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

What is the objective of this project?

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.

What are the phases of this project?



Stage 1 (January to March 2019):

  • 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.
  • 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):

  • 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.
  • 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):

  • Develop a best practices resource highlighting how government and service providers can better support collective civic action among migrant groups.
  • 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.

Who is involved in this project?


Research Team


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


Project Coordinator:

Andrea Bobadilla, MSc, PhD(c)



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


Andrea Bobadilla