Monthly Archives: March 2013

Check out The Centre for Imaginative Ethnography!

As we use it, the term “imaginative” refers to a recognition of imagination and creativity as central and significant in human social relations, and a commitment to open-ended inquiry that can embrace risks, challenges to orthodoxy, and unintended outcomes.

Read more …


Encounters in Canada: Contrasting Indigenous and Immigrant Perspectives

MAY 15–17, 2013

Chestnut Conference Centre

89 Chestnut Street
Toronto, ON
M5G 1R1

The conference website can be viewed at

For directions, please visit this link:

To register online, please click HERE

Indigenous peoples are the original caretakers of Canada, but their encounters with settlers have been marred by assimilation and territorial dispossession over hundreds of years. The result has been significant alienation between Indigenous peoples and Canadian governments. Conversely, immigrants to Canada, which for the purposes of this conference include early colonists, recent immigrants, refugees and displaced persons, have often viewed the country as a haven or land of opportunity. However, many are sorely unaware of Indigenous history, rights and contributions to Canada’s development. No people or community can speak for another; individual and group knowledge is intrinsic and internal. However, in keeping with the ideal of “mutual sharing” emphasized in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, respect and trust can be fostered through shared difference. While the specific experiences of Indigenous peoples, immigrant communities, refugees and Canadian-born citizens are very different on many levels, connections can be developed through dialogue and reciprocity. Indigenous peoples as well as immigrant and refugee communities experience discrimination, racism, stigmatization and marginalization. These encounters represent a wider systemic problem in Canadian political, legal, sociocultural and historical contexts. Efforts to overcome exclusion can be built through increased awareness and knowledge-building, with support from allies.

This conference aims to fill this gap in knowledge and will bring together leaders from government and the judiciary, legal scholars, academics and practitioners to formulate practical solutions. The primary objective is to build bridges – cultural, political, intellectual and social connections – between those who share the lands of what is now Canada. The underlying rationale of the conference stems from the fact that Canada is now shared by Indigenous peoples, descendants of early settlers and more recent immigrant and refugee communities. These communities encounter Canada in very different ways based on racial identity, ancestral heritage, cultural background, community belonging, language and spiritual practice. Bridging the chasm that exists between Indigenous peoples and all newcomers, whether early or contemporary immigrants or refugees, is urgently needed in order to end discrimination and achieve equitable quality of life for all who live in this country. To this end, the objective is to understand how Indigenous peoples and various immigrant groups experience their lives in Canada. How are the challenges they face different? Are there shared goals and experiences upon which to build future alliances to achieve improved quality of life in Canada?
Conference papers are expected to be published subsequently in an edited volume, and topics will relate to the following broad themes:

(1) “Colonialism versus Consent”: Indigenous peoples have been and continue to be negatively impacted by colonialism. They did not consent to assimilation or territorial dispossession. Early settlers and contemporary immigrants and refugees generally have chosen to make Canada their home; this choice was not imposed on them. In the context of colonialism and consent, what have been the contrasting experiences of Indigenous peoples versus settler/immigrant/refugee communities?

(2) “Exclusion and Identity”: Indigenous peoples have faced centuries of exclusion and assimilation on their own lands. Early settlers did not face these forms of discrimination, but new immigrants and refugees often experience life on the perimeters of Canadian society. How are these experiences of race and identity different or similar? Are there similarities in how Indigenous peoples and immigrant communities maintain or revitalize their cultures and languages? Could encounters with exclusion and discrimination become points of “shared difference” between Indigenous peoples and immigrant communities? If so, is there the potential for building alliances?

(3) “Place and Displacement”: The role of “place” is a vital component of identity. Spiritual and cultural attachment to the land is a predominant component of most Indigenous identities. Similarly, displacement and attachment to home significantly impact life experience, sense of security and the physical and mental well-being of immigrants and refugees who come to Canada. Are there similarities between the territorial dispossession experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada and refugee communities? What are the impacts of forced migration, especially for those communities who seek to revitalize, recreate or reinvent their identities after losing a sense of “place”? How is “place” experienced by immigrant groups who voluntarily or actively choose to reside in Canada?

(4) “Nationalism and Alienation”: Any form of exclusion or discrimination is apt to result in alienation. While experienced differently and in different contexts, Indigenous peoples and immigrant/refugee communities are often alienated from the Canadian mainstream. This perpetuates disadvantage, erects barriers between communities and highlights the differences between “others”. How should the myriad of different national identities be respected in Canada? How should the original contributions of Indigenous peoples be recognized?

(5) “Recognition and Respect”: Recognition of difference – historical, cultural, political and social – is a vital sign of respect for a people or nation. Many who live in Canada are unaware of the distinctive histories and contributions of Indigenous peoples. Many are also unaware of the cultures and values of immigrant and refugee communities. What should be done to promote awareness and appreciation of the different groups that share what is now Canada? What might recognition of difference look like in legal, political and cultural contexts, and how would recognition differ for Indigenous peoples versus immigrant/refugee communities in practice? How should the differing cultural practices, histories and identities of Indigenous peoples be promoted and respected? In contrast, what should Canadians learn about immigrant and refugee communities?

(6) “Relationship-Building and Community Engagement”: Indigenous peoples face an alarming array of dire problems, akin to third-world conditions in an otherwise prosperous country. Immigrant and refugee communities also often contend with poorer quality of life than the “average” Canadian. How are these experiences different? What needs to be done to remedy these problems? Is relationship-building and reconciliation the answer for Indigenous peoples, and if so, what should approaches look like? Can and should alliances be forged between Indigenous peoples and settler/immigrant communities, both early and recent? How and in what contexts (i.e. legal, political, cultural, social) should all communities be actively involved in the creation of their futures?

All questions concerning the conference should be directed to the principal academic organizer, Dr. Jennifer Dalton, Assistant Professor, School of Public Policy & Administration, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Centre for Refugee Studies Scholar ( Interested participants may also contact the members of the Conference Organizing Committee: Dr. David McNab, Associate Professor of Indigenous Thought and Canadian Studies, Departments of Equity Studies/Humanities, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (; Dr. James Simeon, Acting Director, Centre for Refugee Studies, and Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (; Dr. H. Tom Wilson, Professor, Faculties of Graduate Studies, Law and Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Senior Fellow of McLaughlin College (

In light of the most recent (ongoing) elections in Kenya, will the IDP issue be resolved?

KENYA: Fours Years On IDPs Remain in Camps

  • by Peter Kahare (Rift Valley, Kenya)
  • Tuesday, January 24, 2012
  • Inter Press Service

Six-year-old Victor Muruga points to a hole in the bush that he calls his ‘bedroom’. ‘I sleep there, under that tree and my mother sleeps under that blanket,’ says Muruga.

Victor Muruga (r) and his three-year-old brother Ian Kimani (l) prepare lunch from their camp at 
Mumoi farm. - Peter Kahare/IPS
Victor Muruga (r) and his three-year-old brother Ian Kimani (l) prepare lunch from their camp at 
Mumoi farm. – Peter Kahare/IPS

Muruga is in a jovial mood as he prepares lunch for the family. The bubbly boy, his three-year old brother Ian Kimani and their mother had to initially spend five days in the bush after being transported here to Mumoi farm, enduring the scathing sun and biting cold as they waited for the government and Kenya Red Cross Society to provide them with tents.

Muruga’s family are among the 4,000Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by Kenya’s 2007/2008 post-election violence who live here on Mumoi farm in Subukia Township, 200 kilometres north west of Nairobi. Four years after the violence, they are yet to be allocated their one-hectare piece of land that the government promised all IDPs.

The families living on Mumoi farm want the 1,2 hectare farm, but the government refuses to buy it for them, saying that they had been relocated there illegally.

‘The ministry does not intend to buy that land because it is rocky and unsuitable for farming, and the government was not involved in moving them there,’ Permanent Secretary in the Special Programmes Ministry, Andrew Mondo, told IPS.

Mondo says that other government ministries like the Ministries of Land, Agriculture, Water, Roads and Education need to be involved in assessing and endorsing the land, and settling IDPs.

In the country’s 2011/2012 budget allocation, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta set aside 60 million dollars for resettling IDPs. However, the process of resettlement has been characterised by corruption, tribalism and hostility to the IDPs.

Early last year, the government launched an investigation into a missing two million dollars that had been set aside for the resettlement IDPs, which had allegedly been misappropriated by officials in various ministries and even representatives of IDPs.

The 2007/2008 post-election violence displaced over 660,000 people, over half of whom were displaced in the Rift Valley Province. While more than 300,000 families have returned to their farms, and their ethnic homelands in Central, Nyanza and Western Provinces, some have sold the homes they were forced to flee from and bought land elsewhere.

There remain over 15,000 families displaced by the post-election violence awaiting their land settlements in Rift Valley Province, the largest province in Kenya. Each family has an average of five children.

‘These are the people we recognise, plus the 5,710 families evacuated from the Mau Forest in 2009 who are camping in three major camps along the forest boundary,’ Mondo says.

But the Mumoi farm IDPs refute allegations that they are not victims of the post-election violence and claim that the government wanted to resettle them in Central Province against their will. Naivasha Member of Parliament, John Mututho, then facilitated the relocation of the IDPs to Mumoi farm, claiming that the government had failed to resettle them.

‘The government told all IDPs in the country to identify suitable land for themselves and alert the concerned ministry if they find it. That is what we did. We found this land and the seller is willing to sell it to us,’ Ibrahim Kihara, spokesperson for IDPs at Mumoi farm, told IPS.

Last week, Mututho petitioned the high court to allow him to resettle IDPs. He has also sued the government for sabotaging the IDPs resettlement exercise.

But not everyone is happy that politicians have become embroiled in the row to resettle IDPs. A group of over 2,000 displaced persons from the country’s largest camp atMawingu took to the streets early January to protest against being taken advantage of by politicians.

They also condemned Mututho for calling on IDPs to squat on private land.

‘Politicians should stop misleading the IDPs, and politicising the resettlement issue to get votes in the forthcoming elections,’ Osman Warfa, the Provincial Commissioner for Rift Valley Province, told IPS.

Another politician, Luka Kiagen, a Member of Parliament for Rongai Constituency, in the Rift Valley Province, has been leading a section of elders to complain over the settlement of IDPs in Rongai.

He claims that 10,000 people from the Kikuyu community had settled in Rongai at the expense of the largely Kalenjin community who had been evicted from the Mau Forest.

‘People displaced from Mau Forest who are residing along the border have been forgotten in the resettlement programme,’ Kigen told IPS.

The government maintains that there was no discrimination in the resettlement exercise.

‘Such allegations are unfounded. It is not by choice that members of the Kikuyu community are the largest number of IDPs,’ Mondo told IPS.

Non-governmental organisations and civil societies have blamed the government for the continued delay in resettling IDPs.

‘The IDPs issue has exposed the intolerance and divisions among communities. The government has not been willing to clear this blot on the face of Kenya. It has failed in upholding the constitution that guarantees security and accommodation for all Kenyans by false promises for four years.

‘The government claims that there is no land for relocation. But look at the thousands of acres owned by politicians and lying idle in the country. Can’t they be bought by the government at least to settle the IDPs?’ Ndung’u Wainaina, director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict, told IPS.

In December 2011 the government created a task force mandated to fast track the resettlement process. But Peter Kariuki, the coordinator for the IDPs National Network, says that four years down the line this is ‘too little too late.’


© Inter Press Service (2012) — All Rights Reserved

Original source: Inter Press Service

Knowledge Exchange With Policy Impact

December 15, 2011  by , Wellesly Insitute

I recently spoke at a national conference on The Art and Science of Knowledge Exchange on maximizing policy impact. The focus of the conference was on HIV/AIDS and I argued that key things needed by people with HIV/AIDS — from comprehensive health and related services, information to enable individuals to better manage their health care, investment in research and service/program development, to many changes beyond health care and research such as community capacity and resource building and addressing underlying social determinants of health — all flow through government policy in one way or another. So, maximizing the policy impact of knowledge exchange and research is a critical part of winning the necessary progressive policy changes. And this, of course, applies to many other communities and issues as well.

My key messages were that to turn knowledge, program proposals or research into policy action requires that:

1. policy makers know about the research or program and its implications → knowledge exchange strategy for all research projects/programs and community organizations;

2. policy makers understand the basis of the problem → means reports have to clearly set out policy implications;

3. you give policy makers concrete policy solutions or alternatives that will address whatever the problem is → the more “policy-ready” the recommendations, the better;

4. policy makers have the political will to act – often beyond the power of individual research projects/programs → where advocacy, alliances and coalitions come in.

I had made a related presentation to a CIHR seminar of HIV researchers on maximizing the impact of their findings last year. Wellesley has also developed a number of workshops over the years on understanding complex policy environments, translating complex issues into actionable and policy-ready alternatives, making effective policy cases, and enhancing the policy impact of community-based and other research.


Israel’s migrant dilemma

Repatriation of African migrants in Israel sparks international concern.

  1. In mid-2012, figures showed that Israel houses over 50,000 African migrants, most of them from Sudan or Eritrea.  According to a story published by Israeli news outlet Haaretz, Israel offered Eritreans the choice of prison or repatriation, drawing criticism from the UNHCR. In accordance with international conventions, most cannot be deported.
  2. This video, published on filmmaker David Sheen’s Blue Pilgrimage website in August 2012, shows Africans and Israelis reacting to the situation. (Warning: This video contains explicit language.)

  1. The following table depicts where the majority of migrants originate. Eritrea leads, followed closely by Sudan. Other migrants come from: Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Net migration to UK drops to 163,000

Fall of 84,000 from previous year has been caused mainly by decline in overseas students coming to Britain, Thursday 28 February 2013

Theresa May

The drop represents progress for the home secretary, Theresa May, towards her pledge of cutting net migration to below 100,000. Photograph: Getty Images

Net migration to Britain dropped to 163,000 in the 12 months to June 2012, largely driven by a sharp fall in overseas students, according to the latest quarterly figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The politically sensitive net migration figure of 163,000 is 20,000 below the previous quarter and 84,000 below the 247,000 recorded in the 12 months to June 2011. It represents significant progress for the home secretary, Theresa May, towards meeting her pledge of getting annual net migration below 100,000 by the time of the next election.

The detailed ONS figures show that the fall has been concentrated in a decline in overseas students coming to Britain, down from 239,000 in the year to June 2011 to 197,000 in the year to June 2012.

Separate Home Office figures for visas issued in 2012 show that the trend continued throughout last year to December. Sponsored student visas issued last year fell by 20%, family reunion visas were down 10% and work visas fell by 3%.

The detailed Home Office figures show the biggest drops were in overseas study visas for places at English language schools which were down 69%, at further education colleges, which were down 62%, and at public schools – down 14%. Study visas for university places rose by 3%.

The visa figures also show that the biggest falls in the number of study visas issued in 2012 were in those issued to Indian nationals, which were down 50%, and Pakistanis, down 69%. During his visit to India last week, David Cameron tried to limit the damage from the squeeze on overseas students, but Indian student visa numbers have now fallen from 42,000 in 2010 to 17273 last year.

Study visas for Chinese students, who remain the largest single group of overseas students coming to Britain, continued to increase in 2012, with a rise of 4,856 or 9% to 57,344, but this did little to offset the 52,066 fall in total study visas.

Another contribution to the overall fall in net migration came from a 10% fall in visas issued for family reasons, including for spouses and dependents, with the largest drops in those coming from the US and Afghanistan.

In contrast to the squeeze in student numbers and on family visas, the level of migration to Britain to work fell from 194,000 to 173,000 over the same period. Migration from Poland and other eastern European countries fell to 62,000 – the lowest level since they joined the EU in 2004.

Overall, the level of immigration to Britain fell from 589,000 to 515,000 over the year to June 2012, while emigration from Britain remained broadly stable with a rise of only 10,000 to 352,000 going to live abroad for more than 12 months.

The difference between the level of immigration at 515,000 and emigration at 352,000 gives the net migration figure of 163,000.

The latest asylum figures show that new applications for refugee status rose by 10% to 21,785, with the largest increases coming from people from Pakistan and Syria.

Home Office figures also show that 61 children were detained for immigration purposes in the last three months of 2012 despite the coalition pledge to abolish child detention. Most went through the new “family returns process” at the Cedars centre near Gatwick airport.

There were 2,685 people held in immigration detention centres at the end of December, 11% higher than the previous year. Most were being held for less than 30 days, but they included 255 who had been held for between one and two years and 67 who had been there longer than two years. Despite greater enforcement action, removals and departures continue to decline.

Sarah Mulley of the Institute for Public Policy Research said the fall in the number of international students which was driving the fall in net migration towards the official target would only have a short-term effect.

“Most students stay in the UK only for a short time, so reduced immigration now will mean reduced emigration in the future, which by 2015 could partially reverse the falls we are seeing today.

“This also means that more drastic cuts to student numbers would be needed to make further progress towards the government’s target. For example, the latest research suggests that only 18% of student migrants are still in the UK after five years. That means that the 52,000 fall in student visas that we saw last year will only reduce net migration by just over 9,000 in the medium term.

“Given that the government still need to reduce net migration by 63,000 in order to meet their target, it is clear that this cannot be achieved in the medium term without radical changes that go far beyond the student visa regime.”

But the immigration minister, Mark Harper, said Thursday’s figures were evidence that immigration was coming back under control.

“Our tough reforms are having an impact in all the right places – we have tightened the routes where abuse was rife and overall numbers are down as a result. But sponsored student visa applications for our world-class university sector are up and the numbers of skilled people being sponsored by UK employers in sectors such as IT and science have also increased,” he said.

“We will continue to work hard to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this parliament and to create a selective immigration system that works in our national interest.”