Refugee Livelihood Lab

What is the Refugee Livelihood Lab?

The Refugee Livelihood Lab is a social innovation lab housed within RADIUS at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University.

Our vision is a world where systems enable, rather than limit, the dreams and potentials of displaced and migrant peoples.

Our mission is to facilitate systems change toward migrant justice. We do this by building power with communities through leadership development, convening, and advocacy.

Our principles include centring the leadership of impacted communities; addressing power skillfully; building transformational relationships; growing awareness of Canada’s role in displacement globally, as well as the link between Indigenous sovereignty here and abroad; designing practical initiatives that create the conditions for equity; and co-creating liberating new narratives that challenge social and economic myths about displaced and migrant peoples.

Our goals include enhancing the networks, influence, and transformational leadership capacity of migrant communities; increasing impacted communities’ access to dignified pathways to social and economic capital; and building alignment within the refugee and immigrant services sector toward greater equity.

Our central program, formerly called Beyond Borders, is now a non-credit certificate course called the Migrant Systems Change Leadership Program offered through SFU, Beedie School of Business.

Our advocacy contributions have included support and leadership with the Canadian Experience Barrier Policy Project, the Trained to Save Lives Initiative, and the Refugee Claimant Tuition Project, among others.

 

Introducing the Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certificate!

This is the first certificate of its kind offered by the Refugee Livelihood Lab. The program is designed for people who have lived a refugee or immigrant experience and who are passionate about working with and supporting these communities.

NEW!

About the Refugee Livelihood Lab

The Refugee Livelihood Lab is part of a growing movement supporting deep shifts in the systems which govern our lives towards equity, dignity, and sustainability for all people and the planet.

Today, in a time of heightened attention to racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, gender-based violence, climate change, and more, there is an urgency and commitment to move from innovation that simply improves systems towards disrupting patterns and transforming systems.

Given that one entrenched, systemic pattern facing refugee and newcomer communities is exclusion from decision-making – to disrupt this pattern, we need to be intentional about how we practice innovation, why, and who we support to be at the heart of innovation practice. Without this framework, we risk perpetuating the same problems we are aiming to change.

In the Refugee Livelihood Lab, we center the voices and leadership of communities directly impacted by the issues of forced migration and displacement. We believe this practice in itself creates a new pattern and a new world of possibilities for change. Beyond tokenism, we see the need for community organizing and practical initiatives that create new storylines about refugee and newcomer communities.

Defining Our Terms

Refugee: The Lab uses the UNHCR definition of refugee, which is “someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war, or violence.” We recognize the complex humanity of people outside their country of origin who are seeking to build a meaningful life regardless of their status.

Livelihood: The means by which people get the necessities for life. This includes economic survival needs and the deeper socio-cultural, ecological and political necessities for the human spirit to thrive.

Lab: A collaborative space for focused learning, discovery and action, focused on systemic change.

The Programs

Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certificate

Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certificate

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The Migrant Systems Change Leadership (MSCL) program is the first certificate of its kind offered by the Refugee Livelihood Lab. The program is designed for people who have lived a refugee or immigrant experience and who are passionate about working with and supporting these communities. Through a collaborative process taking place over eight months in an online setting, you will gain an understanding of foundational concepts related to equity, racial justice, and decolonization. You will be able to apply these lessons by working alongside a group of other leaders with lived experiences to develop, test, and share initiatives that address social, political, or economic issues specific to refugee and immigrant communities.

Trampoline: Ideas Into Action!

Trampoline: Ideas Into Action!

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Trampoline: Ideas into Action! is a free 12-week program for people who have an idea for a social business or non-profit that addresses problems faced by refugee and newcomer communities in Surrey. People with lived experience of forced migration and displacement and/or with deep networks in these communities are welcome to apply.

This program emphasizes the importance of learning from the people engaging with your venture. Participants will conduct weekly interviews to test their assumptions, shape their product or service offering based on feedback. We will work on communications best practices to reach the population you serve, determine the most appropriate finance methods, and assess the market to see if there is demand for your offering. We will also examine the project through a “migrant justice” lens – asking about models that support democratic ownership, profit-sharing, and freedom from exploitation.

Project Spotlight

Roots 'N Shoots Case Study

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The Global Market Place Case Study

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PowerHack Case Study

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LiteraC Case Study

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The TEAM

Meet the RADIUS Team Behind Refugee Livelihood Lab

The Refugee Livelihood Lab is developed in ongoing consultation with community partners, entrepreneurs, and innovators with lived experience as refugees, service providers, policy-makers, and advocates. The Lab responds to the Surrey LIP’s 2017 “Our New Home” Refugee Integration Strategy priorities around economic and social inclusion.

Nada El Masry

Program Manager

Nada El Masry (she/her) is a Libyan-born Palestinian who came to the unceded land of the Coast Salish peoples just over ten years ago. Due to her life experiences and education, Nada has fostered a deep passion for social justice and has shaped her life goals around values rooted in that field. She has been working with and engaging newcomers for several years and currently manages the Refugee Livelihood Lab, which aims to build social, economic, and political capital for racialized refugee and migrant communities.
Nada is pursuing a Master’s in Equity Studies in Education at SFU and was a recipient of a 2019 BC Anti-Racism Award. She has also been nominated by the Future of Good as a 2020 Top 21 Founders to Watch, and received a 2018 Leadership Award from Voices of Muslim Women. In her free time, Nada enjoys playing and watching soccer.

Yara Younis

Project Manager

Born and raised in Dubai (UAE), Yara is a Palestinian refugee who had felt detached from her ‘home’ in the Gaza Strip for the longest time. Now, having spent years contemplating and unlearning colonial narratives, she considers the meaning of statelessness, as well as how systems of power co-opt and shape refugee experiences. Prior to settling on unceded Coast Salish lands, Yara worked at the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi as a MENA research analyst and as the deputy advisor and project coordinator for the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. She completed her MA in International Studies at Simon Fraser University, where she was a Researcher for the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies. In her spare time, Yara enjoys reading sci-fi, listening to heavy metal, and walking for long hours to nowhere in particular.

Camille Dumond

Advisor

Camille co-designed the Refugee Livelihood Lab at RADIUS. The lab aims to increase the social, political and economic capital of diverse racialized migrant communities. Camille’s role includes using the lab’s resources to amplify initiatives emerging from communities with lived experience of forced displacement and migration. She also works with an incredible team to surface systemic patterns that cause harm and support new patterns which value the dignity, experiences, skills, and dreams of racialized migrants. She brings 18+ years of experience in community-based facilitation, program design, conflict mediation and healing-centred engagement.  

In addition to her work at RADIUS, Camille practices somatic therapy. She has a rich connection to the dreaming world, loves poetry, spontaneous dance parties and her two sisters.

Alia Sunderji

Activator

Alia is a social entrepreneur and lecturer at Simon Fraser University, where she teaches Sustainable Innovation and Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Passionate about the fields of sustainability, poverty alleviation and impact investing, Alia is the Founder of Luv The Grub, an emerging social enterprise that operates at a number of levels in the food system by capturing produce seconds that would otherwise go to waste, hires newcomer refugees and immigrants through a paid employment training program and produces delicious chutneys and spreads for the local market. In addition, Alia is also the Co-Founder of Liv & Lola, a fair trade home decor business that works with artisans in rural areas of Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Thailand where employment opportunities are scarce in an effort to lift them, their families and their communities out of poverty.

Jorge Salazar

Activator

Jorge Salazar works as Project Director of the Inner Activist, a project of Tides Canada. The Inner Activist is a leadership education program that is part of a global movement rooted in social justice, equity, self-awareness and our place in nature. Jorge co-founded, in partnership with immigrant and refugee youth and allies, the Fresh Voices Initiative with Vancouver Foundation, where he worked as Project Manager. Fresh Voices gathers a network of more than 200 migrant youth to address systemic issues via policy change in BC. Jorge came to Canada as a refugee from Colombia in late 2000. He uses his own immigration journey, life experiences, and training to bridge communities and facilitate positive change.

 

Paola Ardiles

Curriculum Contributor

Paola Ardiles BSc (Hons) MHSc MBA is a public health advocate, an educator and a social entrepreneur. Throughout her career, she has led various collaborative and innovative approaches in research, policy and practice, to enable a broader understanding of our collective role in promoting health and well-being for all. Paola came to Canada as a refugee child in the mid-seventies and formed part of the Chilean diaspora who established itself in Toronto during the military dictatorship. Since then, Paola has been driven to create social change by sharing knowledge and creating space for people’s voices to be heard. Today, she serves as a bridge or a “knowledge broker” through her roles as an educator, mentor, advocate, policy analyst, entrepreneur, advisor, facilitator and public speaker. In 2017, Paola was recognized as one of TD Bank’s 10th Most Influential Hispanic Canadians.

Shikhank Sharma

Activator

Shikhank has been actively involved in the social impact space academically and professionally for a number of years in areas of social innovation, impact investing, education, and sustainability.
 
His journey to grow and learn led him from his home in the vibrant city of Delhi in Northern India to North America over ten years ago. During this time, Shikhank has been grateful for the communities that he has been a part of, his own lived experiences, and the shared knowledge of those around him for helping him better his understanding of the world in all its brilliance and juxtapositions. Over the years, Shikhank has collaborated with various impact organizations – nonprofits, universities, and social enterprises – in roles and projects related to strategic planning, community engagement, capacity building, and research. 
 
It brings Shikhank utmost joy when he is able to help individuals and groups facing a sticky issue related to an idea or a project have the “a-ha” moments where they are able to figure out a path forward.

Lab Contributors

Thank you to the following people who have contributed their leadership to the lab over the past years:

  • Ayaan Ismail (Facilitation, Design, and Evaluation)
  • Yara Younis (Writing, Research, and Advocacy)
  • Hala Aurangzeb (Writing, Research, and Design)
  • Holden Bonwit (Teaching and Advising)
  • Jennifer Reddy (Advising)
  • Terri Rutty (Advising)
  • Sean Condon (Advising)
  • Ralph Baddour (Advising)
  • Shaheen Nanji (Advising)
  • Kiri Bird (Design)
  • Aileen Murphy (Advising)
  • Nav Chima (Advising)
  • Will Tao (Advising)
  • Ajay Puri (Advising)
  • Anthonia Ogundele (Advising and Speaker)
  • and many more!

CONTACT

Questions About Refugee Livelihood Lab?

For more information, please contact Nada El Masry, Program Manager, nelmasry@radiussfu.com.

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