Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Ginette Lafrenière

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The pupose of this qualitative research project is to explore the experiences of immigrant women as they relate to their interactions with social service agencies, in an effort to understand how these women give meaning to their experiences and how those experiences impact their future behaviour. It is hoped that this study will provide an increased understanding of immigrant women’s interactions with service agencies for the benefit of social service providers aiming to apply a best practice approach in their service to newcomers.

This qualitative study consists of semi-structure interviews with 25 women representing 21 different countries. This research was carried out using a feminist lens and the data was analyzed using a thematic analysis. The findings of this study revealed that the knowledge of immigrant women’s journeys to Canada is significant as it is part of their reality and may contribute to feelings of vulnerability. In addition, it did not appear that ethno-specific agencies delivered more favorable services that ‘mainstream’ agencies. The participant’s perception of the quality of the service they received appeared to be based on the information conveyed through nonverbal behaviour, mode of communication and conduct. Feelings of hope, confidence and happiness emerged from the positive experiences while anger, shame and humiliation were reported as resulting from the negative experiences. The impact of these experiences had on immigrant women is noteworthy for social service practitioners. Suggestions for the improvement in the delivery of service are outlined since educating and training for service providers are recommended as part of a continual commitment to make social services a resource that immigrant women are willing to use and refer others to use.

Convocation Year


Included in

Social Work Commons