Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Monograph

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Supervisor

Dr. Helene Berman

Abstract

This thesis reports on a life history narrative on the experiences of Iraqi refugees who resettled in Canada after living through war. The aim of this study is to help change the narrow perspectives on the mental health of war affected populations to a broader perception shaped by cultural and social aspects and to inform the development of meaning and cultural relevant programs and policies with a particular attention to the concept of resilience.

The first part of the study presents the chronological narratives, or profiles. of eight participants. The second part of the study is a thematic discussion of their experiences with war and resilience. Six major themes are presented. The first major theme describes the war-related experiences the participants faced, and the impact that those experiences had on their daily lives while they were living In Iraq. The second major theme describes the impact that living amidst war had on the social structure of society which then affected participants in various ways depending on their class, gender, ethnicity and religion. The third theme discusses how participants managed the adversities of war in the context of their socio-cultural development. The fourth theme addresses the after-effects of war and describes the meaning-making that resulted from living through traumatic war experiences and how these experiences continue to shape their lives. The fifth theme describes the resilience strategies that participants enacted to manage the negative impacts of war experiences. The final theme describes how participants adapted to resettling in Canada and some of their current major concerns.

The results of this study show that the experiences of the Iraqi war refugees who resettled in Canada vary. Participating in this study afforded safe social spaces to express their narratives and memories. This process enabled the participants to attain political and social acknowledgement and develop new perspectives or modify existing ones. The findings of this study highlights the need for mental health services and public sectors to develop or modify their services to attend to the needs of the refugees and immigrants by adapting more culturally informed approaches.

Summary for Lay Audience

This thesis presents the stories of Iraqi refugees who resettled in Canada after living through war. The purpose of this study is to help change the narrow perspectives on the mental health of war-affected populations to a broader perception shaped by cultural and social aspects and to inform the development of meaningful and culturally relevant programs and policies with a particular attention to the concept of resilience.

The first part of the study presents the chronological life stories of eight participants. The second part of the study is a thematic discussion of their experiences with war and resilience. Six major themes are presented. The first major theme describes the war-related experiences the participants faced, and the impact that those experiences had on their daily lives while they were living in Iraq. The second major theme describes the impact that living amidst war had on the social structure of society which then affected participants in various ways depending on their class, gender, ethnicity and religion. The third theme discusses how participants managed the adversities of war in the context of their socio-cultural development. The fourth theme addresses the after-effects of war and describes the meaning-making that resulted from living through traumatic war experiences and how these experiences continue to shape their lives. The fifth theme describes the resilience strategies that participants enacted to manage the negative impacts of war experiences. The final theme describes how participants adapted to resettling in Canada and some of their current major concerns.

The results of this study show that the experiences of the Iraqi war refugees who resettled in Canada vary. Participating in this study provided safe social spaces to talk about their experiences and memories. This process empowered the participants and helped them to attain political and social acknowledgment and develop new perspectives or modify existing ones. The findings of this study highlight the need for mental health services and public sectors to develop or modify their services to attend to the needs of the refugees and immigrants by adapting more culturally informed approaches.

Share

COinS