Home Resource Guide

This module explores the concept of home as it refers to a place, an ideal, and a physical structure. Participants discuss their memories of, and relationships with, their original home countries, and offer comparisons between the types, sizes and building materials of the dwellings they have inhabited in Canada and their country of origin. These perspectives will help reveal assumptions we carry about the places we call home and how the concept of home varies across different cultures.

Whether one lives in a house, apartment or home stay, the roof over one’s head can provide a sense of security amongst the day to day challenges of adjusting to life in a new country. In the featured videos, newcomers speak of the challenges of finding a place to live where they can feel comfortable and safe; a limited budget and discrimination because of one’s ethnicity were expressed. The neighbourhood was also an important consideration in choosing a dwelling; most newcomers preferred to be close to amenities such as grocery stores, schools and public transit. Other comforts described included settling in close proximity to family or friends already settled in Canada, or the daily visit of the family cats in the home from which an international student from India rents a room.

The decoration of one’s dwelling provides a way in which newcomers can start to feel more settled in their new home, while also feeling connected to their place of origin and the family members left behind. As newcomers are often limited in how much luggage (if any) they can bring with them to Canada, textiles, which are light and portable, are commonly brought and used in this way. Participants presented an embroidered pillow made by a grandmother in Hungary and a termeh, a textile commonly used as a wall hanging or table covering in Iran. As newcomers become more settled, they begin to think of Canada as a “second home.”

Discussion Questions

  1. As a newcomer, do any of the stories featured in this module resonate with your own experience? Why or why not?
  2. Explore the Textile Museum of Canada’s collections database online at http://collections.textilemuseum.ca/. Design a home décor item inspired by at least two objects from the collection that represent different cultures.
  3. As one participant describes in her interview, an encounter with a Chinese textile during a visit to a museum awakened memories of exploring her favourite neighbourhood in Tehran. What senses and experiences evoke memories of your place of origin?
  4. Are there any objects from your home country that decorate your home? What is the significance of these objects?
  5. What kinds of housing are available in your country or city or town of origin? What building materials are commonly used? How does this compare to housing in Canada? What may be some reasons for these differences?
  6. How might your housing needs change over time due to changes in income or aging? What resources or strategies can help you anticipate these new realities?

Related Resources

Deciding where to live:

Tenant rights:

Finding an apartment:

Buying a house: