World Refugee Day - 2nd generation immigrants and their dual cultural identities

Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2017

Jacky Chan

Clinical psychology student Jacky Chan focuses on how second generation immigrants negotiate their cultural identities inside and outside of their homes.

Area of research
Under the supervision of Professor Marta Young, Jacky Chan is conducting his PhD thesis on how second generation immigrants (those born in Canada to immigrant parents or who came to Canada as a young child) negotiate their cultural identities, both their ethnic as well as Canadian identities, inside and outside of their homes. In turn, how do their cultural identities impact their well-being, for example: do they have a satisfying relationship with parents, a sense of belonging to the community, etc.? 

Canada is built on multiculturalism. With the recent influx of refugees from Syria and other areas of the world, Jacky Chan hopes that his research results will be able to help immigrant and refugee families to improve communication around cultural expectations, which will in turn reduce acculturation-related conflicts between parents and their children. Furthermore, it will help develop a sense of belonging to the community, which is essential to a person's well-being.

His story
This subject speaks particularly to Jacky Chan, who arrived in Canada with his family from Hong Kong at a very young age. He experienced first-hand how difficult it was when family members were not seeing eye-to-eye because of differences in cultural identities. For example, his parents were holding on traditional cultural expectations while he and his brother wanted to be able to fit in with their Canadian peers. Today, the Chinese-Canadian says that his PhD research has actually allowed him to learn more about himself.

Contribution to society
It is Jacky’s hope that his research will play a meaningful role in assisting recently arrived immigrants and refugees in adapting to the Canadian society. His findings can help develop community programming for new Canadians to strengthen family relationships and to develop a strong sense of community. Lastly, Jacky hopes that his research will also have a direct impact on mainstream Canadians to create an increased awareness of some of the challenges faced by immigrants and refugees. A greater sense of empathy might reduce xenophobia and discrimination, and encourage Canadians support newly arrived neighbours, colleagues, and friends.

View additional student research on issues pertaining to refugees.

The University of Ottawa launch a program to helps refugees

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