Bronwyn’s research explores the gendered and generational dynamics of immigrant integration and belonging in Canadian cities. In particular, she is interested in the way immigrant status impacts access to services and supports for newcomers in increasingly diverse urban contexts characterized by inequality and austerity.

 
Faculty of Arts
Daniel Joseph Hiebert
Calgary
Canada
UBC Public Scholars Award
 

Research Description

My research explores the complex geographies of settlement and integration for migrants and refugees in Canadian cities. While immigration policy is determined at a national scale, the day-to-day integration experiences of immigrants and refugees to Canada takes place at the local level – in cities, communities and neighbourhoods. Using one neighbourhood in Calgary, Alberta as a case study, my research takes a participatory approach to understanding how immigrant and refugee families navigate the complex geographies of urban life. This work explores how migrant status shapes experiences of citizenship for migrants and refugees, including access to services and support, at the neighbourhood level. My research project has been developed in collaboration with on-going community building and social inclusion efforts taking place at the neighbourhood level.

What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?

Being a public scholar means understanding that the work we produce belongs to a public beyond ourselves and our academic networks. It means producing work that contributes to ongoing conversations at the community, systems and policy-levels. It also means creating research agendas that are informed by the perspectives and input of those we seek to write about.

In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?

The Public Scholars Initiative can play a critical role in helping promote the value and contribution of publicly oriented, community informed research both within and beyond the academe. I think the PSI can help shift the culture within universities to take seriously the role that public scholarship plays in shaping community conversations and public imagination.

How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?

Immigration is a central and ongoing preoccupation of our current political moment. I hope that my PhD will allow me contribute to conversations taking place across geographies about how to better support and empower migrant communities as they reimagine life in a new country. This includes contributing to policy conversations with the goal of making our immigration systems more just, humane and equitable.

How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?

In keeping with the goals of the Public Scholars Initiative, my research project was developed in collaboration with key community partners at the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary (ECCC) and Sunrise Community Link Resource Centre. These partners are working in frontline roles in the Greater Forest Lawn communities supporting residents on the ground. Using participatory methods, the research will give ECCC, Sunrise and other agencies working with newcomers, greater insight into the ways services can best support this community.

How do you hope your work can make a contribution to the “public good”?

Using participatory methods, the research will give community partners working at the neighbourhood level, greater insight into the ways services can best support migrant communities. Specifically, this funding will provide opportunities for community engagement and research with the migrants and refugees living in Forest Lawn. Results of this research will be shared through community forums and workshops. It will add depth and context to the important work already taking place in the community and will provide an avenue for migrants and refugees to add input into the service, program and policy contexts that shape their lives in Calgary, thus contributing in important ways to the public good.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

My decision to return to graduate school was informed by my experiences working as a community-based researcher and advocate with immigrant communities living in Canada. I grew frustrated with the inability to translate research into policy and saw the need to learn more about the policy making process and how to make my work legible to decision makers. Through my PhD I am learning how to more effectively leverage community-based research into the policy decisions.

Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?

The department of geography at UBC has a long tradition of producing critical scholars who work in interdisciplinary contexts. I was excited to join a cohort of students who share my interest in social and spatial dimensions of everyday life and how these are being reshaped in our contemporary political economy.

 

Immigration is a central and ongoing preoccupation of our current political moment. I hope that my PhD will allow me contribute to conversations taking place across geographies about how to better support and empower migrant communities as they reimagine life in a new country.