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Understanding Migration: New Perspectives are the Foundation of Canadian Innovation

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou 

Scientific Director & Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration & Integration, Toronto Metropolitan University

Dr. Rupa Banerjee

Canada Research Chair in Economic Inclusion, Employment & Entrepreneurship of Canada’s Immigrants, 
Toronto Metropolitan University

How will the changing shape of global migration affect Canada’s future? At Toronto Metropolitan University, that’s the 98.6 million dollar question. 

Canada is a nation built on immigration and migration. As Canadians, we have always known in our bones that the health and vibrancy of our society is dependent on a continual conversation between those who have been here longer and those who have newly arrived to shape the Canada of tomorrow. In 2022 alone, Canada welcomed 437,000 new permanent residents and 1.2 million temporary migrants, including international students. The skills, experience, and perspective these newcomers bring can be a huge boon — especially in the face of a growing labour shortage — but only if they are properly supported.

The shape and character of migration is changing, and Canada is changing too. Charting the best course forward in this new landscape is going to require a clear and comprehensive understanding of the complex underpinnings of modern migration. It’s a momentous research project that we, as a country, cannot shy away from. It is also the precise target of a new $98.6 million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF).

Toronto Metropolitan University has a unique focus on migration issues

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), in the heart of Canada’s most migration-driven urban centre, was announced in April as the selected recipient of this grant, and they will work in collaboration with teams at 27 core partners including Concordia University, the University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia. TMU’s many research labs and working groups are already gearing up for one of the most ambitious interdisciplinary studies of human migration ever undertaken: Migrant Integration in the Mid-21st Century: Bridging Divides.

The Bridging Divides research program — which will include the training of 1,500 highly qualified personnel— is being led by Scientific Director Anna Triandafyllidou, who holds the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at TMU. Originally from Greece herself, Dr. Triandafyllidou holds a nuanced perspective on what it means to be Canadian, and a special interest in issues of identity, diversity, nationalism, and multicultural citizenship. 

“Canadianness is something that is built every day, it’s not something static,” says Dr. Triandafyllidou. “We need to make sure we remain connected to one another and that our communities are inclusive, sustainable, and resilient. The goal of the Bridging Divides project is to make sure that migration and immigration work for newcomers and for the whole Canadian society.”

A multidisciplinary approach to a complex and interconnected problem

The ambitious goals of Bridging Divides are inspiring an unprecedented level of collaboration between the diverse research disciplines represented at TMU, from sociology to political science, from economics to engineering. “Funding research that is so interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary sends a strong message,” says Dr. Rupa Banerjee, Canada Research Chair in Economic Inclusion, Employment and Entrepreneurship of Canada’s Immigrants. “We know from previous studies that the under-utilization of immigrant skills costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars. We’re particularly interested in how technology both contributes to the problem, and also how it could contribute to the solution.”

As technologies like artificial intelligence, and societal shifts like the ascendance of the gig economy, continue to interact in often unforeseen ways, we are a nation at a crossroads where bold action on immigration and migration is necessary. Bridging Divides is Canada stepping up to the plate, committing to being a world leader in understanding and reshaping the immigration policies and practices that in turn shape us.

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