Inclusion of Chinese Immigrant Women in Public Physical Activity

Project Term 2006-2009
Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Project Objective

The purpose of this study was to examine how experiences with physical activity for recent immigrant Chinese women living in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) can inform Canadian sport and recreation policy at the local, provincial, and national levels to increase participation. The Chinese population is rapidly growing in major Canadian cities, yet little is known about their experiences in local sport and recreation.


Multiple qualitative data collection strategies included: an analysis of current multiculturalism and sport policies, and interviews with immigrant Chinese women (n=50), local, provincial, federal policy makers (n=32), and staff from an immigrant service agency (n=4). We subsequently organized a 2 day workshop that brought interviewees together to discuss action steps based on the findings which are being tracked through ongoing email communications.

Project Collaborations

City of Vancouver, Sport Canada, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. (immigrant services), and a number of provincial organizations

Team Members

Wendy Frisby (UBC), Lucie Thibault (Brock U.), Janna Taylor (UBC), Xin Huang (UBC graduate student), Hui-Ling Lin (UBC graduate student) Kathryn Cureton (UBC graduate student), Sheena Yang (UBC graduate student), Nicolien van Lujik (UBC graduate student)


Our analysis revealed that involvement in public physical activity has an important role to play in helping immigrant Chinese women with settlement into a new city and country. While many of them expressed interest in continuing activities done before immigrating, they were also interested in learning more about “Canadian activities” to improve fitness, decrease stress and social isolation, and to be good role models for their children. Yet, most receive no information on the opportunities available in their new communities.

Local, provincial and federal recreation and sport policy makers saw multiculturalism as an important policy area, especially given changing population demographics, but were often unsure how to proceed with policy and program development because of the complexities involved.

Next Steps

A Multiculturalism, Sport and Physical Activity Workbook is being prepared to assist communities in the development of physical activity policies and programs for newcomers.

For more information contact

Wendy Frisby
Project Leader