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SSHRC awards Partnership Development Grant to support research into migration potential of small and mid-sized cities

June 17, 2022
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The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) awards CERC Migration a Partnership Development Grant to undertake a comparative study on immigration to small and mid-sized cities. The project, led by CERC Migration senior researcher Melissa Kelly, brings together Canadian and international partners to investigate patterns of migration in four world regions: Alberta, Canada; Northern Ontario, Canada; Victoria, Australia; and South Island, New Zealand.

Many small and mid-sized cities in Canada, Australia and New Zealand view immigration as a way to address labour shortages and as a way to counter the effects of population decline. While they would like to attract and retain immigrants, small and mid-sized cities often struggle to do so as immigrants generally prefer to live in larger cities.

“The project is novel in that it goes beyond a consideration of the economic drivers underpinning international migration to small and mid-sized cities, to also look at how life course and place-based factors influence the experiences and decision-making of immigrants,” says Melissa Kelly. “The comparative perspective across three countries will bring to light underlying patterns that might not be easily identifiable with a single-country focus.”

Through a collaboration with the academic partners in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the project will use focus groups, newcomer surveys and in-depth interviews to create eight city case studies. The project will also work with non-academic community partners who will add insights to the research design through their experiences working directly with newcomers in their local regions.

“We’re grateful to SSHRC for making this innovative research possible,” says Anna Triandafyllidou, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration. “Canada needs to find ways to strengthen regional migration, as do our partner countries, and this research will help to uncover important insights that will lead to better policy to benefit our local communities.”

Summary of participating partners:

Academic Partners


Anna Triandafyllidou, CERC Migration, Toronto Metropolitan University

Melissa Kelly, CERC Migration (and project lead)

Julie Drolet, University of Calgary

Rebecca Wickes, Monash University

Ashraful Alam, University of Otago


Zhixi Zhuang, Toronto Metropolitan University

Michelle Nguyen, CERC Migration, Toronto Metropolitan University

George Tan, Charles Darwin University

Etienne Nel, University of Otago 

Non-academic partners

Century Initiative

Welcoming Australia

NWO Local Immigration Partnership

North Bay Local Immigration Partnership

Medicine Hat Local Immigration Partnership

Red Deer Local Immigration Partnership

Environment Southland

Stronger Waitaki Coalition, Waitaki District Council 

Learn also about new funding for a Partnership Grant supporting a large-scale study of migration systems in three continents., opens in new window