Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





Canada, Coping, Muslim, Religiosity, Stress, Syrian Refugees


Ben C. H. Kuo




As of November 2015, 34 696 Syrian refugees have resettled in Canada (Government of Canada, 2016). Previous studies with refugee populations have found: a) depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder resulting from trauma in their country of origin; and b) problems with discrimination and Islamophobia in new host cultures. Thus, coping strategies have been crucial for refugees to thrive in their new host countries. The current study conducted qualitative interviews with 10 recently arrived Muslim, Arab, Syrian refugees in Windsor, Ontario. The interviews explored participants’ pre- and post-arrival experiences in Syria and Canada. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded using an interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach, into themes that emerged from refugees' lived experiences. Themes were organized based on the Transactional Model of Cultural Stress and Coping (Chun, Moos, & Cronkite, 2006). The results revealed superordinate themes that corresponded to each of the panels within the theoretical framework. The superordinate themes included 1) pre-migration stress and trauma; 2) identity assertion; 3) post-migration stressors; 4) religious and collective coping; and 5) positive outcomes and well-being in Canada. Pre-migration stress and trauma entailed fear for safety of family members, discrimination from citizens of neighbouring countries, and financial instability. Through enduring adversity, Syrian refugees asserted cultural and religious identities as well as their gender identities. Post-migration experiences included stressors in the form of acculturative stress, discrimination, financial burden, and survivor’s guilt and loss. To cope, Syrian refugee participants reported the use of religious coping and collective coping strategies to ultimately achieve positive outcomes and hopeful outlooks for their future in Canada. The findings expanded on existing literature on stress and coping, and illuminated the importance of the cultural and religious contexts of Muslim Syrian refugees in Canada.