Exploring belonging in regional resettlement: An examination of Syrian refugees’ resettlement experience on the island of Newfoundland, Canada

Ms Sarah Burrage1

1The University Of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia


This thesis will analyse the resettlement experiences of Syrian refugees within communities on the island of Newfoundland, Canada, with particular focus on their sense of belonging and identity. It considers how a sense of belonging is defined by resettled Syrian refugees within regional communities of Newfoundland and how this relates to perceptions of belonging by the community’s longer-term residents. It will also investigate the impact that regional spaces have on refugee groups’ resettlement experience and the role it plays in their decision to stay or leave. This thesis adopts a sociological approach to the research, utilizing a combination of qualitative ethnographic methods and thematic analysis. It discusses the important role transnational identities play in examining belonging, particularly in how it challenges traditional assumptions of integration.  Factors that lead to a sense of belonging/un-belonging, inclusion and exclusion in regional spaces will be interrogated. The experience of newly settled Syrian refugees within communities on the island of Newfoundland adds to the current literature that investigates resettlement challenges for refugees within regional spaces. By examining the island of Newfoundland this thesis plans to highlight the complex social identities that exist on island regions, particularly how they impact on the resettlement experience for refugees


Originally from St. John’s Newfoundland, I completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Following 6 months living and travelling in Tanzania, Africa, I moved to Adelaide, Australia to complete my Master of Arts in International Studies at the University of Adelaide. Since completion of my Masters I have spent many years working within various Human Services and not-for-profit organizations before commencing my PhD with the University of South Australia’s School of Creative Industries. An islander by birth, I feel a strong sense of connection to land, people, culture and heritage.

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