Uprooted and Displaced: A Critical Narrative Study of Homeless, Aboriginal, and Newcomer Girls in Canada
Issues in Mental Health Nursing
Uprooting and displacement are a common part of everyday life for millions of girls and young women throughout the world. While much of the discourse has centered on movement from one country to another, uprooting and displacement are also a reality for many within Canada. Notably, a growing population of homeless girls and Aboriginal girls also have experienced uprooting and dislocation from home, community, and in some cases, family. For many of these girls, multiple forms of individual and systemic violence are central features of their lives. The primary purpose of this critical narrative study is to examine how uprooting and displacement have shaped mental health among three groups: (1) newcomers to Canada (immigrant and refugee girls); (2) homeless girls; and (3) Aboriginal girls. In-depth narrative interviews were conducted with 19 girls in Southwestern Ontario. Narrative themes revealed that although there is much diversity within and between these groups, uprooting and displacement create social boundaries and profound experiences of disconnections in relationships. Barriers to re/establishing connections generate dangerous spaces within interlocking systems of oppression. However, in negotiating new spaces, there is the potential for the forming and re-forming of alliances where sources of support hold the promise of hope. It is within these spaces of hope and pathways of engagement where connections offer a renewed sense of belonging and well-being. The findings highlight the relevance of the construct of uprootedness in girls' lives, provide beginning directions for the design of gender-specific and culturally meaningful interventions, and comprise a substantial contribution to the growing body of research related to girls and young women.