Banting Research


Per Course Instructor

Memorial University

The goal of my Banting post-doctoral research entitled – An Examination of Racial Microaggressions among Refugee Youth in Two Canadian Cities – is to assess the prevalence and effects of racial microaggressions among a community-based sample of young refugees aged 14-25 who have resettled in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and Hamilton, Ontario. First coined in 1970, racial microaggressions are brief, daily, verbal or non-verbal exchanges that communicate negative views, ideas, or beliefs to people of colour because they belong to a racial minority group (Houshman et al 2014; Solórzano et al 2000; Sue et al 2007; Sue 2003; Pierce et al 1978).

Indeed, there is value in examining racial microaggressions within these two diverse cities. In comparison to St. John’s, which receives relatively few refugees, Hamilton, as a significant refugee receiving city, may provide these youth with more formal and informal networks to mediate, make sense of, and manage micro-aggressions. Hence, I am interested in comparing young refugees’ experiences in these two cities in order to explore the way that local contexts shape the experiences of, and responses to, racism.  The specific questions to be explored in this proposed research are: How do young refugees understand the term racism? What are the nature of racial microaggressions as experienced by these refugees in St. John’s and Hamilton? How do these victims of racial microaggressions respond to, and cope with, these perceived incidents? Are there differences in the types of racial microaggressions experienced by refugee youth in these two cities? How do these youth understand the connection between microaggressions and their health/mental health?

My research will not only allow for an in-depth understanding of racial microaggressions in two differently sized refugee receiving cities but also allow for comparisons to be drawn from my earlier work (Baker 2013) on racism in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Other key objectives include knowledge translation to help inform policy and program development at the governmental and non-profit level, extending the body of research in this emerging area (especially from a sociological perspective), and building a data set for future research conducted in other parts of Canada or in other refugee receiving states such as the United States, Great Britain, and/or Australia. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to help inform the development of programs and services aimed at supporting the inclusion and integration of refugee youth as well as to challenge public sentiments that in their consequence, if not in their intent, support the negative characterization of refugees.