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Led by by Refugee Law Lab Director Sean Rehaag, and Associate Director Petra Molnar

The project gathers academics, lawyers, and technologists at a Refugee Law Laboratory in a wing of York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies. This Lab will replicate the feel and energy of a law and tech start-up, bringing together researchers with expertise in law, data science, computer programming and statistics to examine the unique and interdisciplinary dimensions of legal analytics and AI in refugee law decision-making. This diverse team will interrogate the under-explored intersection of administrative decision-making and technological developments that have increasingly far-reaching impacts on human lives and human rights. The team will do so by working with one of the most comprehensive databases on refugee adjudication in the world (outside of databases maintained by governments or international organizations), which has been constructed by Professor Rehaag through prior SSHRC funded research, and which will be updated and expanded for this project. Specifically, the project aims to:

  1. create new substantive and methodological knowledge about refugee law decision-making by leveraging legal analytics and AI technologies
  2. explore the human rights implications of these new technologies in an era where those subject to these technologies encounter various intersecting vulnerabilities;
  3. test the viability of a public model for developing and deploying legal analytics and AI in legal decision-making in a way that counters, rather than exacerbates, power imbalances; and,
  4. provide training opportunities for students and emerging scholars who will go on to be leaders in this field.

Led by Prof. Sean Rehaag

Over the past several years, Osgoode Hall Law School Professor and CRS Director Sean Rehaag has collected data through access to information requests on trends in administrative decision-making at the Refugee Protection Division (“RPD”), the Refugee Appeal Division (“RAD”) and at the Federal Court of Canada. He has published articles on his findings which demonstrate that outcomes in refugee adjudication hinge in part on the identity of the adjudicator assigned,[i] that refugee adjudicators are not consistent in their treatment of sexual minority claims,[ii] that refugees represented by experienced lawyers are more likely to obtain refugee protection[iii] and that outcomes in judicial reviews (“JRs”) of refugee claims turn on which judge is assigned to decide the application.[iv] Despite a series of changes at all levels of refugee adjudication, this data has demonstrated that refugee claimants’ success continues to rest on the luck of the draw.[v]

In order to reduce the negative consequences for refugee claimants who have been dealt a bad hand in the luck of the draw and to make the data collected through the research outlined above as useful as possible, the CRS wants to develop an app that will place similar data at refugee lawyers’ fingertips. For example, if a lawyer were arguing a Ugandan sexual minority claim at the RPD, the moment they entered a hearing room and found out which member they were appearing before, they could use the app to pull up data and visual representations regarding the Board Member’s acceptance and refusal rates in similar types of claims. The app would also identify any publicly available RAD or FC cases involving the member’s decisions, and provide CanLII links to those decisions, with filters for particular types of claims. This would allow the lawyer to quickly tailor their strategy to the decision-maker’s record, including whether they should focus their energies on winning the member over or on creating a strong record for appeal. The app could provide similar data on judges at the FC, including metrics about and links to cases that the presiding judge typically relies on in their positive and negative decisions in comparable cases, allowing lawyers to focus their submissions accordingly. We believe that this project is important both because it will help to increase refugee claim success rates and because it will serve to curb the increasing “corporate dominance over digital access to legal information”, ensuring that it is not only the rich and powerful who benefit from advances in legal analytics technology.[vi]


[i] Sean Rehaag, “Troubling Patterns in Canadian Refugee Adjudication” (2008) 39 Ottawa LR 335; Sean Rehaag, "I Simply Do Not Believe: A Case Study of Credibility Determinations in Canadian Refugee Adjudication" (2017) 38 Windsor Rev Legal Soc issues 38; See also Sean Rehaag, "Do Women Refugee Judges Really Make a Difference - An Empirical Analysis of Gender and Outcomes in Canadian Refugee Determinations" (2011) 23:2 CJWL 627.

[ii] Sean Rehaag, “Patrolling the Borders of Sexual Orientation: Bisexual Refugee Claims in Canada” (2008) 53 McGill LJ 59; See also Sean Rehaag, “Sexual Orientation in Canada's Revised Refugee Determination System: An Empirical Snapshot” (2017) 29:2 CJWL 259.

[iii] Sean Rehaag, “The Role of Counsel in Canada’s Refugee Determination System: An Empirical Assessment” (2011) 49 Osgoode Hall LJ 71.

[iv] Sean Rehaag, “Judicial Review of Refugee Determinations: The Luck of the Draw?” (2012) 38 Queen’s LJ 1.

[v] Sean Rehaag, “Judicial Review of Refugee Determinations (II): Revisiting the Luck of the Draw” (2019) 45:1 Queen’s LJ 1.

[vi] Max David King, "Free and Open Access to Legal Resources through CanLII" (2013) 38:1 Can L Libr Rev 18 at 18-19.

Led by Bronwyn Bragg, with co-applicant Jennifer Hyndman

This research addresses the intentional geographies of the Canadian meatpacking industry and the lives of former refugees, now Canadian permanent residents, who do this precarious work.

The meatpacking industry relies on a mostly immigrant workforce composed of many former refugees (StatCan, 2016), many of whom work in large meat processing facilities located in small Canadian communities. Our goal is to assess how location, refugee-migration background, and work in meatpacking are linked, and in turn, to identify how these links impact access to services and supports, community inclusion and participation, and feelings of security and belonging for former refugees to Canada. There is an increasing policy focus in promoting immigrant and refugee settlement to smaller centres (Gov of Canada, 2021). The research explores the geographic relationship between smaller places, possibilities for newcomer integration, and Canadian immigration policy. This project builds on a 2020 research project funded by a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant. Using survey and interview data, the 2020 project used virtual methods to canvass conditions in meatpacking plants that rendered im/migrant and refugee workers vulnerable to difficult, dirty and dangerous (3D) work, and COVID19.

The current project shifts focus to the broader social, economic and political relations in the local contexts in which meatpacking workers are embedded. As such, the proposed work seeks to document social and economic conditions to trace social integration across three locations. We contend that these geographies of social integration may vary by city size and the services, allies and job opportunities afforded by each site.


Led by Prof. James Milner at Carleton University, along with CRS co-applicants Profs. Jennifer Hyndman, Dagmar Soennecken and Christopher Kyriakides along with partners across Canada, USA, Kenya, Lebanon, Jordan, Australia and Tanzania.

LERRN is funded through a SSHRC Partnership Grant which runs from 2018 to the end of 2025.

LERRN is comprised of a team of researchers and practitioners committed to promoting protection and solutions with and for refugees. Their goal is to ensure that refugee research, policy and practice are shaped by a more inclusive, equitable and informed collective engagement of civil society. Through collaborative research, training, and knowledge-sharing, they aim to improve the functioning of the global refugee regime and ensure more timely protection and rights-based solutions for refugees. Their work is focused in the global South, which hosts 85% of the world’s refugees, and responds to the needs and opportunities identified by their partners in major refugee-hosting countries.

As one of the foci of the project is to amplify the voices of refugee communities in the Global South, LERRN researchers at York have been engaged in a variety of activities to date, including:

The LERRN project has also produced articles in media, videos and other materials in order to mobilize and popularize the knowledge produced by its researchers:

Led by Prof. Yvonne Su

LGBT Venezuelan refugees are one of the most vulnerable and overlooked groups in one of the largest and most underfunded crises in modern history. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 5.4 million people have left Venezuela due to violence, persecution and poverty, and the number of Venezuelans seeking refuge worldwide has increased by 8,000 per cent since 2014 (UNHCR, 2020). Many have fled to neighbouring Colombia and Brazil, which automatically grant refugee status to Venezuelan asylum seekers. However, protection gaps, poor funding as well as political and social tensions mean LGBT folks face unprecedented levels of homophobia, xenophobia, extreme violence and exploitation in their place of refuge (IOM, 2020; Valiquette, Su and Felix, 2020). Yet, an unlikely beacon of hope lies in the middle of the Amazon, at Casa Miga, Brazil’s only LGBT refugee centre. And in the border city of Cúcuta in Colombia, where La Casa que Abraza (The House that Hugs), provides a safe space for Venezuelan LGBT refugees in a region still facing insecurity from the country’s internal armed conflict. Both centres are run by LGBT people for LGBT people with the aim to provide services and assistance to LGBT refugees. But despite the significance of the essential service these institutions are
providing, they remain scarce, underfunded and understudied. The aim of this study is to shine a light on the significance of peer-to-peer support for Venezuelan LGBT refugees in Brazil and Colombia. The expected outcome is a comparison of the international, national, and local response that can illuminate the benefits and limitations of local responses like Casa Miga and La Casa que Abraza. The objectives of this research are to:

  1. Explore Global South-led humanitarian responses to the Venezuelan refugee crisis, and
  2. Compare international, national, and local responses to Venezuelan LGBT refugees in Colombia and Brazil amid COVID19

Led by Prof. Sean Rehaag

This project examines the legal and humanitarian implications of Canada’s use of executive powers to close the Canadian border to refugees. It also considers legal and policy strategies to ensure that responses to COVID-19 do not come at the expense of asylum seeker’s rights.

Led by Prof. Craig Damian Smith

This project brings together Political Science, Economics, and Migration Studies with civil society to examine pressing scholarly, policy, and social questions around refugee integration.

The Syrian refugee crisis has left governments and organizations in need of evidence-based policy for facilitating newcomer integration. Many states are considering adopting a version of Canada’s unique private sponsorship model, which allows groups of citizens to financially and legally support refugees who have been recommended for resettlement by UNHCR. The search for new models is a response to increasing anti-refugee sentiment, and specifically public opinion against government expenditure on large-scale influxes. Public opinion in Canada, on the other hand, remains largely in favor of resettling refugees given that private citizens play an active role in the resettlement process. Privately-Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) also have better integration outcomes than Government Assisted Refugees (GAR).

GARs are recommended for resettlement based almost exclusively on criteria of vulnerability. They have lower literacy rates, lower professional status, and less proficiency with Canada’s official languages. Whereas PSRs arrive to a dedicated sponsorship group, GARs rely almost exclusively on settlement case workers for support. In Toronto, the average case load per worker is around 70 families. GARs thus experience a dual barrier to integration.

While there is strong anecdotal evidence that social networks contribute to better integration, causal mechanisms are not well understood. We propose a randomized experiment to evaluate the impact of increased social ties between recently-resettled GARs and established Canadians. We work with a unique dataset and cohort of respondents through the Together Project.

The Together Project, based in Toronto, is a nonprofit civil society organization matches GARs with “Welcome Groups”, of five or more Canadians, emulating the social network support of the private sponsorship model, but with refugees who have already arrived. Because of the high number of new arrivals, not all GARs can be matched. We work in partnership with Together Project and the Munk School to implement a randomized design to select study participants for matching. By comparing those who are selected to those who are not, we will measure the causal impact of social ties on integration metrics including employment, language, education, and civic engagement. We will also examine the impact of the quality of social ties. Together Project makes its matches using a preference-ranking tool, not unlike a dating algorithm. A good match between GARs and Welcome Groups may be an important determinant of successful integration. We will collect data on outcomes one year after arrival in Canada.

This study has important policy implications. Private sponsorship may have benefits relative to government sponsorship, but it also may generate externalities in terms of negative perception of relatively lower-performing GARs. Our project will provide important evidence to policymakers as they consider the costs associated with resettlement options, and other governments and organizations who might consider replicating it. Second, our project can identify newcomers who benefit most from social networks, or the types of social network dynamics that positively affect the most cases. A long-term, rigorous analysis offers the opportunity to study these dynamics in real time. Finally, findings can show whether volunteerism can strengthen social ties for new arrivals and whether this leads to improved integration, and whether Canada’s two track resettlement model creates two tiered integration outcomes.

Led by Prof. Craig Damian Smith

This project seeks to understand complex global processes leading to new intercontinental mixed migration flows to Latin America. The objectives are to build a comprehensive global dataset of Global North state visa acceptance rates, asylum statistics, refugee resettlement statistics, and mixed migration flows to understand correlations between ease of access to regular international migration and changes in global mixed migration routes.


Led by Prof. Michaela Hynie

This research will compare how government-assisted refugee (GAR) and private-sponsored refugee (PAR) resettlement programs support long-term social integration pathways for refugees and the impact of these pathways on physical and mental health. Research will take place over a five-year period. Resettled refugees have poorer health than host populations, and studies show that social integration affects wellness; however, there is a lack of research examining how the experiences of settlement and integration contribute to the long-term health of refugees.“ Canada’s private sponsorship program for resettled refugees is unique in the world, and is of considerable interest to other countries, but its effectiveness relative to government sponsorship is largely unknown,” said Hynie. “This grant is an important opportunity for us to understand how, and under what conditions, the different resettlement programs in Canada support the long-term health and well-being of resettled refugees in Canada, and to gain a deeper understanding of the social determinants of refugee health.”

Led by Prof. Michaela Hynie

The goal of this project is to support access to more equitable, effective and appropriate virtual mental health services for refugee newcomers across Canada. Anxiety about COVID-19 is high and is negatively impacting mental health (Galea, Merchant, & Lurie, 2020). Immigrants report more COVID-related anxiety than other Canadians (LaRochelle-Cote & Uppal, 2020) and are more likely to be high-risk essential workers (Turcotte & Savage, 2020). Among immigrants, refugees may be the most vulnerable to elevated distress, while also facing the greatest cultural and structural barriers in accessing mental health services (Byrow et al., 2020). Identifying and addressing the accessibility of mental health care for this population will benefit all immigrants, who often share some, if not all, of the same risk factors and barriers.

Led by  Dr. Antonio Sorge

This project examines the dynamics of an encounter among Italian-Canadian return migrants, refugees from the global south, and refugee rights advocates in rural Sicily. The research site is Cattolica Eraclea, a rural town in southeastern Sicily where property seized from the Mafia has been used to offer work and housing to refugees who have been resettled locally. At the same time, Italian-Canadian return migrants, primarily organized within the “Association Cattolica Eraclea,” a community and business association in Montreal, have over the past two decades settled and created a transnational dynamic in their town of origin or ancestry. This research will produce insights into an emergent vision of Sicily as a culturally hybrid zone defined by a history of cross-border flows, reflecting a process whereby Sicilians actively seek to recentre the Mediterranean Sea as the fount of the island’s cosmopolitan identity. The articulation of such a vision of Sicily is noteworthy within the context of the current clampdown on migration at the behest of a populist rightwing coalition government in Italy. As a site of both return migration and refugee resettlement, the town of Cattolica Eraclea offers the ideal location to examine this question.

Led by Prof. Ozgun Topak

This project examines the refugee vetting process. It examines the complex intersections between surveillance and humanitarianism and analyzes how, extreme surveillance practices, perhaps paradoxically, expands and becomes normalized through humanitarian initiatives such as refugee resettlement.

Led by Prof. Ranu Basu

Website: Geopolitics, Subalterity in Education and Welfare Cities (

This internationally-based research project examines a striking triangular link between Toronto, Canada and two cities in the global South (Kolkata, India and Havana, Cuba) to produce a timely new analysis of the interrelationship between the quality of state-based education, the subalterity of displaced migrants, and implications which these issues have for the urban public realm. State funded public education, long valued as a critical tool for reducing inequality, promoting economic mobility and advocating for social justice, can have an ongoing transformative effect on the evolution of the public realm. The ideologies, policies and practices of state-funded education distinctly shape various aspects of social justice, including the way urban spaces are produced and contested by those most vulnerable. Adopting a human rights approach, especially for subaltern communities with unique needs and vulnerabilities, has never been more critical in an era of continued neoliberal restructuring which is simultaneously characterized by global unrest, conflict, violence and increased mobility. This project is of particular relevance in reassessing Canada’s role in the global debates on public education as a transformative practice for social mobility and peace building.

Led by Prof. Christopher Kyriakides

This project will facilitate a co-created study of racism and refuge which centralizes refugees' lived experience in Canada. Scholars and Community Organizers from project partners, York University/Center for Refugee Studies, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services, The Ethiopian Association of the Greater Toronto Area, The Syrian Canadian Foundation, The Oromo Canadian Community Association, working with colleagues from Wilfred Laurier University's Tshepo Institute for Contemporary African Studies and McMaster University, will collaboratively action the research, governance, and knowledge mobilization activities for this partnership.

Led by Prof. Christopher Kyriakides

Focusing on the 'Syrian refugee crisis,' this two-year project investigates the impact of refugee reception discourses on the intra/inter-ethnic identities of Syrian-origin citizens resident in Canada and the United States. Refugee reception discourse is public speech (written or oral) which may stereotype
refugees as mistrusted national others. The project examines the effects of 'Syrian refugee' stereotypes on Syrian-origin Canadian and American citizens.

Led by Prof. Saptarishi Bandopadhyay

The controversial category of ‘environmental refugees’ threatens to overwhelm existing refugee protection frameworks directed at victims of political persecution. According to the UN, in 2018, some 17.2 million people in 148 countries were displaced by disasters. As things stand, political efforts,
legal frameworks, and scientific governance policies are failing to address the problem. States routinely deny legal protection to environmental refugees by viewing them as victims of environmental degradation and ‘natural’ disasters rather than of political persecution. This is a powerful master narrative that has been normalized by governmental declarations, expert analyses, political rhetoric, and media reports. By contrast, recent scholarship has shown, Climate Change will produce vicious cycles of armed conflict, political persecution, and environmental collapse around the world.

The project's primary objective is to produce an interdisciplinary history of this crisis that will critically examine this master narrative segregating ‘nature’ and ‘politics’ to explain when and why it emerged, who it serves, and how it has contributed to the present displacement crisis.

Led by Hassan Shire

DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) was established as a regional non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Uganda in 2005, following an extensive field research- the Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, supported by the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, Canada. The research sought to strengthen the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Africa by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution through enhancing HRDs’ capacity for effectiveness in defending human rights.

The overall research findings included: insufficient collaboration among human rights organisations heightening during repressive regimes, forcing HRDs to flee outside the continent during crises; resource constraints limiting the effectiveness of HRDs; knowledge and skill gaps on existing human rights instruments and mechanisms; and the need for broader support by the international community.

Against this background, DefendDefenders was established to promote the safety, security, and wellbeing of HRDS in the East and Horn of Africa sub region (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia together with Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda). It envisions a region in which the rights of every individual as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are respected and upheld. To achieve its core mandate, DefendDefenders focuses its work on protection and security management, capacity building, technology enhancement, advocacy, research, and communications. DefendDefenders establishes and supports national coalitions of HRDs in its mandate countries to claim their rights and space at national level.

DefendDefenders focuses its advocacy initiatives at the regional and international level and has since 2009 and 2012 had observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and special consultative status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council respectively. This enables the organisation to engage with the respective human rights bodies and their mechanisms consistently and deeply. In 2018, DefendDefenders established an office in Geneva, Switzerland to enhance international advocacy and strengthen HRDs’ engagement with the UN human rights system including the UN Human Rights Council.

DefendDefenders serves as the secretariat of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net) and AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network). Together, the network members aim to protect and support HRDs, and to ensure structured coordination and cooperation between human rights actors across the continent.

Contact person

Hassan Shire

Executive Director, DefendDefenders

Chairperson, AfricanDefenders




Led by Prof. Jennifer Hyndman

The overall aim of the project is to produce and share new knowledge about private refugee sponsorship in Canada. Since March 2016, and at the September 2016 UN Summit in New York City on refugees and migrants, the federal government has committed to ‘exporting’ its expertise about Canada’s unique private resettlement program for refugees. At present, however, very little is known about what characteristics of place and people are correlated with and sustain ongoing sponsorship by private citizens, whether in cities and more rural areas. This project will fill a gap in the scholarly literature, but will also have several applications in policy and practice. In 2016, Canada is expected to resettle 44,800 refugees (Casasola, 2016), more than ever before in a single year; almost half of these will be privately-sponsored in whole or part.

Led by Prof. Andrea Emberly and Postdoctoral Fellow Kael Reid

Singing Our Stories amplifies the voices of refugee and newcomer children and young people experiencing displacement, migration, and settlement. This project responds to the fact that refugee children and youth face substantial discriminatory assumptions about their experiences, positionalities, and lives that are actualized as systemic barriers to their settlement and, ultimately, their wellbeing. Music is key to disrupting these barriers because it provides a tangible and creative way for young people to reclaim and tell their own stories and share insight into their own lived experiences. Partnering with Canadian refugee settlement agencies COSTI and CultureLink, international research leaders in the field of applied community music, and global research sites, Singing Our Stories mobilizes arts- and music- based program delivery as a means to support wellbeing goals that can only be achieved through understanding, acknowledging, centering, and investing in the lived experiences of refugee children and youth. Empowering creativity through networked community music making, group singing, and songwriting across refugee communities in Canadian and transnational contexts, this partnership uses music to speak-back and voice-up against systemic racism, ageism, discrimination, and marginalization. COSTI and CultureLink lead this project in identifying how policies around program delivery and refugee services are based on assumptive and discriminatory ideologies about refugee children’s experiences. Often silenced by service organizations, governments, and adult-driven policies that characterize them as voiceless and powerless victims, refugee children and young people can use their lived knowledge and stories to teach others, activate social change, and regain power by building networks, articulating personal voice, and expressing musical agency. The significance of this partnership is its immediate benefit for the children and youth involved in the project and for the partner organizations. By mobilizing youth and community-based knowledge for cultural and policy change, this project is a model for community-engaged research that has global significance for children and young people facing
displacement and settlement, and society at large. This collaboration is unique and meaningful in adopting an approach to music program delivery that provides space for young people to compose, create, and connect with other refugee communities around the world.

Led by Dr. Kathryn Dennler

This project uses mixed methods research, drawing on data from federal agencies, government documents about deportation of refused refugee claimants, and interviews with refugee lawyers and consultants who have experience contesting deportations. The goal is to investigate deportations of refused refugee claimants: the steps involved in the deportation process, the risks and opportunities at each step, and the success rates of legal remedies to deportation. The findings will be shared with service providers, advocates, and refused refugee claimants.

Led by Prof. Sean Rehaag, co-applicant Francisco Rico-Martinez, FCJ Refugee Centre

When parents are forced to flee or choose to migrate to Canada, their children have no choice but to accompany them. Many such youth grow up in Canada with precarious immigration status, attending primary and secondary school and sharing educational and professional dreams with their Canadian citizen and permanent resident peers. Unfortunately, when they graduate from high school, many precarious status youth are blocked from pursuing their dreams due to formal and informal barriers to post-secondary education.

In the United States, governments and post-secondary schools have responded to the activism of undocumented students, popularly known as "Dreamers", by passing laws and creating programs and clinics to address the unique challenges faced by those students. In Canada, however, few post-secondary schools or provinces have taken steps to ensure access to post-secondary education. The exception is York University, where, in partnership with the FCJ Refugee Centre (FCJ), the University introduced a Pilot Bridging Program designed to provide precarious status students with a path to post-secondary education.

By working closely with students enrolled in this program and with other precarious status youth who are seeking to pursue a post-secondary education, this project aims to assist FCJ in deciding how to best advocate to create additional paths to post-secondary education, and to then leverage this education to secure permanent residence status (PR) for enrolled students.

The project will:

a. produce an article examining York's program and considering opportunities to replicate that program at other universities and colleges (including addressing barriers related to the legal grey zone in which this program operates);

b. engage in public media interventions advocating for expanded access to postsecondary education for precarious status youth; and

c. explore a possible model for providing immigration law counsel to students in such programs by working with university based legal clinics (including by creating a toolkit to assist precarious status students in regularizing their immigration status).

This project is being pursued as a partnership between the Applicant, who is the Director of York University's Centre for Refugee Studies (and who is also an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School) and FCJ, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist refugees and other
precarious status people in re-establishing their lives and integrating into Canadian society. The project is a direct response to the FCJ's Youth Network, which has called for partners to "support existing efforts that are aimed at increasing access for precarious immigration status youth in post-secondary
institutions" (FCJ Youth Network, 2016b).

In the words of our partner organization, "[w]e are working towards a day when colleges and universities in Canada act more like sanctuaries for precarious status students than like border guards."

Led by Prof. Sean Rehaag, co-applicant Prof. Benjamin Perryman (University of New Brunswick) and collaborator Air Passenger Rights (APR)

This project will increase understanding about how the eTA enables overseas racial profiling and how eTA revocations are linked to refugee interdiction.

The project will:

  1. Produce an open-access article examining the operation of the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and considering how Canada racially profiles travellers to prevent refugees from reaching safety. This will be the first article to consider the eTA since it was implemented.
  2. Research and draft complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination to show how eTA-enabled racial profiling practices breach international law.
  3. Bring public attention to the eTA, the use of new border technologies to racially profile, and the fact that Canada works to intercept refugees on the basis of their race through an op-ed and strategic media engagement.

Led by Prof. Jennifer Hyndman along with co-investigator Bronwyn Bragg, Postdoctoral Fellow

This SSHRC Partnership Engagement Grant seeks to unpack the links between the migration status of meatpackers and their experience of COVID-19. This project has three objectives:

  1. To produce new knowledge about the intersection of immigration and temporary migration policies and the health and safety of immigrant and migrant ‘essential’ workers.
  2. To identify the specific manifestations and impact of COVID-19 on immigrant and migrant workers in the meatpacking industry in Southern Alberta.
  3. To identify possible strategies, opportunities and challenges related to improving the health context of workers in meatpacking.

Read the report: "No Safe Place" Documenting the migration status and employment conditions of workers in Alberta’s meatpacking industry during the pandemic

Led by Dr. Craig Smith

This is a study exploring relationships between refugee legal aid, quality of counsel, the fairness and efficiency of asylum procedures, and access to justice for refugee claimants in Canada.

The final report is available here:

Led by Prof. Luann Good Gingrich

This study aims to measure social exclusion – in particular its intersecting, multidimensional, and relational dynamics – with the imperative to devise a meaningful and practical conception of social inclusion for policy formulation and service delivery. In close consultation with collaborators from three community partners (City of Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, and Caledon Institute), the PI and the two academic co-applicants are using secondary quantitative analysis of complex, large-scale datasets, informed by qualitative exploration, to achieve the following specific objectives: to measure the economic, spatial, and socio-political forms of social exclusion; to analyze how these forms of exclusion interact and reinforce one another; to examine social dynamics defined by race/ethnicity, immigrant status, age, gender, and sexuality, with regional comparisons; to detect mitigating factors and strategies; and to translate findings to facilitate targeted social policies and improved ground-level practice.

Led by Prof. Sean Rehaag in partnership with FCJ Refugee Centre

This project aims to assist FCJ in deciding how to best advocate to create additional paths to post-secondary education, and to then leverage this education to secure permanent residence status (PR) for enrolled students by working closely with students enrolled in this program and with other precarious status youth who are seeking to pursue a post-secondary education.

Led by Prof. Yvonne Su

The objective of this research and partnership is to understand the social impact of COVID-19 on Venezuelan LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex) asylum seekers in Brazil and explore possible policies and practices in the humanitarian sector that would build resilience to future crises.

Led by Prof. Yvonne Su

The objective of this research and partnership with the Redemptorist Church (also known as the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish) is to answer their questions: What are the most pressing needs of disaster-affected people living in resettlement sites in Tacloban City, Philippines confronted with COVID-19 and community quarantine measures and how can those be best addressed in anticipation of subsequent waves of the pandemic? In partnership with the Redemptorist Church, one of the most established churches in Tacloban, known for its mission to serve the poor and the role it played in sheltering 360 families during Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, this project will enable the Church to collect much needed data on the impact of COVID-19 on disaster-affected households in resettlement sites. Working directly with disaster-affected households, this project will produce recommendations for a grassroots and inclusive response to mitigating risk and building resilience for future waves of the pandemic in resettlement areas. This new research partnership will support the Church in fulfilling their mission of helping those most in need and advocate for disaster-affected households in the resettlement sites who have largely been ignored in the local and national governments' COVID-19 response and that of humanitarian organizations. Abandoned by these institutions, desperate residents have turned to the Church for help but they lack the data necessary to direct their limited resources towards the most pressing needs of disaster-affected people. This project will help fill that gap.

Led by Prof. Luin Goldring

People living "in the shadows" without authorized immigration status in Canada are not considered part of the Canadian national community or population, and there is no effort to include them in national population counts or planning (Landolt et al. 2019). Existing research on non-status people in Canada confirms that many live in crowded housing (Paradis et al. 2014), have limited access to healthcare (Hynie et al. 2016; Landolt 2019), and work in low-wage jobs with poor working conditions (Magalhaes et al. 2010; Landolt & Goldring 2013; Foster & Luciano 2020). However, we know little about how non-status persons in the GTA are faring under the current pandemic, or how racialization and gender are intersecting with immigration status to compound vulnerability. As a result, we have limited data to inform advocacy and public health outreach to mitigate the effects of the pandemic for this and other vulnerable populations. This project will contribute research that can inform public health decision-making, service provision and advocacy that includes non-status people as part of the local population.

Website: If you've made a refugee claim, you need to :: Meet Gary

Led by Dr. Hilary Evans Cameron, the goal of the project was to increase the accessibility of an English-language website that provides key legal information to refugee claimants. The website’s text was viewed by an editor who specializes in drafting ‘plain language’ legal education materials, and then the site was translated into the four other languages spoken by the majority of refugee claimants in Canada.

Website: Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) – Making educational programs available where refugees need them

The Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project aimed to make educational programs available where refugees need them. In the Global South there are currently some 15.2 million people caught in refugee situations, often for ten years or more as an outcome of war, human rights violations, and/or persecution in their home countries. Attending university or accessing other tertiary degree programs has been almost impossible. CRS faculty Wenona Giles and Don Dippo led this project.

Website: Syria Response and Refugee Initiative (2015-2019)

In 2015 the University launched its Syria Response and Refugee Initiative, led by a project team of students and recent York graduates until its conclusion in April, 2019. The project was hosted and strongly supported by the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) and its staff since its inception, with financial support from the Provost’s Office and Osgoode Hall Law School. Both the Osgoode and CRS communities generously shared their time, facilities, knowledge and resources with the SRRI’s staff and project participants, while the entire campus mobilized behind sponsorship and other efforts.

Read the final report

Website: Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Canada

A web archive offering a documented commentary on the most recent addition to the Canadian resettlement scheme, the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program in the context of Syrian refugee resettlement in Canada.

Website: Refugee Research Network

The Refugee Research Network (RRN)was created to mobilize and sustain a Canadian and international network of researchers and research centres committed to the study of refugee and forced migration issues and to engaging policy makers and practitioners in finding solutions to the plight of refugees and displaced persons. This initiative built on previous efforts towards establishing a global network of researchers in the field of refugee and forced migration studies funded by the Canadian SSHRC Knowledge Cluster program. Prof. Susan McGrath C.M. led this project.

Final Project Report

Website: Forced Migration and Big Data

This two-year research project brought together a unique interdisciplinary network of leading social and computer scientists from three universities (York, Wilfrid Laurier and Georgetown) working with humanitarian experts (including UNHCR Canada and CARE Canada) to improve humanitarian
responses to displaced people. Using ‘big data’ about Iraq drawn from Georgetown’s vast, unstructured archive of over 700 million extended open-source media articles (EOS) supplemented with other data sources including qualitative interview data of humanitarian workers, the main objective was to refine computer analytic tools and theories of migration to identify early indicators of forced displacement. Being able to anticipate who is being displaced and to where will assist humanitarian actors in planning for and responding to their needs. Ideally, the displacement can be prevented; however, an early warning can possibly provide safe corridors for escape and facilitate the effective and efficient pre-positioning of shelter and basic supplies to improve the conditions of those fleeing. Prof. Susan McGrath C.M. was the lead on this project.

International social work education has become a priority among Canadian schools of social work and one of the strategies to achieve this goal is the development of joint research ventures. This research partnership was a joint venture among three Canadian Universities and the National University Rwanda that will promote professional social work education and practice in Rwanda and inform global social work practices, knowledge and curricula. The expected outcomes included the generation of new social work knowledge that incorporates indigenous knowledge and methods with international social work theory and practice; the building and strengthening of partnerships between and among Canadian and Rwandan institutions, practitioners and researchers; the local support of social work practice and education; and, finally, the improvement of the well-being of the people of Rwanda. This project contributed to an emerging body of knowledge in Canadian concerning social work engagement in a globalized world. As such, it helped to inform current issues and debates pertaining to the indigenization of social work knowledge which has direct implications for developing post-colonial social work practice with Aboriginal peoples in Canada and the social inclusion of immigrants and refugees in our context as well as applications of best practice as part of international partnerships. Prof. Susan McGrath C.M. was the lead on this project.

Website: The Indochinese Refugee Movement 1975-80 and the Launch of Canada's Private Refugee Sponsorship Program – Conference

The Centre for Refugee Studies and the Canadian Immigration Historical Society are working together on a multi-pronged project that will review the historic significance and contemporary relevance of the 1975-80 resettlement of Indochinese refugees though the Private Sponsorship Program. This initiative was led by Prof. James C. Simeon.

Website: Critical Issues in International Refugee Law (CIIRL) II

The Critical Issues in International Refugee Law Research Workshop was part of the “Refugee Law” Research Clusters of the Refugee Research Network (RRN), led by Prof. James C. Simeon.  It brought together distinguished Superior and High court judges, legal scholars, leading academics as well as senior governmental and international organizations officials, specifically from the UNHCR, but also other UN agencies, and other interested parties, to consider a limited number of critical issues in international refugee law.

Website: CARFMS – ORTT

The Online Research and Teaching Tools website provides the public at large with easy and ready access with the information, methods and techniques required in order to excel in both their research and teaching in the interdisciplinary field of refugee and forced migration studies.

Website: Centre for Social Work Education and Practice – Synthesizing Local & International Social Work Practice in Rwanda

This research project, led by Prof. Susan McGrath C.M. built on an established partnership of Rwandan and Canadian Schools of Social Work that share a commitment to social justice and university/community collaborations.