Refugee trajectories, imaginaries, and realities: Refugee housing in Canadian cities


  • Bragg Bronwyn York University
  • Daniel Hiebert


Refugee trajectories, Housing and labor marker for refugees, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver


The literature on refugee trajectories in Canada suggests that over time, and despite considerable hardship during the early years of resettlement, those who enter Canada as refugees eventually attain income and housing outcomes similar to other immigrants and to their Canadian-born counterparts. These positive achievements are partially described by the concept of an immigrant effect whereby immigrants to Canada are much more likely to purchase a home than their Canadian-born counterparts given their average financial circumstances. This paper seeks to deepen our collective understanding of the integration of refugees in the Canadian housing and labour market by presenting data from the 2016 census paired with findings from a qualitative case study exploring the initial years of settlement for one group of refugees. We argue that despite considerable hardship and barriers to housing and employment, refugee families exercise constrained forms of agency which helps explain their positive trajectories in the labour and housing market over the long term. This paper contributes to the literature on refugee integration by presenting data from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, as well as the additional cities of Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary. This is an important addition as less is known about the outcomes of newcomers to these cities. Drawing our on our qualitative data, we also contribute to the literature by examining the specific strategies that refugee families employ to grow their social capital and share resources within households.