Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Bridging the Gaps: Access to Formal Support Services among Young African Immigrants and Refugees in Metro Vancouver

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Bridging the Gaps: Access to Formal Support Services among Young African Immigrants and Refugees in Metro Vancouver

Article excerpt

Abstract

Although it is widely recognized that the most marginalized people tend to face extra barriers when accessing mainstream services intended to serve everyone, few studies have dealt with the specific barriers and challenges that immigrant and refugee youth from small, marginalized communities encounter when seeking access to services aimed at facilitating their settlement and integration into Canadian society. Our exploratory study of the participation of young African newcomers In youth programs In Metro Vancouver goes some way towards filling this gap. In this paper, we report our key findings and their policy implications. The central finding of this study is that there are many gaps between the needs of young African newcomers and the services available in the wider community. While gaps inhibit successful integration by maintaining a separation of youth from mainstream society, bridges create a continuum of services that offer a stable pathway for youth and promote their integration into mainstream society. Unfortunately, in their attempts to access formal support networks, young African newcomers encounter more gaps than bridges. While newcomers from all countries have particular needs and challenges, the experiences of the young Africans described in this study provide an important reference point for scholars and practitioners who are concerned about the predicaments of newcomer youth, particularly refugees and those from marginalised communities.

Resume

Bien qu'il soit largement reconnu que les personnes les plus marginallsees ont tendance a faire face a des obstacles supplementaires quand ils cherchent a acceder aux services conventionnels destines a tous, peu d'etudes ont porte sur les obstacles specifiques et les defis auxquels les jeunes immigrants et refugies, de petites communautes marginalisees rencontrent lorsqu'ils cherchent a acceder aux services pouvant faciliter leur etablissement et integration dans Ia societe canadienne. Notre etude exploratoire de la participation des jeunes nouveaux arrivants africains dans les programmes de jeunesse de Metro Vancouver, va dans le sens de combler cette lacune. Dans cet article, nous presentons nos conclusions principales ainsi que leurs implications politiques. La conclusion principale de cette etude est qu'il y a beaucoup d'ecarts entre les besoins des jeunes nouveaux arrivants africains et les services disponibles dans la communaute plus large. Pendant que les ecarts empechent l'integration reussie en malntenant la jeunesse separee de la societe principale, les ponts creent une continulte des services qui offre une voie stable aux jeunes et promeut leur integration dans la societe principale. Malheureusement, dans leurs tentatives d'acces a des reseaux formeis de soutien, les jeunes nouveaux arrivants africains rencontrent plus d'ecarts que de ponts. Alors que les nouveaux arrivants de tous les pays ont des besoins et defis particuIiers, l'experience des jeunes africains decrite dans cette etude fournit un point de reference important pour les chercheurs et praticiens qui sont preoccupes par les conditions precaires des jeunes nouveaux arrivants, particulierement les refugies et ceux des communautes marginalisees.

INTRODUCTION

Young people make up a significant portion of newcomers to Canada. In 2013, 30% of all immigrants were under the age of 25 (CIC 2014). Such newcomers face a kind of double jeopardy: being new and being young. Until now, most studies of young newcomers have tended to focus on their needs and challenges in the areas of mental health, education, and employment. Furthermore, they also treat immigrant and refugee youth as a group without considering how membership in a particular ethnic community affects settlement trajectories. However, little is known about the challenges faced by young immigrants when accessing social services. Anecdotally, it is understood that those from small and relatively marginalized ethnic communities do not have access to formal support within their own community and have to seek help from mainstream organizations. …

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