Refugee children’s sandplay narratives in immigration detention in Canada

Author(s): Rachel KRONICK ; Cécile ROUSSEAU ; Janet CLEVELAND

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00787-017-1012-0

Abstract

Asylum seeking children arriving in Canada regularly face incarceration in medium-security-style immigration detention centres. Research demonstrates the human cost of detaining migrant children and families and the psychiatric burden linked with such imprisonment. This study aims to understand the lived experiences of children aged 3–13 held in detention. Informed by a qualitative methodology of narrative inquiry, child participants created worlds in the sand and generated stories to express their subjective experience. Results suggest that children’s sandplay confirms the traumatic nature of immigration detention while also revealing children’s sometimes conflicting understanding of the meaning of detention and their own migration. The results are contextualized by a description of detention conditions and the psychiatric symptoms associated with immigration incarceration. The study highlights the need for more research examining the impact of immigration detention on children’s mental health, while also underlining how refugee children’s voices provide important direction for policy change.

Keywords

Immigration detention; Children; Refugee; Asylum seeker; Sandplay; Mental health 

Tags: Canada, Refugees, Asylum seekers, Children, Children’s play, Immigration detention, Trauma

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