Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Department

Social Work

Supervisor

Mirna Carranza

Co-Supervisor

Sheila Sammon

Language

English

Committee Member

Sheila Sammon

Abstract

ABSTRACT

This thesis explores the re-settlement process of Latin American immigrants and refugees in the Waterloo region. This qualitative research project was designed to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived realities of participants. General questions about their re-settlement process, and more specifically about the barriers faced by members of the Latin American community were asked. Participants identified and constructed meaningful resolutions to meeting their “needs” and overcoming barriers.

The findings are based on eleven individual, three conjoint interviews and two focus groups, with men and women of Latin American origin. Open and axial coding was utilized to explore emergent themes. These themes were introduced in subsequent interviews to thicken the data and acquire cross-gendered perspectives. By using a symbolic interactionist and sociological phenomenological framework, I attempt to understand the interplay between the individual consciousnesses of Latin Americans living in the Waterloo Region and the meanings created of their lived realities and social worlds. To obtain this understanding, I have chosen to use elements of grounded theory to discover the interrelatedness of the concepts, categories, and properties that emerged in the data (Borgatti, 2005).

What was evident though out the data was a strong sense of ethnic identity, pride and strength within the Latin American community. Participants consistently identified a sense of agency and a desire to promote and nurture the Latin American community based upon shared elements of culture, including but not limited to, the Spanish language.

Other predominant themes that emerged in the data were: experiences of systemic racism, cultural shifts and barriers to accessing re-settlement services. The findings of this research serve to disrupt notions of the current political discourse surrounding the neutrality of multiculturalism, provide new perspectives on the re-negotiation of culture that occurs during re-settlement and finally, to provide insights into service use by Latin Americans

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