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Community-UBC Refugee & Migration Working Group

Community-UBC Refugee & Migration Working Group: A multi-agency partnership informing knowledge, practice and research

The Community-UBC Refugee & Migration Working Group connects members from across sectors and agencies who work collectively to inform public knowledge, practice, and research. The Working Group was first formed in 2015, when members organized a series of talks and an open house at a local settlement agency with a focus on refugee resettlement pathways. In 2016, the group coordinated a symposium alongside a University of British Columbia (UBC) opera on the refugee experience. Since 2017 the group has hosted a public symposium focusing on the leadership and rights of refugees who identify as LGBTQI+, in addition to facilitating an exchange that brought young people from refugee backgrounds to campus. This year, the Working Group is coordinating a storytelling project using filmmaking to advance anti-oppression work led by youth from newcomer and non-newcomer backgrounds. Sparking dialogue through panels, music, film, and media making, the Working Group continues to generate opportunities to better understand the insights and contributions of newcomers to their local communities. Outcomes of the group’s collective efforts are evident in the reach of its initiatives, which have involved over 1,500 event attendees since 2015.

Working Group members enjoy the dynamics of their collaboration, appreciating the strategic benefits of working across traditional boundaries that can separate settlement agencies and academic units. Community partners of the group have included representatives from MOSAIC, Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture (VAST), AMSSA, Options Community Services Society, ISSofBC, and the Vancouver Immigration Partnership with the City of Vancouver. University partners have included staff, faculty, and student representatives of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, International Student Development, WUSC Scholars, UBC Migration, and Community Engagement at UBC. The unique partnership model of the Working Group is effective in bridging across the interests of community leaders, service providers, academics, and members of the public.

Working Group members envision how sharing stories can amplify the voices of individuals and communities. The Working Group’s current project invites newcomer and non-newcomer youth to create short films on what belonging, diversity, and journeys of starting over mean to them. Engaging with stories can be a powerful way for people to connect with one another, deepen their knowledge, and reflect on their values. It is hoped that supporting storytelling can build solidarity across young people's experiences of transitions. To help these stories travel well, the Working Group is aiming for short films that youth create to become resources that can enable learning within and beyond community and classroom contexts.

The Working Group is a collaborative venture amongst representatives from multiple community organizations and academic units who work in partnership. Each partner shares resources, space, ideas, and networks to pursue the goals of the group. Given these strengths, the Working Group is well positioned to meet emerging needs about what has been missing in narratives and research on migration, and how to address myths and misinformation about immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented peoples. The group’s approach to partnership leverages its collective strengths and values. Partners circulate and lend support for one another’s unique initiatives, while cooperating on joint projects, showing how multi-agency community-university partnerships can thrive.

Current Members:

University Members

  • Lindsay Marsh, Manager, Communications and Program Development, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, UBC
  • Kat Cureton, Acting Manager; Zsuzsi Fodor, Engagement Strategist, Community Engagement Office, UBC
  • Sarah Cameron, Program Advisor, International Student Development, UBC; Rama Hamid, UBC WUSC Scholar
  • Saguna Shankar, Community Liaison Assistant, UBC Migration; Suzanne Huot, Assistant Professor, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy; Co-lead, UBC Migration; Sean Lauer, Associate Professor. Sociology; Community Liaison, UBC Migration

Community Members 

  • Saleem Spindari, Senior Manager, Manager of Refugees and Migrant Workers Programs; Darae Lee, Senior Manager, Settlement and Integration Programs; Alexandra Dawley, Manager of Refugee Settlement and Integration Program, MOSAIC
  • Mariana Martinez Vieyra, Clinical Supervisor; Provincial Refugee Mental Health Coordinator, VAST
  • Khim Tan, Deputy Executive Director, Employment and Immigrant Services; Jenny Lam, Senior Manager; Alysha Baratta, Research Lead, IRCC funded Social Innovations R&D Project, Options Community Services
  • Katie Rosenberger, Executive Director, AMSSA
  • Kathy Sherrell, Associate Director - Settlement Services, ISSofBC

Continuing Members 

  • Nadia Carvalho, Social Planner, City of Vancouver
  • Ismaël Traoré, Engagement Advisor, Centre for Community Engaged Learning