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Homeland return visits by Ghanaian immigrants in Canada

Homeland return visits by Ghanaian immigrants in Canada

by Vivien J. Bediako

Vivien J. Bediako

What is home? What does home mean to you? Do you have a special affinity for and attachment to your homeland? Do you visit Ghana purely as a touristic destination or as home? These are some of the questions Vivien is exploring in her doctoral dissertation, entitled Return Visits to the Homeland through Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) Tourism: Ghanaian Canadians’ Negotiations of Home, Belonging, and Place Attachment.

Ghanaians in the diaspora at arrival hall of Kotoka International Airport, Ghana, 2023.

Over the years, Ghanaians in the diaspora have regarded their ancestral homeland as their true and ideal home. Kinship relations, fond memories, and nostalgia have shaped their identity and imagination in their host country (in this case, Canada). Their longing to visit their homeland for holidays, visiting friends and relatives, and reconnecting with their roots, persists throughout their stay in Canada.

Literature on intergenerational migrants and their return visits to their parental homeland is hard to find, and is even scarcer in the case of Ghanaians in Canada.

Vivien’s positionality as a first-generation immigrant who now has Canada as her home, and her personal experience of working in the tourism industry led her to this research as a way of investigating the differences, if any, between first- and second-generation Ghanaian immigrants making return visits.

Some Ghanaian Canadians visit a hotel during their trip to Ghana, 2022.

Adopting a cultural-geographical perspective, and drawing on scholarship on the geographies of home, belonging, and attachment to place, she explores the social and cultural processes associated with Ghanaian immigrants’ return visits from a gendered, generational, and spatio-temporal lens. She is examining first-generation immigrants as well as second-generation adult children.

Using qualitative semi-structured interviews, Vivien discusses the meanings these immigrants attach to home, how they construct and negotiate home, and how they reconceptualize the notion of home as they engage in return visits to the homeland. The differences and similarities in terms of how these two sets of generational cohorts perceive their sense of belonging and attachment to the homeland are also teased out.

The findings of this work will enhance our understanding of the intersections between migrants’ return visits to their homeland, their transnational mobilities and their involvement in tourism.

Here are some of the interesting narratives emerging from Vivien’s qualitative interviews:


Vivien Bediako is a PhD Candidate in the Graduate Program in Geography. She is supervised and mentored by Prof. Joseph Mensah, with Prof. Philip Kelly and Prof. Gertrude Mianda as her committee members. Vivien’s research interests include migration and transnationalism; Black diaspora issues; and African development. Her current research deals with the intersections between tourism and migration. In November 2023, she gave a talk in the Tubman Talks series about her research on Ghanaian Canadians' Negotiations of Home, Place Attachment and Belonging. She will be presenting at TMU's CERC in Migration and Integration Migration Working Group event on Diaspora and Transnationalism in April 2024. With an MPhil in Development Geography from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and a BA (Hons) in Geography & Resource Development from the University of Ghana, Vivien also has extensive working experience with the Ghana Tourism Authority and Conservation International (Ghana), a not-for-profit environmental organization that brings together the people and skills needed to build Africa’s capacity to conserve biodiversity through sound science, local initiatives, and good governance.