Many women immigrate with the hope that they will gain new opportunities for themselves and their families, however, they often face significant challenges due to the intersectional stigmas related to their gender, immigration status, and other aspects of their social location. In this study, we sought to understand the holistic experience of racialized newcomer women to better support their integration process. Using Arts-Based Engagement Ethnography (ABEE), we employed the use of cultural probes and qualitative interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of the experience of ten newcomer women. An ethnographic analysis of this data yielded four overarching structures which include (1) identity negotiation experiences, (2) process of integration and struggles with transition, (3) resiliency practices and processes, and (4) making meaning of migration experiences. Each of these structures included several patterns. Our results demonstrate the benefits of using arts-based qualitative methods with diverse communities to collect rich and varied data that highlights the multiple social identities of participants. These results also give an in-depth look at the numerous experiences, both positive and negative, that influence the well-being of newcomer women throughout the process of migration. The implications of this research emphasize the need to continue in our efforts to reduce systemic oppression, to create a more inclusive and equitable community.


arts-based engagement ethnography (ABBE), newcomer women, immigration, social justice

Author Bio(s)

Danielle Smith has an M.Sc. and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in counselling psychology at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on the experiences of newcomer youth and their families.

Amy Green has a Ph.D. in counselling psychology from the University of Calgary. Her clinical and research interests focus on women's mental health, particularly in the areas of embodiment, migration, and holistic wellbeing.

Sarah Nutter is an assistant professor of counselling psychology at the University of Victoria. Her research centres on weight stigma and weight-related issues, with interests in better understanding the nature of weight stigma, its relationship to body image and eating issues, and its impact on healthcare.

Anusha Kassan, Ph.D., R.Psych., is an associate professor with a high-impact position in child and youth mental health in the school and applied child psychology program at the University of British Columbia. Her program of research is influenced by her own bicultural identity and is informed by a social justice lens. She is presently studying the impact of immigration across different communities. She is also conducting teaching and learning research, investigating multicultural and social justice competencies in professional psychology. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7614-9034

Monica is a social constructionist-oriented family therapist, educator, supervisor, and researcher. She works at the Eastside Community Mental Health Services and the Calgary Family Therapy Centre as a therapist and supervisor. Monica is the Academic Coordinator of the Couple and Family Therapy Program at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. Her current research interest focuses on relational and systemic work with immigrants, refugees, and newcomers. She is involved in the Calgary Impossible Cases Project.

Nancy Arthur is a Professor Emeritus and former Canada Research Chair in professional education at the University of Calgary, currently appointed as Dean Research for UniSA Business, University of South Australia. Nancy’s program of research focuses on diversity and social justice in professional practice and the career development of international students and workers. Her current research includes refugee and migrant youth transitions, funded by the Australian Research Council. Prof. Arthur is a Registered Psychologist (AB Canada) and elected Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association.

Shelly Russell-Mayhew is a professor of counselling psychology in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on weight stigma and weight-related issues, building healthy school communities, and school-based wellness intervention.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Danielle J. Smith, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, 2750 University Way N.W, Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 1N4. Email: danielle.smith3@ucalgary.ca


Most of this work was developed at the University of Calgary and was supported by funding through the Werklund School of Education Office of Research: Collaborative Research Team Grant and Powerful New Ideas in Education Grant.

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