Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Kenneth Banks

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Second Advisor

Anne Westhues

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Third Advisor

Juanne Clark

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member


This thesis tracks the process of changed meanings. My research tells the fictitious story of a Somali woman named mary. She has been in Canada for less than five years, and she moved to the Kitchener-Waterloo area, almost immediately. The narrative tells of her transition and the issues she had to handle. Female circumcision is the central issue in the story. mary's thought process as she moves from a country that supports female circumcision to a country that calls this practice female genital mutilation has to change if she decides not to circumcise her daughter. This Canadian story should guide other women through this process of transition. It should also help Canadian Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Workers comprehend the issues Somali women, and all women who have this cultural practice experience. The story values the perspectives of women who have had to confront FGM. They encountered it in childhood in one context, and now have to manage this issue again as mothers in a different context. Their decisions will affect their daughters' lives in their new environment. How does mary handle situations? What feelings unfold within her? What coping strategies are formulated? These answers emerge when a composite of individual experiences create this fictitious narrative, which reflects an accurate Canadian-Somali story. This story was gleaned in a manner that was respectful and dignified and it provides us with an understanding of what occurs when the definition of female circumcision changes its meaning.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season