We highlight some of the research findings based on focus group discussions facilitated by Francess Amara over the summer of 2018 with immigrant youth living in Winnipeg, from countries including: Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sierra Leone. Most of them were between 18 and 22 years old. These excerpts are from group discussion that covered a wide range of topics about race, dating, sexuality, and sexual health education challenges the youths have experienced while navigating life as newcomers to Canada and settling in Winnipeg. We have left the excerpts unchanged to highlight the youths’ own words and also as a way to open further discussion, even as troubling racial stereotypes, over-generalizations, and forms of homophobia were expressed. [Francess Amara]


Dating Challenges 

  • The whole concept of dating is more socially acceptable here than it is back home

  • Back home, as soon as you start dating a lady you tell her "i love you" but here , as soon as you tell a lady that "i love you" boom she is going to stay away from you.. you just can't say i love you to them, you have to build it up. But back home, even if you say "i love you to a girl you are not expected to do anything..you just known that down the road like two years or so you get to do something

  • As you mature you live and learn. you become more mature and like your priorities  and what you are looking for in a woman changes. and i’m sure we have all gone through this... you  are more focus as compared to when we were younger, now you look for someone who is going to help you attain your full potential and not someone who will distracts you, you want an equal partner.

  • the freedom here is way too big compared to Africa, like when it comes to sex, is way to big and i feel like back home the reason why your parents are not giving you that freedom to date is because they are scared you might do something stupid, and it's going to be a problem for them. people don't have jobs. here  even if you have a kid and  don't have a job the government is going go take care of your child for you.  you can have child support but back home not chance. so parents are more strict on that compare to here. 

  • The parents who are more old fashion, the longer they stay here they longer they realize you gotta adjust to new things living here so obviously they will be more opening and accepting to letting their kids date.

 

Sex Education, Sexuality and Challenges 

  •   I grew for 12 yrs i never saw anything like that and like a girl with a girl, and boy with a boy..

  • I never saw it before but i heard about it. They taught us stuff about it at school and at church they taught us not to do that and when i came here it was so open

  •  I really don't mind homosexuality, But because we grew up in Africa and those kind of things are not open. its consider an "abomination"  a sin 

  • And here sex is more promoted, its everywhere, in music, Instagram, movies  they want us to think about sex. Its part of the system.

  • For girls, its a bit easier to talk with your parents, because you get periods... you get the warnings of all the bad things that will happen if you have sex.

  • When it comes to sex, is way to big and i feel like back home the reason why your parents are not giving you that freedom to date is because they are scared you might do something stupid, and it’s going to be a problem for them. 

  • For us black kids, it hard for us. unless the parents initiate the conversation and even as that its so awkward and uncomfortable.

  • For Africans, when you reach like 24yrs-25 yrs they want you to get married , so like 18yrs and 19 yrs  they wants you to like have someone , at least if not they would start doing matchmaking 

  • You can’t even mention the word “sex” let alone have a conversation about it.

  • Even in middle school when it was time for sex ed and they gave us forms to take home for our parents to sign,  it was a very awkward conversation.

 

Racism challenges

  • I was like the only black in the school they would make fun of me

  • Everyone wants to be black until it's time to be black. The white girls are getting their hips and lips to look like black girls. Cultural appropriations. They want to be black until it's time to be a black person then they are out.

  • Some like to embraces on the good part, they like the gathering, the fun , they like the stereotypes

  • They want to live our lives but don't want the struggles,