Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

Case Study for Kin 6300: How do we Get Syrian Refugees More Involved in Fredericton Rec?

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This upcoming Tuesday, Alex (Ries) & I will be doing a workshop on the integration of immigrants in sport and recreation, especially from the lens of John Crompton’s re-positioning theory (check link), which gives strategies for organizations to solve recreation problems. As the first case study, this is a fictional situation below, where Fredericton’s municipal recreation is trying to attract Syrian refugees. The case study incorporates elements of our real-world experiences with research and news stories.  Second years as well, feel free to share your preliminary thoughts! In addition to references, our suggested background readings are also linked below.

For our second case study, time permitting, we will explore the issue of immigrant integration and re-positioning from the sports management perspective, more specifically looking at this article here, namely Joanne Lee-Young’s “Canucks in Canada” about how the Vancouver Canucks are trying to attract Chinese fans & residents to their games. No worries if you don’t get through it! There is a 2-minute video in the link which we will show before class, and we will also give a little background before we go.


You are the head of a recreation center in Fredericton, and are faced with a challenge of making recreation more accessible and attractive to the many new Syrian refugees who have moved to the city. Indeed, Fredericton has seen more than 500 refugees from Syria move to its neighborhoods in the last year, more than any other city in Canada per capita (South, 2017).

For the most part, Syrian families seem to be integrating well, but there have also been challenges. For instance, a Global News story reported educators at the local Fredericton High School were “overwhelmed” by new refugee students, due to (Bissett, 2016). In fact, just the other day, a camp leader reported a young 7-year-old Syrian boy talking casually about using machine guns (real-life experience; also see Bissett, 2016). Another participant of the same age had social anxiety, exacerbated by an inability to understand his coaches, resulting in him often hiding in a corner during his soccer program (real-life experience). Translators were also hard to find or budget for, resulting in several staff not knowing how to engage new participants (Bissett, 2016).

That said, for every negative story experience a refugee participant had in your recreation programs, there seemed to be ten more positive. One participant won a national award for volunteering, and was now assistant coaching the program she first played in as a participant when coming to Canada two years ago (adapted from Surette, 2017). Another participant reported that the recreation programs created “connection” and “belonging,” allowing him to make many new friends across cultures (YMCA, 2016). Yet another reported hockey to be her favorite sport, despite only trying it in the past year (although, on the whole, you have noticed that refugee participation in Winter sports has been minimal). Indeed, there is lots of evidence that recreation bridges gaps to help immigrant families integrate better into their new communities (Institute for Canadian Citizenship, 2014). As well, many organizations like Fredericton’s Multicultural Association and the YMCA have been leaders helping new refugee families settle in Fredericton (YMCA, 2016).

Still, advocates for refugee groups have noted cost, transport, overly structured programs and a lack of information were big barriers to refugees participating in recreation programs (ICC, 2014, p. 5-6). To help alleviate some of these concerns, the Fredericton government has provided free recreation passes for one year to refugees and has also made bus passes free for off-peak periods (Fraser, 2016; Keefe, 2016). That said, communication and language barriers have still proven a challenge, deterring many parents from signing up their children. You also notice that some children who previously attended programs when free stop attending after the first free year.

As well, when looking at registration rates, you notice a significantly larger number of male refugee participants are participating in sports programs than females, even more than average. One 14-year-old girl in a soccer program for example reported, “We like sports because we’re forbidden from them… There are other girls who’d like to play but their families won’t let them” (This quote is from a real Syrian refugee at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, but is used here to illustrate specific issues around the participation of female immigrants in sport; from Whitman, 2014).


Given the above, the challenge of how to better “sell” recreation options will be considerable. Fortunately, however, you have learned about re-positioning and theoretical concepts from Kin 6300, which can help you navigate these difficult waters! Given this, some questions to ponder:

  • How do you best “sell” recreation options to new Syrian refugees (especially grls)? As well, how do you adapt recreation offerings to make options more attractive? In particular, consider using re-positioning strategies help navigate your analysis: Would you use real, associative, competitive or psychological positing here?
  • How can you ensure different strategies that are implemented are sustainable in the long-term? How do you implement these strategies with limited budgets?
  • There are many issues around immigrant recreation that you brought up in the case. How are these similar/ different to other recreations trends we have discussed in class (e.g. with concerns about structure, inclusion or female participation)?

Immigrants in Recreation



Bissett, K. (July 2016). Sudden influx of Syrian refugees overwhelmed N.B. high school: documents. Global News. Retrieved from:

Keefe, J. (January 2016). Syrian Refugees in Fredericton Presented with Bus Passes, Teddy Bears. Global News. Retrieved from:

Smith, G. (July 2014) Playing Together: New Citizens, Sports & Belonging. Institute of Canadian Citizenship. Retrieved from:

South, A. (January 2017). Fredericton welcomed more Syrians per capita than other Canadian cities: multicultural association. Global News. Retrieved from:

Whitman, E. Syrian Refugees Find Normalcy in Football. Al-Jazeera. Retrieved from:

YMCA Canada. (2016). Building Communities for Syrian Refugees. YMCA. Retrieved from:            YMCA_SyrianSpecialReport_2016_ENG-final.pdf.


Suggested Background Readings:

Bissett, K. (July 2016). Influx of Syrian Refugees Overwhelmed N.B. School. MacLean’s. Retrieved from:

CityNews. (April 2017). Canada 150: Immigrant Parents on their First Brush with Hockey. Retrieved from:

Crompton, J. (April 2009). Strategies for Implementing Re-Positioning of Recreation Services. Managing Leisure, 14. Retrieved from:

(2nd Case Study for Analysis, Time-Permitting) Lee-Young, J. Canucks in China: Team Reaches Out to Old and New Fans at Home and Across China. Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from:

Pace, Natasha. (February 2017). Winter by the Sea. Global News. Retrieved from:

Smith, G. (July 2014) Playing Together: New Citizens, Sports & Belonging. Institute of Canadian Citizenship. Retrieved from:

Craig, L. (January 2009). Where are the Minorities?. CBC Sports. Retrieved from:

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