What does the settlement and integration process involve? What does it represent for the resident?
Eva: “Even if we are saying settlement, we should say resettlement because the residents we welcome have quit their own country to resettle in Canada, there is a notion of forced displacement that is crucial. We offer support for administrative tasks, like opening a bank account, registering the kids to school or looking for an apartment and helping them move. When we talk about integration, we are referring more to the social and cultural aspects that involve learning the language (French classes) but also how the Quebec system works (access to health services, navigate to the scholar system, looking for employment, etc.)”.
What are the realities of the newcomers? In general, how much time will they stay to the Foyer du Monde before moving out?
Eva: “On average, the residents spend a year at the residence. For the majority, it is the necessary time to learn the language, regularize their immigration status, find a job and an apartment, sign up the kids to school and find a daycare that is not too expensive, since asylum seekers are not eligible for subsidized day care places”.
How does your team support the residents of the Foyer on a daily basis?
Eva: “By guiding them in the administrative processes that are specific to resettlement, by supporting them in their immigration process, by accompanying them as they learn to get around Montreal, to communicate in French or to use the available community resources, by offering psychosocial support and by organizing sociocultural activities during the week and weekends”.
How is dance therapy integrated to the support plan for the residents?
Eva: “Dance therapy is part of a project whose goal is to empower the parents and to support the overall development of the children through various mediums. The weekly dance therapy classes provide a break to the parents while offering to the children to listen to their bodies, emotions and to become aware of connection between them”.
How do you structure the sessions? What are the themes that you have developed with the different small groups of children?
Gelymar: “The sessions are structured to meet the needs of the children and to promote an environment that allows them to have fun in a safe space (psychologically and physically) and to build relationships between them and with the dance therapist. Throughout the sessions, we have explored body awareness, rhythmic awareness, leadership skills but also the capacity to follow a leader, emotional and behavioural regulation, creativity and the expression of needs. These various themes are explored through creative games involving body and mind”.
Have you faced any inclusion issues?
Gelymar: “Not all participants understand French. During the sessions, I show an interest for the mother tongue of the children. I lead the sessions in three languages (French, English, Spanish). For those who speak languages that I do not know (for example, Turkish), I ask them to teach me words related to the activities of the session. Thus, I show to value and appreciate the mother tongue of the participants, facilitating their integration and communicating to them that their culture and origins are welcomed to the dance therapy sessions”.
Which impacts have you observed on the children and their families?
Gelymar: “Each child has unique strengths and challenges. The sessions are adapted to their needs to highlight their strengths and support them in overcoming their challenges, while having fun together. The children are very receptive and progress well through each individual and group therapeutic goals. Overall, I notice that children acquire self-regulation strategies (for example moving quickly with large movements to expend energy; doing a breathing exercise to relax; naming their emotions, needs and limits to be understood, supported and respected) and that they develop interpersonal skills that support their interactions with other children and adults”.