Some facts about homeless immigrant youth in Canada:

  • Nearly 2 out of 3 have origins in Africa or the Caribbean.
  • Over 1 in 3 identified as LGBTQ.
  • Over 25% identified as being a parent.
  • Over 50% report some level of religious or faith identity.
  • Family conflict was cited by two out of three as the main reason for becoming homeless.
  • Over 2 out of 3 indicated they would feel most comfortable seeking help from a family doctor or walk-in clinic.

Source: Hidden in Our Midst: Homeless Newcomer Youth in Toronto

All parents face cultural differences with their kids. They are younger and have grown up in a different time. But immigrant parents also have to deal with the different cultural values and behaviours their children learn from growing up in a new country.

In all cases, I believe that having an open, nonjudgmental communication with your children about issues you care about is essential if you want to work through cultural differences in a positive manner. This involves prioritizing values, deciding what you can live with and what you can’t. It is important to clarify the core values you want your children to learn, as opposed to behaviours which are so influenced by surroundings.

Why immigrant kids become homeless: study finds cultural clash with parents is the top reason

By: Nicholas Keung

Groundbreaking study says strife over Canadian culture versus tradition, as well as disapproval over sexual orientation, are the top reasons newcomer youth become homeless.

At age 12, Cheyanne Ratnam began couch-surfing to keep herself housed. By 14, she was a ward of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. After she grew out of care, the young immigrant still faced the prospect of becoming homeless.

“My mother had multiple jobs to support the two of us. I grew up in the Canadian culture and there was a difference between cultures. My mom did not approve of the choices I made. I was well adjusted, and I didn’t understand why mom could not,” said Ratnam, now 27.

She describes a family life filled with emotional conflicts.

“In her eyes, I was rebellious. And I just wanted to run away from home and get away.”

According to a groundbreaking Toronto study to be released Tuesday, intergenerational conflict over cultural differences is the most common reason immigrant youth end up homeless — followed by family disapproval of the young person’s sexual orientation.

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