Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Despite the growing numbers of refugee families settling in Canada, there is little or no documentation on how to support the healing process of refugee children. The purpose of this study was to learn about planning and developing school-based community supports for these children by examining and documenting several school-based community initiatives in Kitchener-Waterloo. Data collected included three focus group interviews, seven key informant interviews, a document review, and a research process journal. Findings were organized around motivation, guiding values and principles, resources, processes, actions, partnerships, dynamics, and sustainability. Shared values and principles emerged as the passion and the glue that drove and cemented the change process. Human resources, particularly English as a Second Language teachers, were essential players in supporting refugee children. Schools were revealed as ideal settings within which to promote competence, foster respect for diversity, and buffer these children from the negative consequences of war, refugeeism, and settlement. Creating a sense of safety and belonging in the school and in the community was seen as the most crucial element in the healing process of refugee children. A universal approach was favoured since it avoided further stigmatizing and revictimizing refugee children, and benefited all children struggling with issues of diversity. A framework based on support, outreach, education, and advocacy was proposed. A major conclusion of the research was that collective trauma such as war and refugeeism demands a collective, community-based response.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season