The unfolding of souls: schooling experiences of newcomer refugee families in Nova Scotia
LE3 .A278 2020
Aylward, M. Lynn
Doctor of Philosophy
Schools are often the first point of contact for newcomer families where they make relational connections to their new community. This critical qualitative study examines the schooling experiences of five newcomer refugee families in Nova Scotia, relative to their acculturation processes. Through first voice conversations with families using a critical decolonized methodology, data is generated and analyzed with In Vivo and Emotion coding to encapsulate participant reactions to real-life incidents. My study’s findings highlight that families’ pre-and post-migration lived and schooling experiences impact their sense of belonging and acceptance in schools and communities; families have safer and more authentic intracultural relationships with people who share their culture and understanding of marginalization, than interculturally, with those who may not; families’ cultural identities and communal ways of knowing and being are recognized and affirmed by schools, they feel less isolated and acculturate better; and families use resiliency and enculturated ethnic identity to overcome barriers and other forms of discrimination. A decolonized communal lens is applied to traditional attachment theory and the four individualized strategies presented in John Berry’s (1997) acculturation model. The result is a reimagined and enhanced theory that considers connectedness by creating conditions of cultural safety, balance, dignity, and equity for newcomers, to accurately examine their critical acculturation. Systemic change in the areas of prioritizing teacher/student relationships, culturally responsive professional learning, and newcomer parent involvement can help the Canadian education system better welcome newcomer families in, without deliberately shutting them out.
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