The “Brown Paper Syndrome”: Unaccompanied Minors and Questions of Status


  • Catherine Montgomery CLSC Côte-des-Neiges and McGill University



Canada, refugee children, unaccompanied minors, legal status, integration, vulnerability


In principle, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants equal rights to all persons residing in Canadian territory. In practice, it is clear that some populations are more “equal” than others. Difficulties relating to the immigration process, access to services, and discrimination are but some of the forms of exclusion often confronted by minority and immigrant communities. For unaccompanied minors, their combined status as refugee claimants and as minors creates an added factor of vulnerability, referred to by one minor as the “brown paper syndrome.” Drawing on a case study of unaccompanied minors in Quebec, the present article examines the relationship between status and barriers to integration, looking more specifically at the difficulties faced by these youth in the refugee determination process and in accessing resources in the public, private, and community sectors.


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How to Cite

Montgomery, C. (2002). The “Brown Paper Syndrome”: Unaccompanied Minors and Questions of Status. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 20(2), 56–67.



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