Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

The Civil Society Dynamic of Including and Empowering Refugees in Canada’s Urban Centres

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Abstract:  This article addresses the critical role that civil society at the urban level plays in integrating and empowering immigrants and minorities in Canadian society. From a place-based approach, it investigates how key agencies in the local community have been instrumental in including immigrants in general and refugees in particular into the fabric of Canadian society. Empirically the analysis focuses on Neighbourhood Houses in Greater Vancouver and the Privately-Sponsored Refugee program in Canada. With the interpretative lens on the urban context, the article shows how immigrants and refugees have gained agency and voice in the public arena through place-based communities. The insight into these two empirical cases provides the basis for conceptualizing the socio-political dynamics of immigrant settlement and integration in terms of the effects generated by urban governance structures.

Keywords:  Canada; civil society; immigration; integration; refugees



© Oliver Schmidtke. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.