Individuals’ encounters and relationships with natural spaces are heavily influenced by their cultural backgrounds and lived experiences. It is thus unsurprising that new migrants understand, relate to, and benefit from their experiences in their host countries’ outdoor spaces in unique ways. This research analyzes 27 recent migrant women’s access, use, value, and perception of natural environments in Metro Vancouver. It aims to highlight how these spaces impacted participants’ well-being and influenced their conceptualization of Canada and their own identities.
Respondents expressed deep values and frequent use of Metro Vancouver’s natural spaces. Their engagement with these spaces provided multiple benefits including improvements in physical, mental, and social well-being. Participants’ gender, socioeconomic class, and familial status all influenced their relationships to the spaces they used. This was particularly evident in participant mothers’ strong association of outdoor spaces with their children’s well-being. Participants seemed to broadly share a notion of Metro Vancouver’s outdoor spaces as representing Canada and Canadian nature. Thus, participants actively used and understood these spaces as helping them socialize, adapt, and familiarize themselves with Canada and Canadian society. These spaces helped migrants develop a sense of belonging, evolve their identities, and cope with migration related challenges.