By Jasminee Sahoye
A study among three immigrant communities in Toronto including African-Caribbean has found that families who are separated through migration to Canada often regret the decision to live apart.
The study which was conducted by researchers from York University at the Ontario Metropolis Centre (CERIS) found that for many immigrant parents, the difficulty of obtaining employment after arriving in Canada and the struggle to get settled lead some parents to leave their children behind, or send them back to their home countries for an undetermined time.
Parent-child separation is increasingly prevalent across the world as trans-national families live in two or more different countries during migration.
The researchers focused on Chinese, South Asian, and African-Caribbean families, three groups in which separation is not uncommon.
They found that separated families often suffer and that the effects of the separation can be irreversible. In some cases, family reunification was considered as difficult as the separation itself because of the estrangement that had developed between children and their parents.
Most respondents noted that they often felt they had no choice at the time, but said they would not separate again if in the same circumstances.
“The study also revealed that cultural factors do play into the rationale and the response of immigrant families,” says Dr. Yvonne Bohr, the principal investigator. “For example, Chinese parents often send their children back to China to be close to their grandparents while South Asian families may send their older children back home for a more acceptable education.”
The researchers argue that this phenomenon is common enough in Toronto to merit specific support for separated families during or after migration. They pinpoint the licensing and certification processes in Canada as one of the most significant barriers for immigrants that can potentially lead to splitting parents and children apart.