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The settlement and integration experiences of recent Iranian immigrants in the suburbs of Vancouver : Surrey, Burnaby, and Coquitlam Ahadi, Nasibeh


Canada is known as a country of immigrants, who are considered crucial to Canada’s capacity to address its workforce needs and reach its population and economic growth targets. Over the last three decades, immigrants to Canada have been creating new patterns of migration by settling on the periphery of major Canadian cities. While the number of Iranian immigrants residing in the suburbs has been rapidly increasing over the last two decades, little research has been conducted on their settlement and integration experiences. This research study explores the settlement and integration experiences of recent Iranian immigrants who reside in suburban Vancouver. It also investigates the barriers and challenges these recent immigrants face during their integration into the new society and the coping strategies they develop to deal with these barriers. The availability and cultural appropriateness of existing settlement services are also explored. A questionnaire-based survey was conducted to explore the settlement and the integration experiences of 127 recent Iranian immigrants living in the suburbs of Vancouver (37 from Surrey, 43 from Burnaby, and 47 from Coquitlam). Despite the evident similarities between the three study groups, research findings showed that they are also distinctly different in many ways. These differences suggest that, despite coming from the same ethnic background and country of origin, the settlement stories and experiences of these immigrants are not necessarily the same. These differences need to be recognized when drawing conclusions, either in the scholarly literature or in the process of settlement-service planning. Most of the recent Iranian immigrants in this study lacked sufficient information on housing and housing services upon arrival in Canada. They also shared their frustration with a lack of language and employment services in the suburbs where they lived. As a result, most relied on their informal resources and connections when searching for a job. Discrimination is another barrier that immigrants frequently encounter during the settlement and integration process. Each sample reported experiencing a form of discrimination unique to their suburb. As such, when planning settlement services and programs, failure to address one aspect would likely impact other aspects of immigrants’ experiences.

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