February 26, 2016 9:27 pm
Updated: February 26, 2016 10:20 pm

UBCO research highlights struggles faced by new immigrants

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KELOWNA – Kelowna residents Joven and Daisy Dutert immigrated to Canada two and a half years ago with post-secondary degrees.

Originally from the Philippines, the couple could only secure jobs at McDonalds before moving to Canada.

Recent research lead by Associate Professor of Social Work, Dr. Shirley Chau, shows new immigrants to Kelowna feel underemployed and struggle to achieve a sense of belonging.

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“We have lawyers coming, we have physicians, we have nurses, teachers, they come with high hopes into Canada but then once they get here, they’re either unemployed or underemployed,” says Chau.

Chau says she used a research method called the photo-voice method for the UBCO-led study of resettlement. The 30 participants in Kelowna were given cameras and asked to take pictures of experiences providing a glimpse into their social cultural world.

“When we are shown pictures of the participants, we ask them why did you take this picture, what’s the story behind it, what do you want us to know?” says Chau.

Chau says recent immigrants said that integration into their new community has been harder than they thought.

“We are definitely getting a larger number of immigrants and newcomers coming to our community so I could see that the numbers would increase just based on the fact that we have more diversity in the community that we have seen,” says Katelin, Mitchell with Kelowna Community Resources (KCR).

Mitchell says KCR helps about 1,000 immigrants in Kelowna with settlement services every year.

Chau’s research is displayed at the Alternator Gallery inside the Rotary Centre for the Arts.

“All I’m hoping to do with this research is bring people together and bring community closer together so we have less distance,” says Chau.

Meanwhile, still facing some challenges, working two jobs, Joven hopes to put his Bachelor of Science degree to use one day.

“I’m applying now for a care aid but I’m still waiting for my residency,” he says.

The Duterts say they’re grateful they were able to find a job, housing and three months ago, welcome a baby girl they can both support.

“For us it was a smooth process, we hear for other people they really struggle so we are thankful,” says Dutert.

The study, funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, took place in three Canadian cities including Brandon, Manitoba, Red Deer, Alberta and Kelowna.

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