Master of Arts
Geography and Environment
Migration and Ethnic Relations
Hopkins, Jeff S. P.
How can Syrian refugees’ feelings of attachment towards places and spaces in Ottawa, ON be used to indicate their own sense of integration into Canadian society? Exploring research participants’ place attachments to the city of Ottawa enables a greater understanding of their lived geographies that either hinder or elevate their integration experience. The mixed-method data collection used in this research study include an online qualitative survey, in-depth interviews, and a mental mapping exercise. The analysis of the data is based upon five factors of place attachment used to define integration. These are comfort, security, relationships, involvement, and rootedness. Results suggest that all of the research participants have self-identified as successfully integrated into Canadian society.
Summary for Lay Audience
This research study sought to understand how can Syrian refugees’ feelings of attachment towards places and spaces in Ottawa, ON be used to indicate their own sense of integration into Canadian society? To answer this question, this research study sought to learn Syrian refugees’ experiences in, knowledge of and attachments to various places and spaces in Ottawa, Ontario to understand where, why and what types of places and spaces elevate or hinder their integration experience. Integration is understood as being able to adapt to the dominant culture in Canada without neglecting ones own cultural and social values. This study had three main research objectives. First, to create a means of assessment to assess the nature of place attachment and place making experienced by the Syrian refugees in Ottawa to then learn from and facilitate the integration of future refugee and immigrant populations. Second, to address the gap in knowledge within Canadian geographical literature regarding the relationship between place attachment/place making and the integration of refugees. Third, to challenge the federal government’s inadequate understanding of integration in favour of including policies that reflect refugees and immigrants’ more subtle cultural and social integration needs beyond the understanding of housing, employment, and knowledge of the official languages. The analysis of the data is based upon five factors of place attachment used to define integration. These are comfort, security, relationships, involvement, and rootedness. Results suggest that all of the research participants have self-identified as successfully integrated into Canadian society. Although each participant still faces many challenges and barriers on a regular basis, such as not finding employment in fields that they specialize in, a lack of foreign credential recognition and limited housing opportunities, they all showed a strong sense of feeling safe, of belonging and being involved in their community, have developed key relationships within and outside of their own cultural and ethnic group, have a strong understanding and knowledge of Ottawa and how to navigate the city, and have the desire to remain in Canada in hope that their children are given greater opportunities for success.
Unger-Basappa, Kiran VA, "Syrian Refugee Place Attachment and Place Making in Ottawa, ON" (2023). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 9484.