Immigration Challenges

CanadaImmigration

Mahsa Hamedanizadeh, Master of Counselling Psychology Student (MACP)

Adler University

June 21, 2021

Immigration is a major life-changing experience that redefines the roles, identity, and self of immigrants adapting to a new culture (Shirpak et al., 2011). Ethnic identity refers to identifying self to one’s ethnic group and the involvement in ethnic behaviours and practices. Ethnic identity stabilizes over time and becomes salient in adulthood (Vu et al., 2019). Immigration impacts the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of individuals re-establishing their roles in an unfamiliar country. Immigration may bring stress for individuals, leading to increased anxiety levels, depression, and psychosomatic symptoms (Stevens et al., 2007). Making a positive transition is not always possible, or the same for all immigrants as some may lose their sense of identity, confidence, and authority in the process of adapting to the new language, culture, and roles (Choi et al., 2008). Assimilation into a new culture usually has three identity stages. Immigrants in the first stage experience feelings of fear, loneliness, and helplessness. Next, they experience sorrow and homesickness. Third, they start making plans for the future and integrate the new culture into their modified self (Choi et al., 2008). During the immigration process, acculturation is an important concept to consider.

Acculturation is defined as moving toward a new culture. It is a process usually experienced by immigrants and their children through adapting to a culture that differs from the one they were born and raised in. Acculturation refers to the behavioural and psychological changes that occur due to navigating between two cultures (Vu et al., 2019). Acculturation experience varies for immigrants but can eventually be achieved upon assimilation to the new culture and acceptance by the dominant culture (Kiang et al., 2017). Acculturation may cause immigrants to experience many losses on different levels of their lives, such as language, customs, environment, roles, and values. The old roles such as being a man, woman, husband, wife, parent, and child that were part of the natural order in one’s culture, may not be sufficient or the same in another country (Shirpak et al., 2011). As a result of acculturation, adaptation, unemployment, under-employment, and loss of cultural referents, immigrants may experience a high rate of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and family conflict (Shirpak et al., 2011). These experiences depend on many aspects such as the individual’s acculturation approach, the degree of heritage maintenance, and the level of coping with the new culture (Stevens et al., 2007). Integration, having positive relationships with both the culture of origin and the host culture, can provide the strongest sociocultural basis for good psychological health (Stevens et al., 2007). According to the Family Stress Model, contextual stressors can cause disruption in family relationships (Miao et al., 2018). Studies on Mexican American immigrants found that economic stress can lead to less positive parental relations. There is also a feeling of being excluded or rejected from society because having a different ethnic background causes immigrants to feel distressed and have poor psychological adjustment. In addition, having a language barrier is a major stressor for immigrants, which introduces challenges in social, academic, and work settings. This makes immigrants feel more stressed, isolated, and inadequate (Miao et al., 2018).

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the mental and physical health of refugees and immigrants. Levels of depression, fear, anxiety, and loneliness have increased due to pandemic, putting many individuals at risk of drugs and alcohol use (Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2021). Access to resources may be limited for immigrants because of the language barrier and lack of knowledge of available resources in Canada. For this purpose this article collected useful resources for new commers.

Resources

Note: Most of the following websites provide mental health services to new commers.

Services and programs for newcomers

Full link: https://www.welcomebc.ca/Resources-For/Communities-Service-Providers/Services-and-programs-for-newcomers

  • Supporting immigrants in the labour force:

Entering the labour force can be challenging for newcomers because their qualifications may not be recognized in B.C. which puts them in risk of underemployment. This website addresses these challenges through several services and programs.

  • Settlement services:

This website also has several settlement agencies that offer various services to help newcomers settle in B.C. Services include assistance in finding a place to live, referral to language classes, and short-term crisis counselling.

Immigration resources

Full link: http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/whocanhelp/immigration.htm   

1.      Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/ Phone: 1-888-242-2100

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) facilitates the arrival of immigrants, provides protection to refugees and offers programming to help newcomers settle in Canada. It also:

  • Grants citizenship,
  • Issues travel documents (such as passports) to Canadians and
  • Promotes multiculturalism.

2. DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society (DIVERSEcity)
http://www.dcrs.ca/

DIVERSEcity offers a wide range of services and programs to the culturally diverse communities of the lower mainland.

Their services delivery areas are:

  • Settlement and Community Programs
  • Language Training and Literacy Programs
  • Employment Services and Skills Training Services
  • Counselling Services
  • Programs for Children and Youth
  • Interpretation and Translation Services 

3.      Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (ISSofBC)

http://issbc.org/ Phone: 604-684-2561

ISSofBC is the largest agency in Western Canada, with targeted programs for refugees, women, children, and youth, plus support services in over 45 languages. Their programs and services are available throughout Metro Vancouver, Squamish, and the Okanagan.

They provide various support services for immigrants and refugees to help them get settled, find careers and learn all they need to know about starting their new lives in Canada.

4. Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS)

http://pirs.bc.ca/ Phone: 604-298-5888

PIRS provides services for immigrant women and their young children in learning and practicing English, making new friends, gaining self-confidence, understanding their Canadian society, and in exploring and celebrating diversity.

Services include ESL for women with a childcare/preschool component; and women’s development programs in English for women with intermediate English skills.  In addition, the program models provide women with awareness and key facts about their community, elements that are necessary to achieve the community involvement and integration that our participants aspire to.

5.      The Multicultural Helping House Society – Newcomers Resource Centre (MHHS–NRC)

http://www.helpinghouse.ca/ Phone: 604-879-3277

The MHHS–NRC is a registered non-profit society and charitable organization dedicated to servicing the needs of newcomers in Canada.  The MHHS-NRC has assisted thousands of new immigrants in addressing their needs from settlement, employment, social services, skills enhancement, respite housing, legal assistance, and education services. 

The MHHS-NRC and its team members can provide you with much needed information regarding your settlement in Canada. Receive valuable information pertaining to:

  • Housing and your rights and obligations as a tenant
  • How to file your information with various government agencies
  • The benefits you can enjoy from the government
  • An understanding of the Canadian job market
  • Canadian tax system
  • Legal assistance
  • An understanding on the process of sponsoring loved-ones for migration to Canada

BC 211 (finding services)

This is a great and convenient source that you can access to find any services you are looking for. When you go to the website, you must enter your postal code or your area (city) and the type of service you are looking for. Once you entered these information, you are able to see variety of locations with the type of services they provide as well as their contact information.

Resources for LGBTQ+ community

  1. QMUNITY, BC’s Queer, Trans, & Two-Spirit Resource Centre  

QMUNITY is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver, BC that improves queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives. they provide a safer space for LGBTQ2SAI+ people and their allies to fully self-express while feeling welcome and included.  They provide Free counselling, Information and referrals, Access to gender-affirming chestwear, and youth one-on-one peer support

2. Welcome Friend Association 

Welcome Friend Association educates and promotes awareness in society regarding gender, sexual identities and expressions. they provide outreach and support for people impacted by gender and sexual issues. Programs include: counselling services, Rainbow Camp, Rainbow Online Connection, Events, Seminars and Resources

3. Mental health resources created for LGBTQIA+ people that has both national and local resources

https://www.sewi.org/lgbtq?gclid=CjwKCAjw_JuGBhBkEiwA1xmbRTURFXKqg0L3vnRV-XWZ7tqr1xcnODyvoASxMEsoRRpMaNbkyKoalBoCjRgQAvD_BwE

This is a website that has mental health resources created for LGBTQIA+ people that has both national and local resources

4. QCHAT: peer support volunteer

https://www.qchat.ca/

Through this website, LGBTQ+ individuals can chat with a peer support volunteer 24/7

Resources for people with disabilities

1.   Disability Alliance BC

https://www.bbb.org/ca/bc/vancouver/profile/social-service-organizations/disability-alliance-bc-0037-109387?gclid=CjwKCAjwuIWHBhBDEiwACXQYsbkEiBZDFVBY4IANW4KG8G3_l3ECB9IHzULjt624Je6umQDhQzZ5IxoCi9YQAvD_BwE

  • Helps people apply for disability benefits,
  • Free legal advice
  • Run free workshops
  • Tax Filing
  • Emergency Preparedness, Anti-Violence Projects, Accessibility Projects

2.   Assistive Technology BC

https://www.ldrfa.org/?https%3A%2F%2Fwww_ldrfa_org%2Fresources-events%2Fpresentations-and-research%2F&gclid=CjwKCAjwuIWHBhBDEiwACXQYscsg1gXFXXxzZT4qwfdgl3dU8mwBuSsPrHlEg8T9yYdWzIBecN-aIhoC_ycQAvD_BwE
  • Provides technology to make environments more accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Canada Student Grant for qualifying individuals.
  • Various other services

3. Rick Hansen Foundation

https://www.rickhansen.com/

  • Driven to remove barriers and increase access for individuals with disabilities.
  • Ratings and Certification.
  • Awareness Programs
  • SCI Research
  • Resources for individuals living in crisis and poverty

4. Family Services of Greater Vancouver

  • Over 50 programs, services, groups, and workshops
  • support thousands of families &individuals across the Lower Mainland living in crisis.

5. REACH Community Health Centre

https://www.reachcentre.bc.ca

  • A community-governed organization that provides primary health, dental care, and social and educational services to support physical and mental health and well-being.

6. Mom2Mom Charity

https://www.m2mcharity.ca

  • Improves the lives of children living in poverty by supporting their moms.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS

      1. Canada Child Benefit

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/child-family-benefits/canada-child-benefit-overview.html

      2. Canada Learning Bond

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/learning-bond.html

      3. Guaranteed Income Supplement

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/old-age-    security/guaranteed-income-supplement.html

      4. Working Income Tax Benefit

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/child-family-benefits/canada-workers-benefit.html

      5. Homelessness Partnering Strategy

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2017/07/backgrounder_homelessnesspartneringstrategy.html

Unhoused children and families (Homelessness)

1. Street to Home

  • addresses gaps in housing, addiction, education and employment needs of homeless individuals

2. Pivot Legal Society

https://www.pivotlegal.org/

  • active in promoting solutions for dealing with homelessness

3. Homelessness Services Association of BC

https://hsa-bc.ca/

  • Training, networking, and development of best practice around homelessness, also has a shelter directory

Shelters

     1. Union Gospel Mission Housing Society with BC Housing

https://www.ugm.ca/services/affordable-housing/
  • Family-oriented units at low-rent costs, and family emergency shelter

     2. Fraserside

          https://www.fraserside.bc.ca/social -housing/emergency-family-shelter/ 

  • Family shelter in New West

      3. Covenant House

  • shelter for youth 16 to 24

References

Choi, Y., He, M., & Harachi, T. W. (2008). Intergenerational cultural dissonance, parent–child conflict and bonding, and youth problem behaviours among Vietnamese and  Cambodian immigrant families, Springer Science+Business Media, 37(1), 85–96. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-007-9217-z

Kiang, L., Glatz, T., & Buchanan, C. M. (2017). Acculturation conflict, cultural parenting , Self-efficacy, and perceived parenting competence in Asian American and Latino/a families. Family Process Institute, 56(4), 943-961. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12266

Miao, S. W., Costigan., C. L., & MacDonald, W. S. (2018). Spillover of stress to Chinese  Canadian immigrants’ parenting: Impact of acculturation and parent–child stressors,  Asian American Journal of Psychology, 9(3), 190–199.  http://doi.org/10.1037/aap0000105

Shirpak, K. R., Tyndale, E. M., & Chinichian, M. (2011). Post migration changes in Iranian immigrants’ couple relationships in Canada. Journal of Comparative Family Studies,  42(6), 751–770. https://doi.org/10.3138/jcfs.42.6.751

Stevens, G. W. J. M., Vollebergh, W.A. M., Pels, T. V. M., & Crijnen, A. A. M. (2007). Problem Behaviour and acculturation in Moroccan immigrant adolescents in the Netherlands effects of gender and parent-child conflict. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 38(3), 310-317. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022107300277

Refugees and migrants in the pandemic. (2021). Bulletin of the World Health Organization        ,99(2), 80. https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.21.010221

Vu, K. T. T., Castro, K. M., Cheah, C. S. L., & Yu, J. (2019). Mediating and moderating                                    processes in the associations between Chinese immigrant mothers’ acculturation and                  parenting styles in the United States. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 10(4), 307– 315. https://doi.org/10.1037/aap0000150

Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on pinterest

More articles

Newsletter Sign Up

To get our free biweekly newsletter. Receive information about Latin American news in BC and in the world..