Newcomers, Creative Spaces, and Connection Through Art

Leah Lewis, Heather McLeod, Xuemei Li, Haley Toll

Abstract


Historically, the island of Newfoundland has had  a culturally homogeneous population. For this reason, newcomers report a distressing insider/outsider dynamic of disconnect and challenges accessing local social support systems (Anderson, 2012; Baker, Price, & Walsh, 2015; El-Bialy & Mulay, 2016; Li, Doyle, Lymburner, & Ghadi, 2016). This is disconcerting, as a scoping review conducted by Guruge and Butt (2015) found that post-migration experiences of discrimination and othering are as important as traumatic pre-migration experiences in determining mental health variance in newcomers. Indeed, moving to a new country is challenging in itself, beyond experiencing loss of the familiar, culture shock, and discrimination. Cultural bereavement, defined as experiencing the “loss of identity, culture, home, familiar surroundings, and loss of family and friends” (Ishafani, 2008, p. 79), may negatively impact an individual’s wellbeing. However, it is important to emphasize the resiliency of newcomers when relocating to a new country and not stereotype refugees as “helpless victims that need to be studied, uplifted, and cured” (Guruge, Hynie, Shakya, Akbari, Htoo, & Abiyo, 2015, para. 1)

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