UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Growing up in Canada : youth ethnic identity and Canadian identity Darwich, Lina


The present study examined early (grades 6-7) and middle adolescents’ (grades 8-9) sense of belonging to school and to Canada. Belonging entails feelings of connectedness to our families, friends, schools, communities, and nations. Several studies have investigated adolescents’ sense of belonging to school but few have examined whether youths’ belonging to school varied as a function of ethnicity, time lived in Canada, ethnic discrimination, and ethnic identity. Moreover, early and middle adolescents’ belonging to Canada has never been studied. Thus, the primary objective of the present study was to examine the role of youths’ 1) time in Canada, 2) ethnicity, 3) their experiences with peer ethnic discrimination at school and 4) ethnic identity in explaining their sense of belonging to school and to Canada, respectively. The secondary objective of this study was to examine two distinct dimensions of ethnic identity – private regard and public regard – within a Canadian context. Early and middle adolescents enrolled in schools in Vancouver lower mainland participated in the present study. The first group included 158 students in grades 6 and 7 and the second group included 340 students in grades 8 and 9. Students in grades 6-7 were interviewed individually. Students in grades 8-9 were asked to complete a paper-and-pencil survey during a single group testing session. Results showed that discrimination was linked to both private and public regard. Additionally, for middle adolescents, the link between discrimination and public regard varied as a function of ethnicity. Years lived in Canada was linked to belonging to Canada, with students who have lived in Canada for six years or less reporting lower levels of belonging than their peers who have lived in Canada all their life. Higher levels of ethnic discrimination were associated with lower levels of school belonging but not lower levels of Canadian belonging. As hypothesized, positive levels of private and public regard were associated with their sense of belonging to school and to Canada. Importantly, years lived in Canada significantly moderated the link between ethnic regard and belonging. The present study demonstrated the complexity of studying ethnic regard and Canadian belonging during adolescence.

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