Immigrants' exposure to natural environments in Canada: associations with integration, settlement satisfaction, physical activity, and wellbeing

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Charles Rodriguez, Ulises
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Health Sciences
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Health Sciences
Refugees and immigrants dissatisfied with their settlement may experience a significant decline in mental health after arrival. Evidence suggests that nature can positively affect mental health, belonging, and place attachment. The dissertation includes three complementary studies. Our scoping review revealed that being in nature is primarily an embodied experience that can foster new memories, facilitating adaptation and attachment to new environments among immigrants. Our national cross-sectional study suggest that immigrants engage in significantly fewer outdoor activities and outdoor activities are associated with settlement satisfaction. In our evaluation, participants expressed a range of motivations, benefits, challenges, and recommendations for a local community garden project. The scoping review and cross-sectional study identify outcomes and barriers to participation and summarize recommendations for research and practice. Adopting a participatory approach to our evaluation facilitated capacity building and direct use of research findings. Such an approach can catalyze sustainable community action in immigrant communities.
This dissertation includes three different and complementary projects. Each phase entails an independent and publishable study. The three projects are: first, a scoping review of immigrants' exposure to natural environments; second, a nationally representative cross-sectional study of outdoor participation and settlement satisfaction; and third, a developmental evaluation of the immigrant volunteer program at the Interfaith Learning Garden of the Interfaith Foodbank Society of Lethbridge.
nature , immigrants , adaptation , wellbeing , physical activity , natural environments , refugees , integration