Welcome to Canada: Why are Family Emergency Shelters ‘Home’ for Recent Newcomers?

Although Canada is recognized internationally as a leader in immigration policy, supports are not responsive to the traumatic experiences of many newcomers. Many mothers and children arriving in Canada are at elevated risk of homelessness. (1) Methods: This study utilized a community-engaged design, grounded in a critical analysis of gender and immigration status. We conducted individual and group interviews with a purposive sample of 18 newcomer mothers with current or recent experiences with homelessness and with 16 service providers working in multiple sectors. (2) Results: Three main themes emerged: gendered and racialized pathways into homelessness; system failures, and pre- and post-migration trauma. This study revealed structural barriers rooted in preoccupation with economic success that negate and exacerbate the effects of violence and homelessness. (3) Conclusion: The impacts of structural discrimination and violence are embedded in federal policy. It is critical to posit gender and culturally appropriate alternatives that focus on system issues.

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