Prof. Jelena Zikic organizes symposium on integration of migrants and refugees

Professor Jelena Zikic, School of Human Resource Management in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), organized an event in Germany last month on the topic of migrants and refugees in Europe.

As the initiator of this event, Zikic was successful in securing minor funding by contributing to the call for proposals on the topicof “Contributions to the integration of immigrants and refugees in European workplaces”  offered by  the European Association for Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP).

This International Symposium took place Dec. 15 and 16 at the University of Bamberg, and was attended by both Canadian and German policy makers, researchers and community workers and  hosted by European Forum for Migration Studies.

Jelena Zikic with Catrin Geldmacher, who runs a community program for encouraging cross-cultural exchange in Germany, and her employee and recent refugee to Germany Ahmad Alkhoudr

Jelena Zikic with Catrin Geldmacher, who runs a community program for encouraging cross-cultural exchange in Germany, and her employee and recent refugee to Germany Ahmad Alkhoudr

The symposium “Canada vs. Germany: Is Canada a model immigration Nation?” was born out of a study abroad course (Migration, Work & Society HRM 4475) and collaborations between Zikic and various colleagues in Germany.

“In fact, Canada and Germany are often compared on immigration policies and migration models and so there was a good foundation for continuing the conversation on this topic and learning from each other,” said Zikic. “The symposium was based on knowledge exchange paradigm and sharing of examples in the context of migration and refugee policy and practice.”

The highlight of the event, said Zikic, was the ability to attract several high profile speakers who travelled from Canada to Germany to share their knowledge and learn from German colleagues as well.

Speakers included:

• Naomi Alboim – Distinguished Fellow and professor at the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, and formerly worked at senior levels in the federal and provincial governments, including eight years as Deputy Minister. Her areas of responsibility included immigration, human rights, labour market training, workplace standards, culture, sport and recreation, as well as women’s, seniors’, disability and aboriginal issues;

• Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI and former member of the Minister’s Roundtable on Fair Access to Regulated Professions for the Province of Ontario; and

• Monica Brennan, manager of the Internationally Educated Professionals Bridging Program at York University, and previous director of mentoring at the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

“As the main organizer and the leader of this event, together with colleagues from the research center at the University of Bamberg, namely from European Forum for Migration Studies (efms), we can confidently say that the event was a unique way to meet with German collaborators and learn about various migrant and refugee initiatives and ongoing challenges faced by each country,” said Zikic. “At the same time, speakers were also able to share best practices in each country  and the discussion revolved around unique cultural, geographical, political and societal context in each country and how these issues influence our ability to enhance integration of migrants and refugee in our countries.”

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