Team Building research meeting for SSHRC-PG on African immigrant

This research meeting took place May 16 – 19, 2019. View the Conference Program (pdf)


Collection of images showcasing an African-Canadian models hairstyles and clothing
Phil Okeke-Ihejirika
Director of PACE

On behalf of the Pan African Collaboration for Excellence (PACE) and the University of Alberta community, I welcome you all to what I hope will be an engaging, dynamic and insightful scholarly experience over the next two days.

As an academic hub that encourages research and teaching on emerging social issues, the University of Alberta supports the study of gender relations within immigrant communities. PACE exemplifies this mandate; it embraces interdisciplinary, international initiatives between scholars, policymakers, service providers and communities that are increasingly sought for research and scholarly output, graduate training and community engagement related to Africans globally.

Developing a SSHRC Partnership Grant proposal is a major under taking, but one that is urgent and timely for the study of Africans in transnational contexts. In Canada, Africans constitute one of the fastest growing groups of immigrants and are spread across four major provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Despite their growing numbers, this emerging population remains largely under – researched. Gaps in knowledge about gender relations within these immigrant families undermine the capacity of service providers and policy makers to assist them. In the African continent, there are equally acute gaps in knowledge about migration, particularly the international streams. Our aim is to generate relevant information and strategies for enhancing life before, during and after migration for the mutual benefit of Canada and African immigrant sending countries.

I look forward to your contributions which I’m sure have implications for research both on gender relations as well as on other relevant domains of immigrant life.

Phil Okeke-Ihejirika
Director of PACE


Research findings that enhance immigrants’ and refugees’ (henceforth “immigrants”) adaptation to Canadian life are crucial, as Canada relies on newcomers for population growth, labour supply, and cultural diversity. Successful adaptation is important to newcomers who, in turn, see this country as a haven where they can find economic opportunities. In 2016, at 7.7 million, immigrants reached a century-high record of almost 22% of Canada’s total population. By 2036, they could constitute 30% of all Canadians. Most recent immigrants come from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, with African immigrants constituting one of the newest and fastest growing population of newcomers to Canada. From a mere 1.9% in 1970,3 the population of immigrants from Africa rose to 13.4% in 2016, with the continent becoming the “second-most important source of new immigrants.”

However, we know very little about African immigrants’ experiences as newcomers to Canada—specifically, the challenges they face and their strategies to boost their resilience to successfully rebuild their lives. We proceed with a definition of resilience as the capacity to cope with or overcome challenges in adverse situations. Thus, resilience results from the interplay between individual and environmental factors and emerges as a pattern of positive adaptation arising from interactions within a context of significant adversity.

This outreach seeks to expand our scale of knowledge production and mobilization aimed at enhancing Sub-Saharan African immigrants’ capacity to rebuild their lives and become fully functioning members of their new society – through the active involvement all stakeholders. Our main objective are:

  • To actively engage African communities and relevant stakeholders across Canada as knowers and knowledge end-users
  • To generate culturally effective findings that will inform policy and practice
  • To consider promising comparative analysis with data from other settlement countries, such as Australia and New Zealand
  • To provide a unique graduate training opportunity to students with research interests in immigrant experiences
  • To build a strong academic–community research team that will continue to explore the connections between resilience and sub-Saharan African immigrant families’ capacity to live in Canada. Our intention is that these reciprocal relationships will coalesce into a SSHRC-PG team

Although our outreach is spearheaded by the Pan African Collaboration for Excellence (PACE), we will build on other initiatives already underway such as the 2019 Black History Month (February). Founded by the principal applicant, PACE is a University of Alberta (U of A)-based multi-disciplinary, international forum for scholars and other stakeholders with a shared interest in improving the well-being of Africans globally. She holds a cluster grant awarded by U of A’s Kule Institute for Advanced Studies (Okeke-Ihejirika, KIAS 2018–2021), which will provide a sizeable matching grant for the outreach activities. We have also received support from other entities within and outside the U of A.

Presentations (event order)

Opening Remarks

Dr. Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika

Community-based collaborative approaches towards psychosocial wellness after conflict-related trauma, migration and settlement

Presented by Sophie Yohani

Socio-musical resonance: a powerful, sustainable technology for social resilience among migrants and refugees

Presented by Michael Frishkopf

Migration Trends and Patterns in the past Decade

Presented by Fisseha Gebremedhin

Where are you from? Home and belonging for second-generation African-Canadians

Presented by Gillian Creese

Reconceptualizing context: The role of origin and destination society for the trajectories children of immigrants

Presented by Thomas Soehl

Keynote: Systemic Resilience

Presented by Michael Ungar

Transnational Refugee Settlement: Integration and Social Media

Presented by Jay Marlowe

Belonging in the Land Down Under: The Experiences of African-background Humanitarian Entrants

Presented by Farida Fozdar

African immigrants in America – recognizing & utilizing our strengths

Presented by Adeyinka Akinsulure-Smith

Harnessing Cultural Resources for Proper Integration into a Host Community: The Case of Ghanaian Immigrants in Canada

Presented by Delali Badasu

African Immigrants’ Resilience in Transnational Contexts: Exploring the Contributions of Pre-migration and Home Links

Presented by Ike Odimegwu

Sustainable injustice: Exploring the Settler Colonial State Apparatus through the experiences of African Canadian Women

Presented by Thashika Pillay

Restructuring Gender Relations: A Prerequisite for Building Resilient African Immigrant Families

Presented by Dr. Philomina Okeke-Ihejirika & Natalie Rzeszutek

Special Thanks to:

On behalf of the Pan-African Collaboration for Excellence (PACE), Dr.Okeke-Ihejirika, Dr.Bukola, Dr. Salami and Dr.Frishkopf would like to thank all of those who have participated and supported this research
meeting. We especially acknowledge our guests and scholars who have dedicated time and resources towards this initiative. Finally we thank the funders, community members, students and volunteers who have made this possible.

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