Academic journal article Refuge

Resilience among Single Adult Female Refugees in Hamilton, Ontario

Academic journal article Refuge

Resilience among Single Adult Female Refugees in Hamilton, Ontario

Article excerpt


Single adult females remain among the most vulnerable of all refugee populations. However, there is a lack of research on supporting and empowering these women. There is a new interest in identifying factors that reinforce resilience and, ultimately, adjustment to the host country. In line with the current work on resilience, semi-structured, in-depth, personal interviews with single refugee women were conducted in the city of Hamilton, Ontario. A grounded theory approach revealed participants' perspectives on the support received from religious or cultural communities, non-governmental organizations, and the government in terms of their perceived contribution to adaptation. Both informal and formal support, along with individual characteristics, were found to be crucial for reinforcing resilience among these refugees, reflective of a collective resilience model that moves beyond individual and community resilience. Future research should aim to investigate the perspectives of those who did hot receive social support from shelters as well as to assess the efficacy of current refugee support services.


Les femmes adultes celibataires demeurent parmi les plus vulnerables des groupes de refugies. On remarque cependant un manque de recherches sur le soutien et l'autonomisation de ces femmes. Il y a par ailleurs un nouvel interet pour l'identification des facteurs augmentant la resilience et par consequent la capacite d'ajustement au pays d'accueil. En lien avec ces travaux sur la resilience, des entrevues individuelles approfondies et semi-structurees avec des femmes refugiees celibataires ont ete effectuees a Hamilton en Ontario. L'approche basee sur la theorie a mis en lumiere leur point de vue sur le soutien quelles recoivent des communautes culturelles et religieuses et des organisations gouvernementales et non-gouvernementales, plus particulierement au niveau de leur adaptation. Le soutien formel et informel, en plus des caracteristiques personnelles, s'averent etre des facteurs importants pour l'amelioration de leur resilience, illustrant un modele de resilience qui va au-dela de la resilience individuelle et des communautes. Les recherches a venir devraient examiner la perception des refugies qui n'ont pas recu de soutien social et evaluer l'efficacite des services actuels de soutien aux refugies.


Internationally, there has been a sustained increase in the number of people who seek refuge from harm in their home country. (1) Although Canada prides itself on its humanitarian role and acceptance of refugees, there is comparatively limited research evidence surrounding the needs of refugees, as well as their ultimate success in adaptation to the host country. Indeed, a systematic review of published research on Canadian refugee health emphasizes the urgent need to fill the gaps of health knowledge for refugee populations, including the refugees' perspective on factors that ease their relocation. (2)

The limited research on refugees in the host country context typically focuses upon the barriers to health care encountered by refugees that limit or slow their adaptation to the host country. (3) While these barriers are relatively well understood, there is a new interest in identifying the strengths or features that promote resilience and, ultimately, adjustment to the host country, rather than focusing on problems, risks, and failures. This is what is referred to as an asset-focused model: factors that support the ability for refugees to overcome barriers and that promote more successful integration to the host society. (4) Much of this work is conducted through the concept of resilience. While there are varying definitions of resilience, it can be broadly defined as "a class of phenomena characterized by the ability to bounce back and cope effectively in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development." (5) Resilience is distinct from adaptation: it refers to a refugee's ability to resist serious stress during the process of adapting to a new community. …

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