Profs publish research on refugee education

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This article was published 29/01/2018 (1766 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

University of Winnipeg professors are hoping to give Canadian educators more tools when it comes to connecting with newcomer youth.

Dr. Jan Stewart and Dr. Lorna Martin have published Bridging Two Worlds: Supporting Newcomer and Refugee Youth, which is the culmination of three years of research around Canada. Stewart and Martin both have a background in education, and they have done work in the past looking at the barriers that newcomers and refugees face in the Canadian education system.

Now, they’re using their knowledge to help educators work through those challenges.

Supplied photo Dr. Lorna Martin is one of two authors on a recently published book that aims to help educators connect with newcomers.

“We went to smaller cities which included St. Johns, N.L., Calgary, Alta., Winnipeg, of course, and then P.E.I., so we started doing interviews in those four provinces to try to get a sense of what’s working across the country and how do we sort of increase or build on what already is existing that seems to be working,” Stewart said.

“One of the things I realized with working in small cities is you begin to see the absolute essential come to life much more quickly, because people have to collaborate in a way that larger cities may not have to, because of increased resources,” Martin added.

“You see the key elements that are required and people are more willing and open to conversation because sometimes there are only five or six newcomers in a community rather than 106, and because of that you see those incredible needs that are required for success.”

The pair says that the biggest obstacle that most newcomers face is a language barrier.

“We know what to do when someone has English as a second language or French as a second language,” Stewart said. “We know, though, that typically the people coming in from war-affected areas may have interrupted schooling which makes education in their own language limited and makes the process more limited.”

However, Stewart and Martin say they have found more similarities than differences between students of different backgrounds. Children fleeing their country for safety reasons have experienced trauma, but so have those dealing with domestic violence, abuse and gang involvement.

“Trauma is trauma,” Stewart said. “The human response to trauma is the same around the world.”

Alana Trachenko Dr. Jan Stewart of the University of Winnipeg is co-author of Bridging Two Worlds: Supporting Newcomer and Refugee Youth.

It’s vital that educators find a way to engage newcomer students early on, she added.

“When the barriers and obstacles are too great, students either drop out or are sent out of the system, and it doesn’t take long for those children or youth to become part of marginalized groups, such as gangs, sub cultures,” Stewart said. “We have a big challenge.”

A book launch will take place at the University of Winnipeg in the Convocation Hall (515 Portage Ave.) on Feb. 15 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. where copies of the book will be available for free. They can also be found online at

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