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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Beyond borders : perspectives from English-speaking Latin American immigrant women on their integration experiences in Kelowna and their transnational ties Bishop, Shani Eulandi


Immigrants continue to endure challenges when settling and integrating in mid-sized cities. In a city such as Kelowna with a homogeneous ‘white’ and ‘older’ population, settlement and integration for immigrants of ‘other’ ethnicities is a challenge. This study focuses on English-speaking immigrant women from Latin America: their integration experiences in Kelowna and their transnational relationships. In addition, coping mechanisms used by immigrant women to overcome integration challenges are examined. Data for this exploratory case study were obtained from semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. Interviews were done with 10 key informants (government employees, settlement workers, lawyers, journalists, community leaders, and religious leaders) and a questionnaire was completed by 33 immigrant women from Latin America living in the city of Kelowna, all of whom were English speaking with Spanish as their first language. Of these immigrant women, six were randomly selected for in-depth interviews regarding the challenges they have faced in the process of integrating in Kelowna and in maintaining transnational ties with their countries of origin. The results from this study revealed some of the challenges Latin American immigrant women face when settling and integrating in Kelowna. These challenges include accented language, transferring work experience, having academic credentials recognized, and finding affordable housing. While these women face integration challenges, they stressed the importance of transnational ties with their home countries. Recommendations were made to all levels of government to improve the few services offered to immigrants and/or to implement new services to better assist newly arrived immigrants to Kelowna.

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