“I Feel Something Is Still Missing”: Leisure Meanings of African Refugee Women in Canada

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Jane HURLY, University of Alberta, Canada
Little is known about the leisure meanings of African women living in Canada, particularly of those who came as refugees. Using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, underpinned by Heidegger and Gadamer’s philosophical stance focusing on interpretation (Van Manen, 2014) I examined the leisure meanings of three African women who arrived in Canada as refugees and had resettled in a Canadian Prairie city. Joan, Naomi, and Michelle, who had fled conflicts in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, had lived in Canada for between two and six years. All had experienced traumatic experiences of conflict, including personal loss, violence, and deprivation in their homelands. Their leisure meanings fell largely into two categories: purposeful leisure and pleasurable leisure. Purposeful leisure defined leisure for advancement, self-improvement and knowledge-gain, and much of it was centred in their faith, faith community, and church. They all cited learning as a leisure activity and saw learning as playing a dual role in their lives because it was also necessary for career advancement, and for carving their place in the broader Canadian society. Physical activity was engaged in for leisure and fitness, and enjoying nature-based leisure with friends and family were important for passing time pleasurably, enjoying companionship and cementing friendships. These same activities were also engaged in purposefully to mitigate their ongoing stress resulting from past trauma and resettlement stress. Because of the prominence of their faith and the church as central to these women’s leisure, collaborative efforts by faith-based entities, leisure and recreation organizations and practitioners, settlement agencies, and mental health bodies is strongly recommended to effectively and holistically address the unique challenges of resettled African women refugees through leisure.