Arts-based engagement ethnography with newcomer youth in Canada: Learning from their experiences.

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Newcomer youth experience unique challenges when integrating into high schools in their host countries. As newcomer communities grow across Canada, high schools are faced with the increased challenge of meeting their needs. Schools are often the first point of contact for newcomer youth, and their experiences of school integration can directly impact other aspects of their integration experience, including mental and physical health, relationships with friends and family, and the ability to fit into broader society. This research started with the question: How do newcomer youth experience school integration following migration to Canada? Using an art-based engagement ethnography (ABEE), coupled with a social justice framework, our aim was to capture newcomer youth’s experiences of school integration in order to identify ways in which schools, teachers, and practitioners, as well as the broader education system, could better support these students. Using cultural probes (e.g., maps, journals, cameras), qualitative interviews, and focus groups, four participants documented their everyday experiences of school integration. An ethnographic analysis of these materials revealed three interconnected structures (challenges to school integration; responses and resiliencies in the face of challenges, and; understanding of identity during school integration) as well as specific recommendations from participants for improving the experiences of other newcomer students. These are conveyed in two manuscripts that together give both a nuanced look into the experiences of newcomer students and suggestions for practitioners and policy makers who wish to support these youth.
Newcomer youth, School integration, Social justice, Arts-based engagement ethnography, Education
Smith, D. J. (2020). Arts-based engagement ethnography with newcomer youth in Canada: Learning from their experiences. (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from