Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Newcomer Civic Participation: The Alliance Homework Club and the Integration of Next Generation Youth in Ottawa

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Newcomer Civic Participation: The Alliance Homework Club and the Integration of Next Generation Youth in Ottawa

Article excerpt


Through the analysis of ethnographic data collected in a homework club serving children of immigrant families, this article reports on a less documented mode of newcomer civic participation that Is non-institutional and unrelated to government. Indeed, contrary to other clubs Included In a larger study, the one discussed here is positioned by its organisers as outside the race for subsidies. Participation in this race entails that organisations such as theirs are accountable to and must frame objectives, which are amenable to those of funding agencies. We find that this parallel mode of participation is based on long-term objectives of immigrant community integration into the host community, most notably through the educational success of their children. Thus, the club presented here is at the intersection of two previously documented newcomer integration strategies: civic participation and investment in the next generation. This is the first study to document such a crossroads.


Dans le cadre d'un plus vaste projet de recherche portant sur les clubs de devoirs en langue francaise dans la Ville d'Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), nous presentons ici une ethnographie menee dans un club sur une periode d'un an. Ce club a ete mis sur pied par un groupe de parents issus de l'immigration et renseigne sur un mode de participation sociale non Institutionnel de nouveaux arrivants. Peu d'etudes documentent ce genre d'initiatives qui se deploient en peripherie des initiatives formelles et institutionnelles. Contrairement a plusieurs autres clubs et initiatives, les moniteurs et organisateurs de ce club ne sont pas a la recherche de financements des gouvernements et cherchent plutot a travailler aupres des jeunes, sans avoir a s'inserer dans un mode de fonctionnement formel. Ce mode de participation permet a ces derniers de poursuivre l'objectif d'une meilleure integration des membres de leur communaute dans la societe d'accueil a travers la reussite scolaire des enfants. Le club de devoirs presente se situe a l'intersection de deux strategies deployees par les nouveaux arrivants : participation sociale et investissement dans la deuxieme generation. Il s'agit ici d'une des premieres etudes a documenter ce type de processus.


In this article, we investigate newcomer civic participation through the study of ethnographic data gathered at a homework club, founded by a Francophone ethno-specific parents' association, which we will refer to as 'the Alliance' (1). The organisers position themselves outside the subsidy race--be it at the school, municipal, provincial or federal levels--which often finances newcomer integration projects or organisations in Canada. Indeed, in our study of 10 homework clubs in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), this is the only one that refused to engage in this competition (2). As such, the Alliance can be seen to typify a mode of civic participation, which Andrew (2015) identifies as the least well-documented, that is non-institutional participation unrelated to government. More specifically, we are interested in understanding the role played by this homework club in terms of social participation and integration of newcomers to Canada. First, we present an overview of the literature pertaining to the subject of integration and assistance with homework. We shall see that, although many researchers have studied partnerships between schools and parents and have shown how tensions exist between them, fewer studies focus on immigrant parents' assistance with homework, especially in a linguistically minoritized context characterized by growing internal diversity. Second, we present our methodological approach followed by an overview of newcomer civic participation strategies as well as remarks concerning homework clubs. Third, we analyze the case of the Alliance homework club in terms of functioning, linguistic issues and desired outcomes of the club. We conclude with some remarks about the roles played by this club in terms of newcomer civic participation as it relates to the specific landscape of two official languages in Canada. …

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