The Praxis of Migrant Transformative Resilience: Understanding how collective action among immigrant communities impacts on resilience and system change

The key objective of this study is to understand how racialized immigrant communities in Toronto not just cope and become resilient to systemic stressors and inequities they face in the post-migration context, but also how they organize to subvert, contest or overcome these systemic stressors and inequities. We take a critical framework of resilience, conceptualized as migrant “transformative resilience” to investigate how immigrant communities simultaneously adapt and cope with host society conditions while resisting unequal relations of power. Through exploring immigrant transformative resilience, we aim to document and build knowledge about institutional supports and resources that can enable immigrant communities to organize successful collective civic actions to advance equality.

Research Objectives:

  1. Investigate how and why immigrant communities mobilize collectively against root causes associated with challenges and adversities they face
  2. Document impacts from these collective actions on immigrant communities
  3. Build knowledge about institutional supports and resources that can strengthen collective civic action among immigrant communities.

To advance the conceptual, policy and practice contributions of the Partnership, we need to consider how the concept of resilience has been mobilised in a productive manner (or not) by various actors. Our critical examination of settlement sector resilience will illuminate the complex three-way dynamics & interrelationships between government, settlement sector, and communities in building migrant resilience.


  • Stage 1 (January to March 2019):
    1. Community consultations were conducted to identify and engage immigrant groups who are involved in collective action to address systemic inequalities. The three community groups of focus that were identified include the Filipino, South Asian, and Tibetan communities throughout the GTA.
    2. Exploratory literature review will also be conducted to assess the level and types of literature on how immigrant groups respond to systemic stressors and inequities, with attention to the relationship between resilience and resistance.
  • Stage 2 (April to June 2019):
    1. Semi-structured individual interviews with key stakeholders who are immigrant leaders that are or have been involved/impacted by collective actions and/or knowledgeable about institutional resources and supports for civic actions.
    2. Focus group discussions with groups of participants who are or have been involved in collective action that seeks to challenge or undo systemic inequities facing immigrant communities.
  • Stage 3 (July to September 2019):
    1. Develop a best practices resource highlighting how government and service providers can better support collective civic action among migrant groups.
    2. Organize an Action Forum focused on how government and community agencies can better support migrant groups in collective civic action and policy decision making process.

Principal Investigators:

  • Yogendra Shakya, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Access Alliance
  • Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • Rupaleem Bhuyan, PhD, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
  • Rupaleem Bhuyan (University of Toronto)
  • John Shields (Ryerson University)
  • Margaret Walton-Roberts (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Project Coordinator:

  • Andrea Bobadilla, MSc, PhD(c)
Community Partners:
  • Alejandra Bravo, Director of Leadership and Training, Broadbent Institute
  • Martha Ocampo, Caregiver Connections Education and Support Organization (CCESCO)
  • Seher Shafiq, Program Manager, DiverseCity Fellows, CivicAction
  • Flor Dandal, Executive Director, Kababayan
  • Tina Edan, Lead Maytree Policy School, Maytree Foundation
  • Sajedeh Zahrei, Senior Policy and Research Coordinator, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
  • Zahra Ebrahim, Co-Founder, Community Design Initiative
  • John Beebe, Senior Advisor, Faculty of Arts, Ryerson University
  • Beth Wilson, Senior Researcher, Social Planning Toronto
  • Sultana Jahangeer, Executive Director, South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO)
  • Tashi Kuyee, Vice President, Tibetan Women’s Association of Ontario (TWAO)
  • Rinchen Dolma, Organizing Member, Tibetan Women’s Association of Ontario (TWAO)
  • Mike Morden, Research Director, The Samara Centre for Democracy
  • Brenda Roche, Director of Research, Wellesley Institute
  • Kofi Hope, Senior Policy Advisor, Wellesley Institute
  • Michaela Hynie, Professor, York University
  • Anjum Sultana, Manager of Policy & Strategic Communications, YWCA

What is our approach?