Living in Canada: Experiences of Newcomer Youth from the Former Yugoslavia

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Karlovic, Valerija
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Mount Saint Vincent University
An increasing number of studies and personalized accounts recognize significant issues of Canadian immigrant children and youth as they and their newcomer families adjust to living in Canada. Challenges involved in learning English as a second language, adapting to the Canadian public education system, facing possible isolation and loneliness, and experiencing difficulty building new friendships in Canada are some of the impediments Canadian newcomer children and youth encounter following arrival, regardless of their particular cultural background and affiliation. These and other adjustment challenges are often compounded for immigrant and refugee children and youth from countries tom by conflict, and who, understandably, bring with them the impact of their extraordinary pre-immigration circumstances, their separation from, or loss of, cherished familial and other relationships, and uncertainty about their lives in a new country. The present research, utilizing qualitative inquiry, elicited the voices, attitudes, perspectives, and opinions of newcomer youth from the Former Yugoslavia, for the purpose of exploring, discovering, and understanding their earlier and current adjustment experiences while living in Canada. Three focus groups (two with younger youth, 13-15 years old, and one with older youth, 16-18 years old) and four individual interviews were conducted with 26 volunteer participants recruited from the Former Yugoslavian community in the greater Halifax Region Municipality. The interview sessions were audio-taped and collected data were transcribed, translated (one individual interview was conducted in Serbo-Croatian), and analyzed utilizing systematic cross-comparative coding, by which the researcher eventually organized the findings for discussion within four major categories: Cultural Affiliation/ Retention, Pre-Immigration Experiences, Newcomer Experiences, and Supports and Services. Recommendations, in accordance with the research findings, are presented for the participant youth and various significantly related/ impacted groups (parents, schools, media, community, educational and government sectors).
Newcomers, Yugoslavia, Immigrants, Immigration, Canada, Youth