance or hinder their sense of belonging. Fifteen participants were interviewed and their responses clearly indicated their desire and need to belong in their new country, to be liked, loved, respected, included, and be part of their new society. Recommendations on how educators can support their quest for belonging and inclusion are discussed.
refugee, youth, belonging