York University Professor and Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) resident scholar Jennifer Hyndman was a featured panellist for an event marking the International Day of Peace and celebrating 75 years of the United Nations.
The panel Reframing the Migration Debate: Community Based Sponsorship and Safe Pathways? ran Oct. 13 and was hosted by Justice and Peace, a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands that is interested in expanding protection for refugees in that country through community-based initiatives.
For more than 50 years, Justice and Peace has defended and promoted human rights, with a current focus on refugees and the security of human rights defenders around the world. The interactive panel explored tangible efforts and practical solutions that communities and organizations have developed and can utilize to resettle and welcome refugees.
Hyndman, along with speakers from Italy and the Netherlands, discussed strategies for creating more safe spaces in these countries and their respective cities, with respect to private sponsorship of refugees (also known in Europe as community-based). Until recently, Canada was the only country doing private sponsorship of refugees, but it has been joined of late by Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Argentina and the United Kingdom. During a time when support for refugees and newcomers worldwide has plummeted, private sponsorship is a fascinating citizen-led initiative through which volunteers support and finance refugee newcomers for one year. More than 300,000 people have made Canada their home through this program over the last four decades.
CRS has developed world renowned expertise in understanding the dynamics of refugee inclusion, and private sponsorship in particular, known as a ‘complementary pathway’ to safety in the UNHCR’s recent Global Compact on Refugees. Hyndman (Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change) holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant and with her research team (Biftu Yousuf, Johanna Reynolds, Dawit Demoz and Anna Purkey) is analyzing data collected from more than 100 former refugees, sponsors and key informants involved in Canadian private sponsorship before the 2015 initiative brought more than 25,000 Syrians to Canada in just four months.
Michaela Hynie (Department of Psychology) leads a Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR)-funded longitudinal study about the social inclusion of Syrian refugees in Canada, many of whom are privately sponsored (SyRIA.lth). Luin Goldring (Department of Sociology) and Hyndman also collaborate with colleagues at the University of Toronto and the University of Winnipeg to probe what motivates people to become sponsors in an initiative led by CRS Affiliate Professor Audrey Macklin.
Along with York colleagues, Christopher Kyriakides and Dagmar Soennecken, Hynie and Hyndman are also team members in a SSHRC Partnership Grant, the Local Engagement Refugee Research Network (LERRN), which aims to examine and enhance the role of civil society in responding to the needs of refugees in the Global South.