Syrian Refugee Youth Finding their ways through Canadian Public Schooling: The Daily Challenges and the Possible Opportunities
Presentation: Neila Miled
Session E | 11:05 – 11:45 | Location: Room 1004
Since the victory of the Liberal party in late 2015, Canada has received thousands of Syrian refugees, most of them young and having large families. Most of their kids are school aged children and they had to enter an educational system that hasn’t been prepared to that encounter, particularly in British Columbia schools. This presentation emerges from a study that explores how a group of Syrian refugees in a high school reflect on their school experiences and how these experiences are impacting their identities and sense of belonging. The paper questions the impact of multiculturalism discourses on these young men and women experiences, presents a synopsis of the daily challenges emerging from an Eurocentric educational system, the parents’ blurry understanding of the educational system and the deficit dominant discourses around refugees. This paper presents the voices of these youth and how they perceive the role of education in moving them from being a “burden” on Canadian tax payers, cultural aliens and Muslim threat to contributing “citizens” and true Canadians.
The study is based on a school ethnography that captures the multiple facets of being young, Muslim, and refugee in the western province of Canada, however the youth narratives and experiences and the systemic barriers might be similar to other parts of Canada.