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Being me in Canada: Multidimensional identity and belonging of Russian-speaking immigrant youths

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Title: Being me in Canada: Multidimensional identity and belonging of Russian-speaking immigrant youths
Author: Glozman, Jenny
Department: Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
Program: Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
Advisor: Susan, Chuang
Abstract: Although recent attention has focused on the experiences of immigrants in Canada, few researchers have explored the experiences of invisible immigrants, and Russian-speaking immigrants in particular, whose invisible nature may impact their identity and sense of belonging following their arrival in Canada. Specifically, they may not necessarily integrate with white mainstream Canadians, but they may also not fit in with their visible minority immigrant peers. Moreover, Russian-speaking immigrants often take an indirect path to Canada which may, in turn, have unique contributions to their acculturation experiences which may fit outside of current bicultural models of acculturation. The current study’s focus on immigrant youths is due to the developmental importance of identity and belonging during this time period. Moreover, the role of context in identity and sense of belonging, including peers and politics, will be explored as both factors have been overlooked in past research. Using constructivist grounded theory methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 decimal- and second-generation Russian-speaking immigrant youths (15 to 19 years of age). A substantive theory of the identity and belonging of these youths was developed. Results indicated that the processes youths engaged in were multidirectional, flexible, and dynamic. At the core of the framework were three processes: choosing identities, expressing identities, and fitting in. The results of identity and belonging were often multidimensional, with youths choosing from and expressing more than one identity, and experiencing a sense of belonging with one or more groups. In order to facilitate these processes, youths navigated their context, with a particular focus on family, peers, community, politics, and immigration experiences. The youths’ experiences in navigating the context were both positive and negative which had an impact on their consequent identity and belonging. This study was one of first to consider the multidimensional nature of identity and belonging among immigrant youths, accounting for factors such as invisibility, indirect migration, and religious/cultural minority identities. Moreover, this study explored overlooked contextual factors such as peer group experiences (positive and negative, in-school and out of school, in-group and out-group) and the political context (multiculturalism and political conflict). Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Date: 2015-09
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