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Intergenerational Relations, Drivers of Transmission and Resilience in Immigrant and Refugee Families in Quebec

Michèle Vatz Laaroussi

This text emphasizes the significance of the “We” within the family context and networks as a factor in the social integration of immigrants, men and women, young and old. This “We”, with its strong sense of family, embracing a migratory project, acting as a platform for integration into the life of a new society, mediating participation in new social institutions, is also a catalyser that builds up resilience and may sometimes be almost the only benchmark of continuity in a trajectory characterized by disruption and change. The present text analyzes three dimensions that run through and make up the dynamics of immigrant families: the process of intergenerational transmission, family memory and history, and resilience. This means that we approach intergenerational immigrant space by way of the transmissions, the creations, the coalitions, the resilience, and the successes that it empowers. The analysis, based on a number of surveys of immigrant families in Quebec, is more specifically drawn from two research projects, one dealing with cultural transmission to children by young immigrant couples (Helly, Vatz Laaroussi and Rachédi, 2001), the other looking at resilience as a factor in academic success amongst young immigrants and refugees in Quebec (Vatz Laaroussi, Kanouté, Lévesque, Rachédi, 2005). In the context of these two projects, interviews were held with one or other members (parents and/or children) of 43 families of diverse origins, schooling and socioeconomic levels. The results indicate that neither the country of origin nor the schooling of the parents were the single determining factors that affected the process of intergenerational transmission or the resilience of their children. However, these factors did sometimes influence the contributing dynamics and, more especially, lead to a range of modes of transmission of family memory and history or even of the way in which the academic success of the children was encouraged.