Ishan Ashutosh Talk: Tuesday September 26th, 2017, 2:30pm-3:30pm @ Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo
Details TBA

World In Motion: International Migration and Refugee Trends and Challenges

In partnership with Third Age Learning Guelph, the IMRC presents the 2017 Winter Lecture Series “World In Motion: International Migration and Refugee Trends and Challenges”. This lecture series engages with one of the most important issues of our time. From global to local levels, human migration raises complex social, economic and political issues. Though by no means a contemporary phenomenon, migration has become a ‘hot button’ political issue; while governance of refugee and migrant flows can have lasting consequences for human rights, social cohesion and economic prosperity. The series begins by looking backward, to the historical routes of migration, proceeds to contemporary challenges and opportunities created by migration, and concludes by looking forward to Canada’s role in this ever widening world in motion.

January 11

Global Migration History: Tracing the great migrations

This lecture will focus on the historical context of global migration and will explore the driving factors behind these movements.

Lecturer: Dr. Jason Neelis

Dr. Jason Neelis studies religious traditions of South Asia in historical, economic, and material contexts, with an emphasis on issues related to processes of cross-cultural mobility and exchange. His teaching interests extend broadly to trans regional connections and movements and the role of cultural and religious catalysts in the past and present. Dr. Neelis holds a BA from Brown University, an MA from University of Texas at Austin and a PhD from the University of Washington. 

January 18

Contemporary Migrations:  Root causes and governance of migration

This lecture will focus on the causes and drivers of today’s migratory patterns. It will explore these factors in terms of global, national, and provincial implications.

Lecturer: Dr. Alan Simmons

Dr. Alan Simmons is Senior Scholar in Sociology at York University in Toronto. He has written widely on international migration, refugee movements, immigrant settlement in Canada, and Canadian immigration policy. He is author of a several academic monographs and more than four dozen scholarly book chapters and journal articles. Professor Simmons holds BA and MA degrees from the University of British Columbia and a PhD from Cornell University.

January 25

The Canadian Immigration Experience: history, politics & economics

This lecture will provide insight into Canada’s long established role as a destination country for immigration. Former and current political, historical, and economic issues, policies and governance approaches will be discussed.

Lecturer: Raphael Girard

Raphael Girard  has over 40 years of experience in the Canadian Foreign Service. Throughout his time, he specialized in refugee and immigration issues, leading the task force on Refugee Determination which developed legislation that continues to form the basis of Canada’s approach to the protection of refugees claiming asylum in Canada.  He served in several senior executive positions in the Public Service including Director General of Refugee Affairs, and Assistant Deputy Minster, Immigration Operations. In his postings abroad Mr. Girard served an Ambassador to Yugoslavia and Romania as well as a number of countries in Southern Europe.      

February 1

Gaining Perspective I: Migration and socio-economic change

This lecture will outline issues and challenges related to migration flows for both countries of origin and destination, ranging from shifting norms to economic development.

Lecturer: Dr. Mikal Skuterud

Dr. Mikal Skuterud is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Waterloo. His main research interests lie in the field of labour economics, especially in the areas of immigration policy and labour market regulations affecting the hours that people work. He also focuses on the challenges that many new immigrants face in trying to integrate into Canada’s labour markets. He holds an undergraduate degree from Labour Studies from McMaster University, a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of British Columbia, and a PhD in Economics from McMaster University.

 February 8

Gaining Perspective II: The politics of migration

In the context of large movements of individuals across border, this lecture will examine state and popular reactions and perceptions to migration. Emerging concerns such as racism, xenophobia, and politics of Brexit and “Trumpism” will be discussed.

Panel Discussion: Anna Klimbovskaia, Kate Subak, Dr. Edward Koning

Anna Klimbovskaia is the Project Manager and Lead Researcher of the Pluralism Project. She holds a Masters in International Public Policy from the Balsillie School of International Affairs with a double specialization in international political economics and international environmental policy. Anna’s research focuses on sustainable development, economic policy, energy,diversity, and labour mobility, among others. 

Kate Subak is a senior executive with a background in management consulting and leadership in major arts and financial institutions. Kate deeply appreciates a good strategy and a strong fact base, and she loves working with people on issues they care deeply about. Kate lives in Toronto.The Century Initiative was formally established a little over two years ago with the goal of developing and driving a project that would transform Canada for the 21st Century. Its stated goal is thoughtful, responsible population growth, and everyone involved with the Century Initiative is working hard toward a Canada of 100 million people by the year 2100.

Dr. Edward Koning is an assistant professor at the University of Guelph. His research centres on the politics of immigration and integration, with a particular focus on North American and Western Europe. His interests also include ethnic and linguistic diversity, new institutionalist theory, minority politics and social policies. Currently, he spends most of his research time on investigating comparative differences in the access immigrants have to social programs in Western welfare states.

February 15

Refugee Settlement:  Refugee experiences & Canadian communities

A panel discussion will include multidisciplinary and diverse perspectives on refugee experiences. By bringing together academics and community organizations this panel will highlight the human face of migration and the challenges of community integration.

Panel Discussion: Dr. Margaret Walton-Roberts, Maissaa Almustafa, Jaya James, Jim Estill

Dr Margaret Walton-Roberts is a human geographer trained in the UK and Canada who focuses on international migration. She is currently a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and Associate Dean o the School of International Policy and Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Her research interests are in gender and migration, transnational networks, and immigrant settlement. 

Maissaa Almustafa is a PhD candidate at the Global Governance Program at Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo Ontario. Her broad research interest includes the protection gaps for refugees created by clashes between already established frameworks of global migration governance and national policies and practices of immigration and border control.

Jaya James is a lifelong Guelph resident and University of Guelph graduate. She is the director of Lakeside HOPE House, a Guelph organization that offers services and programs to community members experiencing poverty. Jaya was the founding director of the Refugee Sponsorship Forum that brought together resources and built relationships across not-for-profit community organizations in support of 76 privately sponsored refugee families coming to Guelph and area. 

February 22

Religion and Migration: Faith, culture & perceptions across borders

This lecture will focus on the role of religion in migration from a variety of faith-based perspectives. Topics will emphasize the complex intersections between culture, identity and faith across borders.

Lecturer: Dr. Paul Freston

Dr. Paul Freston is the CIGI Chair in Religion and Politics in Global Context at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and with the Religion and Culture Department at Wilfrid Laurier University. Dr. Freston is a distinguished senior fellow and director of the Program for Studies of Religion in Latin America, Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR), Baylor University, and professor colaborador in the Post-Graduate Programme in Sociology, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Brazil. He has published extensively on three areas: religion and politics in comparative perspective; religion, globalization and transnationalism; and transformations in the religious field of Latin America and especially Brazil.

March 1

Canada in the World: Looking forward

The lecture series will conclude with a look at the Canadian Government’s approach to migration governance, from border control to immigration and citizenship policies. Emphasis will be given to understanding the past, present and future of immigration policies.

Lecturer: Dr. Andrew Thompson and Dr. Jenna Hennebry

Dr. Andrew S. Thompson is adjunct assistant professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and the program officer for the global governance programs at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. He is also the co-host of Inside the Issues, CIGI’s weekly international affairs podcast.  He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Waterloo, and is a specialist in the fields of international human rights, civil society movements and fragile states.

Dr. Jenna Hennebry holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, is an Associate Professor affiliated with the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and is the Director of the International Migration Research Centre (IMRC) at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research focuses on international migration and mobility, with a specialization in lower-skilled labour migration with regional expertise in Canada, Mexico, Morocco and Spain. Dr. Hennebry’s research portfolio includes comparative studies of migration policy and foreign worker programs with an emphasis on migrant rights and health, migration industries, non-state migration mediation, transnational families, and the role of remittances in development


International Students in Ontario and Canada’s Postsecondary Education System

Research done by IMRC affiliated faculty have focused on various aspects of the international students’ experience, their socioeconomic status and outcomes after finishing their studies, as well as major provincial and federal policy changes that affect student immigration. Research has focused on how the healthcare sector is influenced by policies addressing postsecondary international students. It has explored the intersection of nursing regulatory and immigration systems in Canada. Migrant transition programs (Status conversion from temporary to permanent) influence the nursing sector in Canada.

For more information and questions please contact Dr. Margaret Walton-Roberts ([email protected])or Dr. Jenna Hennebry ([email protected])

Report: International Students in Ontario’s Postsecondary Education System, 2000-2012: An evaluation of changing policies, populations and labour market entry processes

Keegan Williams, Gabriel Williams, Amy Arbuckle, Margaret Walton-Roberts and Jenna Hennebry from the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University
This report explores how many international students came to Ontario between 2000-2012, their socioeconomic status and outcomes after finishing their studies, as well as the major provincial and federal policy changes that affected student immigration during this time. The study examines international student visa data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, as well as international student arrival and labour market transition data from Statistics Canada.

Video: Nursing shortages and international migration

Video: Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) in Canada

These films are products of a SSHRC knowledge Synthesis grant that explored the intersection of nursing regulatory and immigration systems in Canada. For more information about internationally educated nurses, please see the report below.

2014-08-1, via Youtube

Report:  Immigration policy changes and entry to practice routes for Internationally Education Nurses (IENs)

Margaret Walton-Roberts, Jennifer Guo, Keegan Williams and Jenna Hennebry

This knowledge synthesis report examines how migrant transition programs (status conversion from temporary to permanent) influence the nursing sector in Canada. Immigrant transition programs have significant relevance for nursing because they add complexity to;  labour force planning in the health sector,  ethical recruitment protocols for international health care, processes of migrant workforce integration, and  the assessment of structural processes that shape and reproduce migration as a form of gendered state developmentalist policy in some sending regions.

The Globe Nurse Care Chain: From India to Canada

Current Research: Indian Trained Nurses in Ontario, Canadaconferences 178

Margaret Walton-Roberts in collaboration with Jenna Hennebry

In her current research, Dr. Walton-Roberts examines the changing spatial and social characteristics of Indian trained nurse emigration as part her wider interest in global skilled migration. She examines the experiences of a cohort of Indian trained nurses to come to Ontario, Canada, for a post-graduate critical/geriatric care course. The custom-designed course was explicitly structured to guide students through the regulatory requirements to practice nursing in Ontario, and all the students entered the program through an immigration-education consultant based in India. Students were mostly drawn from two states in India, Kerala and Punjab. The research examines their experiences in the educational program and their entry into the nursing profession in Canada.

For more information or questions please contact Dr. Margaret Walton-Robert ([email protected]) and Dr. Jenna Hennebry ([email protected])

Nursing Education in Punjab and its Role in Overseas Migration

Smita Bhutani, Pradita Gupta and Margaret Walton-Roberts

Based on survey and interview data gathered at nursing schools and colleges across Punjab, this research demonstrates how opportunities linked to the global nursing labour market substantially motivate the uptake of the profession in Punjab. The allure of working overseas is not just accounted for by salary differences, but also by the perceived advantages of continued training and career development that overseas employment (particularly in the west) offers. The research recommends policy changes in Punjab to enhance the attractiveness of the conditions and career development of nursing in order to compensate for the substantial draw the international market offers trained nurses.

Student Nurses and their Post Graduation Migration Plans: A Kerala Case Study

Margaret Walton-Roberts

The research explores the training and migration of nurses from Kerala in Southern India. Many western observers argue that currently there is a worldwide shortage of trained nurses, and the demand for all types of qualified nurses can only be serviced through international migration. Based on interviews and surveys, the research demonstrates the overwhelming desire of students to work overseas and elaborates on their geographical preferences with regard to possible destinations. Against the backdrop of the Global Nursing Care Chain, nurse migration to large institutional hospitals with bone fide recruitment agencies is seen as a desirable, indeed permissible, channel of mobility of this class of skilled, feminized migrant, and as such suggests that it will continue to be of significant policy and research interest both in India and abroad.

More readings:

Walton-Roberts, M. (2012) “Contextualizing the global nursing care chain: international migration and the status of nursing in Kerala, India.” Global Networks 12, 2: 175-194.

Walton-Roberts, M. and J. Hennebry (2012) “Indirect pathways into practice: A comparative examination of Indian and Philippine internationally educated nurses and their entry into Ontario’s nursing profession.” CERIS Working Paper No. 92.

Immigration Policy and Skilled Migration

Global competition for skilled migration has seen a range of policy options employed to capture full and partial human capital endowments. Immigration policy in many OECD nations now places a premium on migrants with specific skills that are seen as vital to national development, innovation and competitiveness. Nations are in competition for this talent, often reverting to what has been called a ‘citizenship for talent exchange’. Greater migrant selectivity can be seen in the growing use of the skilled points-based system across immigrant receiving states. One policy arena emerging in response to this need is in the intersection of migration and education. The widespread adoption of models that permit the conversion of international students to permanent migrants has emerged in many OECD nations, though clearly waxing and waning along with economic conditions as the UK’s recent situation reveals.

For more information or questions contact Dr. Margaret Walton-Roberts ([email protected])or Dr. Jenna Hennebry ([email protected])

Backgrounder on Immigration Policy Changes and Entry to Practice Routes for Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) Entering Canada

M. Walton-Roberts, K. Williams, J. Guo and J. Hennebry (2014) Policy Points,Issue V.

Every year, about 17,500 internationally-educated nurses (IENs) immigrate to Canada from countries like the Philippines, India, and China. While many IENs would like to practice in Canada, new immigration policies and professional regulations at the federal and provincial level limits their ability to do so. In response, migrants are increasingly using two-step immigration routes to enter the profession (e.g., international student -> permanent economic immigrant) or pursuing alternative careers in health (e.g., Personal Support Worker). These outcomes have significant policy implications for labour force planning in nursing, ethical recruitment for international healthcare workers, the process of migrant workforce integration, and reproduction of migration as a form of gendered development for sending states.  The purpose of this policy points is to summarize our findings from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) knowledge synthesis report on how migrant transition programs intersect with labour force planning in the Canadian nursing sector. We consider the relevance of these issues for employers, regulators, the Canadian health system, and migrants themselves

Living with Others: Fostering Cultural Pluralism through Citizenship Politics

Considerable research to date has focused on accommodating newcomers through official citizenship policies that promote integration through multiculturalism or assimilation. It has also focused on policies that securitize citizenship through restrictive border controls and security measures. Much less research has investigated creative, citizen-led initiatives of civil society organizations within communities. These initiatives seek to circumvent these citizenship policies (multicultural assimilationist or restrictive in nature) in favour of opening communities to newcomers and fostering cultural pluralism in ways that transform understanding about who is a citizen and who belongs to the community. This project investigates why, how, and under what conditions some communities are more open to cultural difference than others; what types of projects facilitate openness to newcomers and how do citizens and non-citizens participate in these projects in ways that transform understandings of citizenship and belonging. Rather than focusing on barriers to integration, the project will contribute to policy relevant scholarship that examines successful community initiatives across several European countries that foster living with cultural plurality and investigates why some communities, rather than acting in reactionary ways, open their doors to newcomers instead.

This is a SSHRC – funded project conducted by IMRC-affiliated faculty member, Dr. Kim Rygiel at Wilfrid Laurier University and Dr. Feyzi Baban, at Trent University.

For more information please contact project leads Dr. Kim Rygiel ([email protected]) or Dr. Feyzi Baban ([email protected])

Comparative Evaluation of Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) and their Role in the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Process

The final stage of the Federal Government’s five step plan was focused on resettlement, the most crucial time with regard to long term resettlement success. However, it is the stage for which Canada is least prepared. LIPs, was introduced by the CIC in 2008. the Initiative was designed to address a number of long standing issues with local settlement policy including the de facto role of municipalities and the disparate relationship between stakeholders involved in the settlement process. The arrival of over 26,000 Syrian refugees presents a pressing need to evaluate the success of LIPs in coordinating complex refugee settlement services and responses with multiple service providers and institutions. This event represents an ideal opportunity to explore how effective LIPs can be in coordinating settlement efforts and to what extent their coordination role can enhance the refugee resettlement process and outcomes. The findings of the comparative study will shed light on LIPs’ strengths and potential in coordinating multi-sectoral stakeholders, and can be used to improve refugee resettlement policies and practices across Canada. The proposed project will enhance dialogue and reflection about the resettlement process both within and between local stakeholders in the communities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Hamilton and beyond.


Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) and their role in the Syrian refugee resettlement process in three Ontario reception centres

French Version: Les partenariats locaux en immigration (PLI) et leur rôle durant la réinstallation des réfugiés syriens dans trois centres de l’Ontario

Scaling-Up Canada’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) Model for Proactive Refugee Resettlement

Waterloo: Local Immigrant Partnerships Role in Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Three Ontario Reception Centres.

Ottawa and the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP/PLIO)

Hamilton: The Local Immigrant Partnerships (LIPs) in Canada

Policy Briefs

Scaling Up Canada’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) Model for Proactive Refugee Resettlement

For more information or questions, please contact the project lead Dr. Margaret Walton-Roberts ([email protected])

IMRC Initiative to Support Syrian Refugees


To mark International Migrants’ Day on December 18th, the IMRC will be raising funds to purchase Grocery Gift cards for Syrian refugee families who have recently settled in our community and are most in need of a little assistance over this winter season. Our partner organization, Bring Back Hope (www.bringbackhope.ca), will connect the IMRC to families in the region in order to deliver Grocery Gift cards. Bring Back Hope is a local coalition working towards raising awareness regarding the Syrian conflict and accompanying flow of refugees. It focuses on building a volunteer network to assist in the resettlement of Syrian refugees  and aims to raise funds in support of refugees in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.

Any donations received beyond our $1000 goal will go towards supporting a refugee scholarship that will be launched by the IMRC and Wilfrid Laurier University this March, 2017.  This scholarship will be announced during the IMRC’s conference focused on the refugee experience titled “Up/Rooted: A Collaborative Community Conference on Refugees and Resettlement”. We will be in touch in the new year with further details.

Click the “Donate Today” button at the bottom of the page to make an online contribution. You can also drop off cash contributions in a clearly marked envelope to the IMRC office at the BSIA, room 241.

On this International Migrants Day, please join us in making a difference to some Syrian refugee families.  We encourage everyone to give generously. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns

Donate today!


Representation, Discourse and Social Politics

Dominant representations emerge over time through discursive practices at individual and societal levels, policies and everyday social communication. Representations in the media and in official government policies and statements have a role in creating opportunities or challenges to migrants themselves and can significantly influence the protection of their human rights. They play an important role in constructing meaning, in shaping social realities and influencing public opinion by “framing images of reality in a predictable and patterned way” (McQuail, 1994). The securitization of migration policy has led to perceptions of migration that emphasizes an “us vs. them” mentality and to greater vulnerability and precarious conditions for migrants, especially women. Social stereotypes that prevail in mass and social media affect not only our perceptions of migrants, but also the way in which migrants behave and perceive themselves. As new forms of media and communication continue to emerge, new research is needed to form an understanding of the representation, discourse, and social politics created. The center focuses its research on representations of war and social trauma, production of social identities with a focus on racialization of gender and intercultural exchange, education and social justice, and tracking flows of discourse influencing both individual and group identities. 



Highlighted Projects

Mobility and Transnationalism

In the 21st century, a shift is increasingly taking place towards understanding individuals by looking beyond what goes on within national boundaries. With increased mobility, the assumption that people will live their lives in one place no longer holds. More and more people will belong to two or more societies at the same time. Adopting a transnational approach to understanding migration provides new insights to understanding basic social institutions.  It examines migrants as individuals embedded in multi-layered, multi-sided transnational social field, involved in meaningful participation in both sending and receiving countries. The character and extent of practices of transnationalism and their impacts are largely unknown within certain aspects of migration. National, international, and bilateral frameworks, such as bilateral labour mobility agreements, can play an integral role in protecting migrant rights in this process. Research by the center has focused on the connection between  gender, migration, seasonal workers and transnationalism, the role of remittances in transnational community formation and maintenance, and the role of the state and community in the nature of transnational relations.


Highlighted Projects