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Acculturation experience of first generation Muslim immigrant women in a Canadian prairie city



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This thesis explores first generation Muslim immigrant women’s acculturation experiences and strategies from a religious, cultural and gender perspective. It aims to increase our understanding of the diverse and confounding roles and expectations of their heritage culture and host Canadian culture. Qualitative interviews with eight married with children, English-speaking Muslim immigrant women who have lived in Canada for at least three years explored: (a) their overall experiences living in a Canadian Prairie city; (b) their experience transitioning from their role in the family in a traditional non-Western culture to their role in the family in an egalitarian Canadian culture; and (c) factors that hinder and facilitate their adaptation in Canada. Findings demonstrated that although women’s acculturation experiences and strategies are unique and dynamic, all women expressed the interconnectivity and significance of God, community and family in their lives. Women’s personal experiences and goals related to work, family, and community influence how and to what degree they negotiate and reconcile the diverse and confounding roles and expectations of their heritage and Canadian cultures. Their acculturation experiences are constantly evolving, and their adaptation in Canada is largely influenced by their daily experiences, including the supports they have and do not have both at home and in their local heritage and host communities. Women also face the central challenge of raising their children in a culture that promotes a set of values that compromises the transmission of their own core religious/cultural values. Thus, they employ strategies such as conscientiously modeling devotion to Islam through practice and teaching, restricting their children’s personal freedom and independence, and monitoring and limiting their children’s Canadian friendships, while increasing contact with their local heritage community. This research contributes to cross-cultural inquiry via a cultural comparison that established cultural aspects of women’s traditional heritage cultures, which was subsequently compared to Canadian culture as a tool for gauging cultural discrepancies. Future research may explore the whole family unit through a longitudinal lens to facilitate both the adaptation and integration of immigrants from collectivistic cultures into Canadian culture, and improved policies and programs that mark Canada as a pluralistic and egalitarian culture.



Muslim, immigrant, acculturation, women



Master of Arts (M.A.)






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