Impacts of the 2013 Flood on Immigrant Children, Youth, and Families in Alberta, Canada

Julie Drolet, Caroline McDonald-Harker, Nasreen Lalani, Julia Tran


The 2013 flood resulted in devastating impacts for immigrant children, youth, and families in Alberta, Canada. This article presents the findings of the Alberta Resilient Communities (ARC) Project, a collaborative research initiative that aimed to better understand the social, economic, health, cultural, spiritual, and personal factors that contribute to resiliency among children and youth. The study findings indicate that immigrant children and youth resilience is tied to four main themes: 1) Constructive parental responses; 2) Effective school support; 3) Active involvement in/with community; and 4) Connections between disasters and the environment. Community influencer participants revealed flood recovery challenges experienced by immigrant families that affected their settlement and integration at the community level. Major themes include: (1) Loss of documentation; (2) Provision of temporary housing and accommodation; and (3) Rethinking diversity in disaster management. The study findings demonstrate that immigrants faced significant socio-economic impacts, trauma, job loss, and housing instability as a result of the flood and its aftermath. Challenges such as limited social ties within and beyond the immigrant community, limited official language fluency, and immigration status contributed to their vulnerability. Immigrant children and youth with positive support from their immigrant parents were found to be more resilient, integrated, and engaged in the community. Recommendations for disaster and emergency management agencies to address diversity factors such as immigration status, language, age, and culture that shape long-term disaster recovery experience are provided. Schools, immigrant parents, and community connections were found to play a key role in fostering immigrant child and youth resilience post-disaster.

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