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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of the social adjustment of Baltic newcomers in British Columbia and an evaluation of the methods and techniques used Foster, Helen Grace

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to discover what the newcomers from the Baltic countries consider to be some of the more important situations to which they have to adjust in becoming settled in Canada, their feelings and attitudes in this regard, and some of the ways in which the adjustment has been made. In this connection "newcomer" refers to displaced persons and refugees who arrived in Canada after World War II. In the course of this investigation various methods and techniques were tried. These included testing, the use of biograms, interviews, systematic field observations and a questionnaire. Sociometric methods, experiments and life histories were considered but not used due principally to the relatively small number of newcomers in the area under study and the need to maintain anonymity in order to establish rapport. These methods and techniques might be useful in studying the social adjustment of newcomers in larger areas having a larger newcomer population. Of the methods tried, interviews, systematic field observations and questionnaire replies proved most useful. No one method in itself was sufficient, but the combination seemed to yield adequate data for the study of the newcomers' problems. Interviews and field observations were carried out concurrently throughout the period of investigation. The questionnaire was used towards the end of the study, after rapport had been established, and was based on the data obtained through the use of interviews and field observations. It was administered to 62 newcomers from the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The replies were useful in determining the relative significance of problems which had been discovered through the use of the other methods. Some of the tension-situations to which the newcomers had to adjust arose out of difficulties encountered in understanding the Canadian culture and difficulties in connection with interpreting their own culture to Canadians. Since assimilation is a two-way process, the solving of the problem of interpreting their culture to Canadians encouraged the newcomers to endeavor to understand Canadian culture better. Out of 57 newcomers who replied to the question about wanting to interpret their culture to Canadians, 52 replied in the affirmative. However, when asked what opportunities they had, the replies were, "none", or "very little". Due to this study being made, the newcomers came to the attention of the Canadian Folk Society and were invited to take part in the Folk Festival, thus relieving in part the tension in this regard. Participation in the planning and program of the Festival resulted in greater interest, on the part of the newcomers, in Canadian citizenship. The two problems which seemed most formidable, however, were those arising out of the Russian occupation of their homeland, which resulted in the deportation of friends and relatives; and the separation of families due to the preference given to single adults under the Canadian immigration policy and its administration. Before any general conclusions can be drawn, however, concerning the social adjustment of the newcomers, it would be necessary to conduct the study on a much larger scale than that used in the present investigation. Further, it would be necessary to consider the viewpoint of Canadians as well as the newcomers before a final evaluation can be made.

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