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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Forgotten need : exploring a sense of belonging with a local refugee community Lee, Angelina


This dissertation study explores a fundamental human need of belongingness, identified during the researcher’s immersion in a local refugee community in Vancouver, British Columbia. The purpose of this study was to collaboratively explore and understand the ways in which the community members conceptualized and experienced a sense of belonging in Canada. The use of a mixed qualitative methodology, Participatory Critical Incident Technique (PaCIT), and the Photovoice method engaged the community members as participant researchers (PRs) in processes of transformative social change and knowledge creation. To begin with, this community-university engagement research project involved two years of building relationships, developing research questions, and planning the research project with the community leaders and members. For data collection, analysis, and validation, over the course of one year, a team of 15 PRs and the primary researcher held research meetings to engage in group discussions about markers and indicators of a sense of belonging, factors and processes that facilitated or hindered the experiences of a sense of belonging in Canada, and reasons or goals for participating in the project. The final step involved planning for actions and dissemination of findings. A thematic and Enhanced CIT analysis of the data revealed six categories of Social Connection and Interaction, Helping Others, Cultural Identity and Values, Positive Mindset, Status and Rights, and English Language Proficiency. The outcomes of this study include PRs’ enhanced sense of belonging and agency, a publication of a Photovoice booklet to share their knowledge with a larger audience, and the formation of social circles for the community. Findings contribute to the emerging refugee literature as a doctoral dissertation grounded in community partnerships and provide a framework with specific examples to inform policies and practices that facilitate refugee settlement by addressing the fundamental human need to belong.

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