Family Journey: A New Settlement Resource for Families

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By Aruna Papp

From the start, the concept of this magazine has been to provide information to new Canadians and assist them to quickly become fully functioning and proud members of the community. The publication was built on the premise that there was a gap in the information sharing process. Over the past eight years, it has built a large and enthusiastic audience of regular readers – tens of thousands of newcomers, and professionals working with newcomers. It achieved national publication before its publisher decided that the digital format best served the purpose of providing vital information to online readers all over the world.

I am delighted to contribute a regular new column for Canadian Newcomer focusing on the challenges families face during their settlement period. Under the heading “Your Family Journey” the new column will be educational, informative, and will provide helpful resources. Today, there is much more research on the struggles faced by families due to immigration, which can result in family breakdown, cause mental illness, and impact physical health.

Some people settle in quickly, but for others it can be taxing, and the stress can impact the family in negative ways. The stress of finding stability can be felt by families here in Canada and among those left behind.

For the first few years after immigration we have to focus on housing, employment, and meeting the day to day needs of the family. This may leave us little time to pay attention to the changing dynamics in the family. For reasons beyond our control, there can be conflict in the family, or the designated roles can upset the balance within the family. For example, the father may not be able to financially support the family as in the past, and other family members may have to help. The father might find this humiliating. Mother may have a job which does not give her time to prepare meals the family is accustomed too. She may be filled with guilt, making her feel she is not a good mother. Children, on the other hand, are like sponges. They pick up new information from television, school and their peers, making the parents feel disadvantaged, manipulated or lied to at times. There may also be miscommunication.

When I arrived in Canada, I had preconceived ideas of what life was going to be like for me in this new country. I wish, at that time, I’d had access to a magazine like this. It would have saved a lot of time and heart aches. Since then, many resources have been developed by various governments and by non-profit agencies. However, no matter how well intentioned and helpful these efforts are, if the people in need do not know how to locate them then they are of no help.

Now that you know where to find me, please let me know what would be most helpful for you and your family during the settlement period. Send me your suggestions, experiences and sources of information which will be helpful to others, at Aruna@CNMag.ca.

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