Refugee&Newcomer Women's Emotional Un-wellness as a Barrier to Economic Integration Conference

Cesar Suva's picture
Call for Papers
January 29, 2020 to January 30, 2020
Alberta, Canada
Subject Fields: 
Ethnic History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Public Policy, Social Work, Women's & Gender History / Studies

As Canada continues to welcome growing numbers of immigrants and refugees, settlement agencies have embraced the challenge of successfully integrating the newly arrived. Community-based settlement programming in language, employment skills, guidance and support, has emerged over the past decade based on the understanding that social support should function not only as a ‘safety net’ for new immigrants, but also as a ‘springboard’ to the broader aims of integration (Simich, Beiser, Stewart, & Mwakarimba, 2005). While immigrants face multiple barriers to integration into Canadian society, these various challenges often center on communication and economic integration (Ibid).  Newcomers are more likely to suffer from poverty, underemployment, downward mobility, poor housing, limited or lack of access to services as well as discrimination (Ibid)

Women new to Calgary often find themselves preoccupied with immediate settlement concerns for several years after arriving, increasing their chances of economic isolation in the form of unemployment, underemployment and dependence on other family members. This is particularly acute for women who care for either a child or an adult in their family.  Many of these women hesitate in approaching settlement related services for various real and perceived reasons, such as fear for the loss of their immigration status (Oxman-Martinez et al., 2005) or of financial liability for themselves or their family-class sponsors (Neufeld et al., 2002).  Sometimes cultural beliefs such as the reluctance to share personal problems with strangers can restrict access to support services for many newcomer women, and the prospect of having to express themselves in English to professionals is difficult to overcome (Neufeld et al., 2002).  This creates precarity in newcomer women’s immediate economic security, as those who hesitate in accessing various available services often resort to caring for their loved ones on their own, forgoing opportunities for employment or study, which in turn has a direct impact on the ultimate success of their integration into Calgary.

The burdens of settlement and change can be especially significant for newcomer women, with tolls inflicted on their mental and emotional wellness. This can in turn have a lasting effect on their families and future generations of new Canadians.  This conference, funded by a Status of Women Alberta Community Grant, seeks to explore, through the contribution of academics, practitioners, students, researchers, policymakers, newcomers and refugees, the issues, surrounding factors and impacts of the emotional wellness of newcomer women on the settlement process.


  • Personal well-being
    1. Newcomer women’s confidence and overall sense of well-being
    2. The emotional barriers to language learning, employment training and integration
    3. Fear in navigating systems
    4. Confidence, coping strategies and impacts of negative stress
  • Family
    1. Domestic/family violence
    2. Role as a mother: as a motivator and a stressor
    3. Marriage migration
    4. Emotional un-wellness in newcomer women – factors and impacts
    5. The economic impact of women’s emotional wellness on the family
    6. Managing large families
  • Access to Community and Work
    1. Community support to women newcomer in the work place
    2. Workplaces and sensitivity / insensivity to newcomer women’s experience of integration
    3. Balancing work, family and integration
  • Systems
    1. Systemic barriers for Newcomer women
    2. Poverty
    3. Community and agency support that supplement more ‘institutional’ resources such as clinics, hospitals and other formal health practitioners
    4. Healthcare and gender appropriate healthcare providers
    5. Trauma informed care
    6. Systems level approaches to address ‘economic isolation’

Submission Instructions

  • Please send a 300-word individual abstract
  • Or 300-word panel abstracts of maximum 4 presentations/papers

Instructions for Panels

Groups of presenters may organize themselves into panels. In this case, please submit both a panel abstract, as well as abstracts for each participant panelist. All abstracts should be limited to 300 words in length.

All abstracts, including individual and panel abstracts must be submitted by July 31, 2019 to:

Submissions across disciplines are welcome. Abstracts from graduate and post-graduate students are especially welcome.

Notifications of acceptance will be sent by August 15, 2019.

Conference proceedings and select papers may be published in a special issue of a respected academic journal.

Please visit the conference website for more information:


Contact Info: 

Cesar Suva, Ph.D
The Calgary Immigrant Educational Society

Calgary, Canada

Katerina Palova, MA
The Calgary Immigrant Educational Society

Calgary, Canada

Stacy Lee Lockerbie, Ph.D
The University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing

Calgary, Canada