Laurier to host virtual forum on human migration

Wilfrid Laurier University is hosting a virtual forum on human migration and the changing climate on April 7.

The forum will feature Dr. Robert McLeman, a Laurier professor of environmental studies, and Dr. Edward Shizha, a Laurier professor of youth and children’s studies. 

It will be moderated by Ali Abukar, CEO of the Saskatoon Open Door Society which provides services for refugees new to Canada.

Topics covered will include the human impacts of climate change and the experiences of those resettling in Canada, among others.

Dr. McLeman will talk about the effects of changing climate inside and outside Canada and Dr Shizha will discuss how Canada can benefit from the skills of professionals moving here due to climate-based displacement.

The forum is part of Laurier’s Inspiring Conversations series. The series has previously hosted events on the topics of affordable housing, international conflict and the empowerment of racialized communities, among others.

Like the previous events, the forum on migration will feature a short period of the speakers presenting on their area of expertise and then a moderated question period. 

It will also be open to the public and free to attend but requires registering online ahead of time.

McLeman said he plans to approach the topic in several ways ranging from events in Canada to broader global trends to predictions on what impacts climate change may have on human migration in the future.

He mentioned extreme weather in Canada and abroad throughout the last few years as evidence that the effects of climate change are already being seen, including extreme heat and flooding in British Columbia. 

According to McLeman, in 2020 30 million people were displaced due to extreme weather events and issues associated with climate change. 

“When we’re talking about the impacts of climate change on human migration and displacement, it’s not just thinking about what might happen, this is stuff that’s happening right now,” McLeman said.

McLeman said he hopes students from a wide range of faculties take an interest in the topic and consider attending.

“The solutions involve everybody […] because we’re talking about physical science, we’re talking about natural science, we’re talking about social science, we’re talking about human impacts, healthcare,” he said.

“So for just about every major and every student at Laurier, there is an aspect of their degree and of their learning that is relevant to diagnosing the challenges that we face because of climate change.”

For students interested in learning more about climate change and its human impacts, McLeman recommends, besides attending the forum, that they look into the IPCC report on climate change released just last February, which he helped author.

More information, including how to register, can be found on Laurier Alumni’s website.

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