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Equity in the Broader Settlement Sector - Addressing Systemic Racism and Digital Equity across the Settlement Journey (2024)

Posted on:
June 24, 2024

What is this research about?

This research examined how racialized newcomers experience information and communication technologies (ICTs) during their settlement journey in Canada, focusing on digital equity and systemic racism. The study aimed to explore the intersection of systemic racism and digital inequity and to identify policies and practices that can support racialized newcomers more effectively.

Research infographic:

What do you need to know?

  • The project was conducted by the Centre for Community Based Research in partnership with Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership and Peel Newcomer Strategy Group.
  • It used a community-based research approach, involving stakeholders throughout the process.
  • The study focused on three main research questions related to newcomers' experiences with ICTs, current practices in the settlement sector, and strategies for improvement.
  • The main questions were:
    • How do racialized newcomers currently experience ICTs during their settlement journey, and to what extent is this experience equitable? (Lived experiences)
    • ​What policies and practices are currently implemented by settlement service providers, both IRCC-funded and non-IRCC-funded, to address digital (in)equities? and how effective are these efforts to tackle structural racism? (Current practices)
    • What strategies should be taken to improve policies and practices concerning ICTs, ensuring that racialized newcomers receive equitable support throughout their settlement journey? (Future directions)

What did the researchers do?

The research was conducted in three phases over ten months:

  1. Phase 1: Formation of an advisory committee and development of study protocols.
  2. Phase 2: Engagement with stakeholders through a literature review, key informant interviews, focus groups, and case studies.
  3. Phase 3: Dissemination of findings through a report, an infographic, and community feedback sessions.

The researchers:

  • Conducted a literature review
  • Held focus groups with newcomers and service providers
  • Carried out key informant interviews
  • Developed case studies of exemplary organizations
  • Analyzed data using thematic analysis
  • Organized community feedback sessions to validate findings

What did the researchers find?

Key findings include:

  • Experiences with ICTs: Racialized newcomers face both empowerment and obstacles when using ICTs. Challenges include language barriers, digital literacy levels, financial constraints, and privacy concerns.
  • Current Policies and Practices: Settlement service providers are committed to addressing digital inequities through various programs. However, these efforts are often ad hoc and lack a systemic approach. There is a need for more client-centered, flexible approaches in service delivery.
  • Effectiveness of Initiatives: The effectiveness of current initiatives in combating structural racism is uncertain due to a lack of comprehensive evaluation strategies. Systemic racism intersects with digital equity issues, but its impact is not always clearly recognized or addressed.
  • Organizational Stories: Case studies from organizations like COMPASS, COSTI, and Achev illustrate best practices in supporting racialized newcomers, particularly in promoting digital equity.

How can you use this research?

If you work in the settlement sector, you can use this research to:

  1. Adopt a Client-Centered Approach: Involve newcomers in program development and delivery to ensure services meet their needs.
  2. Increase Flexibility in Service Delivery: Offer both in-person and online services to accommodate diverse preferences and needs.
  3. Develop Tailored Digital Literacy Programs: Create programs that address the specific barriers faced by racialized newcomers, including language and cultural differences.
  4. Enhance Language and Translation Support: Provide multilingual information and robust translation services to overcome language barriers.
  5. Adopt a Trauma-Informed Approach: Ensure services are sensitive to the trauma and vulnerabilities of newcomers.
  6. Strengthen Trust and Safety Measures: Build trust and ensure digital safety for vulnerable clients.
  7. Foster Collaborative Partnerships: Work with other organizations to develop comprehensive and culturally responsive ICT solutions.
  8. Commit to Ongoing Research and Evaluation: Continuously assess and improve policies and practices to ensure they remain effective and relevant.

Summary

This research examined how racialized newcomers experience information and communication technologies (ICTs) during their settlement journey in Canada, focusing on digital equity and systemic racism. The study aimed to explore the intersection of systemic racism and digital inequity and to identify policies and practices that can support racialized newcomers more effectively.
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