Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certificate

Who we are

What is the Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certificate?

The Migrant Systems Change Leadership program is a certificate offered by the Refugee Livelihood Lab. The program is for people in British Columbia who have lived a refugee or immigrant experience. Through a collaborative process in a hybrid in-person and remote learning setting, participants gain an understanding of foundational concepts around equity, power, racial justice, Indigenous rights, and decolonization.

Participants work alongside other leaders and advisors to develop, test, and share initiatives to address social, political, or economic issues specific to refugee and immigrant communities.

Why Systems Change? Learn more here.

We amplify your projects, ground your impact in the communities you serve, and invest in you as a person.

To receive email updates from the Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certificate program, sign-up below.

Program Overview

RADIUS’ Refugee Livelihood Lab offers a welcoming and safe environment to help participants grow confidence and leadership and provides access to tailored coaching support. 

A critical part of the work is in exploring the tensions and relationships of being newcomers and immigrants on unceded Indigenous lands, and our ties to Indigenous communities.

Together, we will embark on an enriching journey of growth and awareness with open hearts and minds. 

This certificate program consists of nine modules delivered primarily online with some in-person learning.

You will share a virtual classroom with up to 20 other learners in weekly sessions over four months.


  • MSCL 110 – Voices from the Field
  • MSCL 120 – Locating Ourselves, Mapping Our Systems
  • MSCL  210 – Practicing Equity-Centred Design
  • MSCL 220 – Reflection & Generative Dialogue
  • MSCL 310 – Co-Creating the Future
  • MSCL 320 – Feedback, Iteration, & Failure
  • MSCL 410 – Co-Evolving: Influence, Engagement, & Partnership
  • MSCL 420 – Integration & Next Steps
  • MSCL 510 – Practicum, Coaching, & Integration

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Discuss key tensions facing leaders in refugee and immigration systems.
  • Discuss personal social locations in relation to how they benefit from, or are targeted by systems of oppression.
  • Differentiate between internalized oppression and liberating beliefs in leadership mindset.
  • Demonstrate using privileges to support equity as a systems leader.
  • Map the conditions of systems change in a specific problem area facing migrant communities including: policies, practices and resource flows, relationships, power dynamics, and mental models.
  • Apply an equity-centred design framework to a key problem in migrant communities.
  • Capture community-generated themes relating to conditions of systems change such as: policies, practices and resource flows, relationships, power dynamics, and mental models.
  • Generate feedback from networks of peers, impacted communities and influential stakeholders.
  • Develop your own community-informed project prototype
  • Prepare a public presentation on your systems change prototype 

We welcome everyone who identifies with the refugee or immigrant experience, including new and experienced leaders, settlement workers & managers, artists, activists, funders, employers, entrepreneurs, parents, community members and more. All applicants must be based in British Columbia and able to attend all online and in-person sessions, including the retreat.

Successful applicants must demonstrate prior commitment to addressing issues faced by migrant communities either through paid or unpaid work experience, community leadership, or other means. We recognize foreign-earned credentials and experience. 

If you answer YES to any of these questions, then this program is for you. 

  • Do you have a passion to address challenges such as credential recognition, language barriers, racism, poverty, homophobia, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, detention policies, access to health care, social and economic exclusion of refugee communities or other issues? 
  • Do you have ideas for your community you want to put into action but have not yet found a way?
  • Do you believe in the value of collaboration with people most affected by the issues AND people with access to institutional power? 
  • Are you willing to invest in your personal leadership and growth? 
  • Do you want to contribute to building diverse communities that can create and lead together? 
  • Do you identify with the refugee or newcomer experience?

Applications are currently closed.

If you have questions, email the team at mscl_rll@sfu.ca.

Orientation: Thursday, August 22, 6:00-8:30pm – Online


Sessions run weekly on Fridays, beginning September 6 to December 13, 2024, from 9am to 12pm (except for in-person sessions on Sept 13/14, Oct 30-Nov 1, December 13)


  • Sessions 2-3: Friday, September 13, Saturday, Sept 14, 9am-5pm
  • Retreat: Thursday, October 30—Friday, November 1 (overnight)
  • Closing Debrief:  Friday, Dec 13, 9am-4pm

Information Sessions: 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024, 6pm-7pm online. Register here.

The program cost is $1,000 (CAD). Participants are encouraged to utilize Professional Development funds if available. 

We recognize that inequitable structures create barriers that might prevent you from accessing this certificate. We are committed to removing access barriers to this program (to the best of our ability). Scholarships, income replacement, English Language Learner support, transportation subsidies, dependent care support (childcare and elders), and more are available. 

If you are undocumented, don’t have a SIN number, or have difficulty applying, please get in touch with us.

We are hosting two Information Sessions in 2024 to offer guidance on the application process and to answer any questions you might have about the program. 

If you require further support to complete your application, contact us at mscl_rll@sfu.ca.

If you have any access needs (i.e. language, computer, wifi), please do not hesitate to contact us for support. 

While this program is for racialized migrants, we are in solidarity with the elderly, newcomers, refugees, undocumented people, Indigenous people, Black people, people of all religious faiths, racialized people, English language learners, drug users, sex workers, the LGBTQIA2+ community, young people, low income people, parents, caretakers, people who live with mental and physical illness, and those with accessibility needs. If an identity you hold is unseen, please let us know, so that we can learn and hopefully welcome you into this community of leaders.

If you have questions or concerns, or are unsure if this is the right program for you, contact the Refugee Livelihood Lab at mscl_rll@sfu.ca.

Can I still apply if I don’t live in British Columbia? 

Due to the program’s hybrid model, we are currently not accepting applications outside of B.C.

Do I need to have a final project by the end of the program? 

The Migrant Systems Change Leadership Certificate program is an ideation program, which means we don’t expect a final, tangible product at the end. However, we hope that each participant leaves with an idea for a solution to a community problem that they can continue working on after the program ends.

Is this program graded or pass/fail? 

No. As an SFU, non-credit program, no grades or pass/fail requirement is assigned to successfully complete the certificate.

Will you give us assignments or exams? 

No. This program is less formal than a traditional university course. While we will ask you to complete some tasks outside of the sessions to help with advancing your idea, there will be no assignments or exams. 

Will I get a job placement if I do this program? 

Participants are exposed to a vast network of professionals throughout this program who could potentially help accelerate your job search and connect you with a potential employer. Although many past participants gained employment indirectly by completing this program, we can’t guarantee a job.

Some topics in the program can be potentially triggering and create tension. What will you do to provide a safe space for everyone?

While we cannot guarantee perfection, we do our best to provide the necessary support to participants as needed. Our facilitation team is skilled with mediating difficult conversations and conflict, and in grounding practices. We will collaboratively establish community guidelines at the beginning of the program with the aim of creating a safe space for sharing and challenging each other. It is a balance. We do not tolerate hateful, discriminatory, or disrespectful behaviour and are simultaneously inviting curiosity and learning into the space, especially with the diversity of lived experiences racialized migrants carry. 

 Photos by: Xiaoyi Zhu

The Program Team

About the Refugee Livelihood Lab

The Refugee Livelihood Lab is a social innovation lab housed within RADIUS at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. A core part of our work is collaborating with diverse communities and partners to co-create. We strive to centre the voices and leadership of communities directly impacted by the issues of forced migration and displacement. 

Nada El Masry

Manager, Refugee Livelihood Lab
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Shikhank Sharma

Activator, Refugee Livelihood Lab
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Laura Gaaysiigad Cuthbert

Curriculum Contributor

Yara Younis

Project Manager, Refugee Livelihood Lab
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Jorge Salazar

Curriculum Contributor

Reyna Villasin

Activator, Refugee Livelihood Lab

Camille Dumond

Advisor, Refugee Livelihood Lab
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Paola Ardiles

Curriculum Contributor

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