UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Canadian outdoors from the perspective of recent immigrants in Metro Vancouver : nature nurtures newcomers Ono, Aspen Joy


People are increasingly alienated from nature, which can reduce human well-being, pro-environmental behavior, and emotional connection to the natural world (Soga & Gaston, 2016). In an era marked by climate change and ecological collapse, understanding, reinforcing, and facilitating socioecological interactions can support and advance human and environmental well-being. Such a transition requires widespread individual and collective buy-in and action for transformative structural change. Despite this need for widespread environmental protection, immigrants have historically been excluded from natural spaces and from the project of environmental sustainability (Kloek et al., 2015; Kloek et al., 2013). To promote pro-environmental behavior and support the well-being of Metro Vancouver’s immigrant population, it is essential to analyze this population’s relationships to nature, particularly in Canada. Lived experiences, sociocultural norms, and familiarity with nature affect an individual’s relationship to and value of nature and a particular natural space (Chan et al., 2016). Research demonstrates that immigrants from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds display unique use patterns and relationships to their host country’s natural spaces (Jay & Schraml 2009; Kloek et al., 2013; Rishbeth & Finney, 2006). Understanding immigrants’ values of and interactions with outdoor spaces requires identifying the meanings, benefits, and capabilities that arise from their socio-ecological interactions. This research aimed to characterize the relationship that some recent immigrants to Metro Vancouver had to the area’s natural spaces. Using 27 qualitative semi-structured interviews and oral background surveys, this study aimed to consider the ways in which recent immigrants used, perceived, and derived value from their relationships with nature in Canada. Respondents emphasized that nature supported a unique set of ecosystem services that facilitated their acculturation, adaptation, and socialization into Canada and Canadian society. These perceived benefits suggest that acculturation may be a new category of cultural ecosystem services that newcomers derive from interactions with their host country’s nature. This research is an initial step towards understanding the web of values and services that immigrant stakeholders have with nature in Metro Vancouver. Such an understanding can facilitate a more inclusive and representative approach to social-ecological system management.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International