Refugee Resettlement & Intersectionality in Canada and US

Since 2017, we have embarked on my latest new project funded by the University of Calgary, URGC Seed Grant 2017 and the 2018 Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) - Insight Development Grant to study how the reception of Syrian, Yazidi, and Rohingya refugee families in the U.S. and Canada affect the readjustment and resettlement of the community as a whole. We aim to explore public perceptions, views, and discourse surrounding the Syrian refugees. The project juxtaposes media and political rhetoric on immigration with the lived experiences of the families. Along one dimension, we ask structural questions that target the intersections of race, gender, ethnicity, and immigration status for refugee families. The other research dimension is based upon the microdynamics of the family shaped by gender, religion, the ethnic community, and the war. These relationships between the two dimensions of inquiry are important given that at the core of the identity and experience of the families lies their refugee status but from two very different locales. At the macro level are questions of Canadian nationhood embedded in patriarchal and racialized ideologies. At the micro-level are individuals seeking “belonging” in Canada while struggling with the trauma of war, imminent poverty, and non-transferability of human capital.

See the community report the CGIM team of graduate students (Negin Saheb Javaher, Sophia Thraya, Tanner Shortm Souzan Korsha and Chetna Khandelwall) and I produced based on the research we did in collaboration with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and the Yazidi community in Calgary. The Yazidi community in Calgary who came to the city in 2017 under Canada's "Survivors of Daesh Program" opened their homes and hearts to us so that we could conduct population-level in-depth, family-based interviews with 45 families and 241 individuals from 2019-to 2020.

Another project under this rubric that is in its planning stages is the “Reaffirming Social Justice, Equity, Anti-Racist Research: Impact on BIPOC Youth” project that looks at how immigrant-serving organizations in Calgary are engaging their youth in anti-racism programming. This project is funded by Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada.

Our community partner for these projects since 2017 has been the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS). At CCIS, we have been closely working with Bindu Narula, Director of Resettlement & Integration Services, and Rod Olson, Project Manager, Land of Dreams (Urban Farming Project).