Ongoing and protracted conflicts around the world have led to annual increases in the number of people living as refugees, a situation only worsened by anti-immigration policies across the West. Increasingly, Winnipeg, Manitoba, is home to many of these refugees. Refugees face multiple challenges integrating into their new environments, but these challenges can be particularly difficult for youth. When positive support mechanisms are insufficient and if basic human needs are not met, young refugees are at risk for involvement in criminal and gang activity.
Using qualitative research methodology, Matthew Fast explored the perceptions, challenges and experiences of war-affected refugee youth who became gang involved after settling in Winnipeg. Fast argues that in order to assist young refugees in their successful transition into a foreign culture and society, it is essential to understand how their perceptions and experiences inform their identity and behaviour. Such an understanding must inform policy and future approaches by government and community-based organizations to assist refugees in their transition.
About the Author:
Matthew Fast works on behalf of refugee youth in Winnipeg as the mentorship/outreach program manager at the Newcomers Employment and Educational Development Services. Matt has worked locally and internationally on behalf of war- affected youth and families since 2004.