A Tale of Three Mid-sized Cities: The Syrian Refugee Resettlement and a Progressive Sense of Place
Friday, Oct. 11, 3-4 p.m.
Blue Box Seminar. Dr. Margaret Walton Roberts, Professor, School of International Policy and Governance, The Balsillie School of International Affairs, will speak.
How did communities respond to the Syrian refugee resettlement initiative (SRRI) in 2015-16 in Ontario’s mid-sized cities, and what lessons can we learn from the experience? This chapter explores these questions based on a comparative research project that examined Syrian refugee resettlement in the mid-sized cities of Hamilton, Ottawa and Waterloo in the province of Ontario. We use Doreen Massey’s idea of a progressive sense of place to understand how these communities responded to the SRRI, and the process of becoming and recalibration that occurred in communities exhibiting what we consider a progressive sense of place. First we explore how these communities mobilized resources by drawing upon historical features of a progressive sense of place as both narrative and guide for how to respond to the resettlement demands. Second, we detail how the scope of the Syrian refugee resettlement process resulted in new players entering the resettlement space, which presented benefits and challenges to maintaining ideals of community response. Third, the community more broadly became an important participant in the process of welcoming refugees, and this seeming generosity itself had to be managed, because one of the emerging downsides of the positive community response was the perception and reality of inequity in the resources provided to Syrian versus other refugees, the power-geometries evident in this event. Finally, despite the many challenges that emerged for these communities during the intensity of the SRRII, we argue the event contributed to the creation of a progressive sense of place, as more collaborative community networks with a renewed emphasis on refugee resettlement needs emerged.
Presented by Department of Geography