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Fostering Community: Opportunities & Constraints for Youth Participation in the Vancouver Vietnamese-Canadian Community

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Title: Fostering Community: Opportunities & Constraints for Youth Participation in the Vancouver Vietnamese-Canadian Community
Author: Gillman, Andrea
Issue Date: 2008-04-04
Abstract: Our cities are changing. Alterations and shifts in immigration policy have resulted in dramatic changes to the ethno-cultural makeup of our cities. In the late 1960’s 90% of immigrants came from Europe and the United States, today over half are arriving from Asia. The majority, are settling in just three metropolitan areas. Despite this data, planners, who have seen multiculturalism and immigration as falling outside their domain, still consider their work to be technical, and not cultural. This project examines the cultural side of planning. As the host society adapts to changes in the social geography of our cities, stereotypes and perceptions of different ethnic groups arise. Media attention has focused on youth gangs, crime and violence and created a perception of a high number of ‘at-risk’ youth in the Vietnamese-Canadian community. Within the context of this community, this project looks at how immigrant youth are faring in our city, investigating both the opportunities and barriers to participation. The methods used to obtain information were a literature review to examine the context of Vietnamese immigration and resettlement, as well as an in-depth review of literature on immigrant and newcomer youth integration. A focus group as well as an asset-based mapping workshop, were used to obtain information from a group of Vietnamese youth. The first wave of Vietnamese immigrants came to Vancouver in the late 1970’s. This community started off slowly but is now fairly well established, its members running well over 100 businesses, having several newspapers and magazines in print, and a wealth of organizations serving the community. However, this community has not been without problems, major concerns of the community include gang issues, safety, employment, family, education and health. In Vancouver more than 1 in 4 youth are born outside of Canada. These youth face enormous challenges not encountered by their Canadian born peers. They are more likely to live in poverty, leading to problems of mental health. They encounter problems coping with the Canadian school system, face greater barriers to employment, and suffer from communication barriers as non-native English speakers. The findings of this research show major opportunities for participation through the church, the Broadway Youth Resource Centre, community centres and neighbourhood houses, school and other (predominantly East Vancouver) locations. Youth participate where there is a youth friendly, inviting, environment. Participation provides youth with experience and volunteer hours needed for both graduation and future employment. There are major barriers preventing youth participation in both the Vietnamese Community and mainstream society. These relate primarily to the traditions and politics of their parents, perceptions of this community by others, and issues and influences facing today’s youth, among other limiting factors. Major recommendations directed at settlement service organizations and the Vietnamese community itself include: the formation of a youth leadership committee; a monthly column for youth in the Vietnamese paper; a youth report on Lac Viet Radio; increased programming for Vietnamese youth, supplemented with a survey of Vietnamese youth to determine program direction; the establishment of a community scholarship fund, and a mentorship program aimed at Vietnamese youth. Greater intergenerational programming, the creation of a dialogue on these issues on Lac Viet Radio, and the introduction of a youth initiated Vietnamese history project are recommended with the intent of fostering a greater understanding between the generations. Recommendations for the Vancouver school board focus on the work of the multicultural liaison worker, addressing the challenges of visible minority youth and newcomer youth, and greater education for the student body. Finally recommendations to the City of Vancouver address the need for youth to have a greater understanding of the city in which they are living.
Affiliation: Applied Science, Faculty ofCommunity and Regional Planning (SCARP), School of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/650
Peer Review Status: Unreviewed
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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