Laurier develops study with local immigrant partnership

Graphic by Sam Chow
Graphic by Sam Chow

Wilfrid Laurier University’s associate director of the International Migration Centre, Margaret Walton-Roberts, has been working alongside PhD student Blair Cullens, among other colleagues, to develop a study looking into the role of Local Immigrant Partnerships (LIPs) in the Syrian refugee settlement process.

After submitting a proposal to a special call made by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada, Walton-Roberts and Cullens were awarded a grant of 24,944 dollars in July to carry out the study.

LIPs were created from a call made by the Canadian government to form collaborative groups of organizations within the community that could aid in the success of immigrant resettlement. LIPs began fully functioning in 2012.

The study will look at how LIPs have played a role in the settlement process in second-tier cities across Ontario. The three cities selected for the studies include Waterloo, Hamilton and Ottawa.

“Each of these cities is one of the official reception zones for Syrian refugees, so those are cities that the Federal government identified as saying these are cities where we will be sending refugees,” said Walton-Roberts.

“There was enough similarity between those three cities in terms of population size, number of refugees that they accepted and the history of the LIPs and its evolution.”

According to Cullens, the LIPs have essentially transformed and revolutionized local settlement policy.

“Originally we were just going to focus on the LIPs, but then when I started last year, the Syrian refugee crisis had topped the news. When that started and so little research done on the LIPs, it seemed like a natural testing ground,” said Cullens.

The study will consist of interviewing participants from partnerships made through the LIPs. This could include members of school boards, municipalities, various health agencies and religious organizations, among others.

There will be between 15 and 30 interviews conducted within each LIP. Each interview will consist of a set of open-ended questions, providing qualitative results.

“We’re going to try and interview the same types of people in each one so that we have comparable data,” said Cullens.

“We’re essentially looking to see on a sectoral basis how the LIP has interacted with the different sectors and organizations within those sectors as part of the Syrian resettlement.”

The team will include a lead researcher, who could be either a faculty member or, in the case of Hamilton, a government employee and a graduate student in each city.

“It’s important to think about what resources we should direct to help refugees settle effectively in communities. We don’t want to duplicate effort and there’s no point in being competitive in how that happens. So when people collaborate it should be more effective,” said Walton-Roberts.

After submitting an ethics proposal on September 19, the team is waiting for approval to comment on the study.

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