Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Clinton Beckford


culturally responsive pedagogy, education, multiculturalism, refugees, school, SLIFE




The Syrian refugee crisis has displaced millions of people and left many children without proper access to education. More than 1,300 Syrian refugees have made Windsor, Ontario their home since the start of the conflicts. The purpose of the study is to explore the experiences of Syrian refugee children in the public school system in Windsor, Ontario by interrogating this issue through the eyes and voice of a Syrian refugee secondary school student. The study is guided by the theoretical perspectives of multiculturalism and culturally responsive pedagogy. Through a blended approach, this case study employs a narrative inquiry and phenomenological approach to explore the secondary school experiences of one Syrian refugee student. A review of the literature reveals the value of positive teacher-student relationships in the school experiences of refugees. Furthermore, it reveals that many teachers feel unprepared to teach refugee students, and that refugee students are often perceived through a “deficit lens”. There remains a limited understanding of the lived experiences of Syrian refugee students in a Canadian context. Data analysis was conducted through the process of “restorying” (Ollerenshaw & Creswell, 2002, p. 332), in which the participant’s experiences are combined and retold through a “three-dimensional space approach” (p. 339). Five themes emerged from the data: passion for education; maturity and resilience; community: attachment to the familiar; life as teacher; teacher as champion. Recommendations for teacher practices include facilitating a welcoming and inclusive environment for students from refugee backgrounds. Producing resources and professional development programs for educators that facilitate an understanding of refugee-student experiences and needs is also recommended. Recommendations for future research include deeper exploration of the lived experiences of Syrian refugees in various Canadian contexts as well as an investigation of the nature of teachers’ culturally responsive practice.