What is Promise of Home?

Promise of Home is a community-based research project in four phases. In Phase 1, we are looking for high school students who would like to share their experiences since immigrating to Fredericton. Phase 2 will look for immigrant families to share the same, while Phase 3 will include everyone in the community who wants to share their hopes and aspirations for a more inclusive community. Phase 4 will use all of the stories gathered to help make policy recommendations on how to make Fredericton more inclusive to anyone who is new.

Promise of Home’s narrative inquiry focuses on a holistic, ground-up approach to welcoming, supporting, and retaining immigrants in a place where they can feel comfortable and at home. We propose that barriers to community building can be overcome by incorporating the stories of both recent immigrants and other Frederictonians to restructure settlement policies. We pursue this approach through four lines of inquiry that embrace Fredericton as a place where: immigrant youth aspire to belong; immigrant families find a sense of belonging; people share hopes towards a more inclusive community; and these aspirations inform effective grassroots policies. Our project involves storytelling, performances, a visioning forum, a Web-based collection of stories and visions, town-hall meetings and policy workshops to develop community-driven recommendations regarding student integration, accessibility to social services and immigrant retention.

Promise of Home’s four-phase research project aims to address three concerns: (1) that newcomers have complex attachments to other places besides Fredericton and labour migration programs (such as the Provincial Nominee Program and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project) often ignore these nostalgic attachments and fail to explicitly address immigrant families’ aspirations for social attachments; (2) Fredericton’s marketing campaigns strive to project a welcoming, multicultural environment. However, research done by Allain (2019) and Wilson-Forsberg (2012) demonstrate that the reality is often far less welcoming; and (3) many stakeholders are working to build the skills and resources for meeting the challenges of retention and integration of newcomers, and by creating community-based policies that actually serve immigrants, integration efforts regarding different policies and community efforts will be more effective for all parties involved.

This project is a collaboration between the researchers and the participants, where participants are included in the data collection and analysis process through storytelling, written narratives, and performances. As the research shows, action research, and particularly a participatory approach, “include the researched in defining the questions, in data collection and analysis, and in interpreting and taking action based on research findings”. Participants will have an active role in generating information and knowledge that will be used later to initiate and create policy proposals relating to the resettlement of newcomers in Fredericton. As evidence of a participatory approach, the objective of this project is to allow participants to hold a major stake in data collection and analysis that is focused on community-based action.