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Migration and the City


The annual Khalsa Day Parade finished at the Nathan Philips Square, Toronto City Hall, celebrating the Sikh New Year. Photo by Zhixi Zhuang.


The challenge

Migration is at the heart of urban growth, both as a lever of development and as a set of challenges for cities. Such challenges include how cities provide services to their rising migrant and refugee resident population. Migration contributes to the vibrant urban context, but also may put pressure on a city’s infrastructure and may raise competing claims for ethnic and cultural accommodation and inclusion.

Canada is at the forefront of research and policy innovation in migrant integration with a special focus on the opportunities that migration brings for both large urban centres and small and medium-sized cities. The success of Canadian policies is such that we risk neglecting a sense of critical self-reflection to ensure policies and practices continue to support thriving immigrants and receiving communities.


Our research focus

CERC Migration leads critical investigations into the effectiveness of settlement versus integration in our society, asking questions, such as ‘what is the experience of settlement/integration on the ground by the communities concerned?’ And ‘what is the lived experience of migrants or refugees and their families and of the communities that welcome them?’ Our specific considerations include:

  • The suburbanization of migration in emerging satellite cities within large urban regions, and the implications for urban planning, infrastructure, employment, entrepreneurship and identity. (Zhixi C. Zhuang)
  • The challenges of the regionalization of migration, and particularly migration to second-tier and third-tier cities, distinguishing between those close to large metropolises and those which are more isolated, with particular focus on the dynamics in Canada and Australia. (Melissa Kelly)
  • The relationship between migrants, urbanization and place-making in large cities located in different world regions. We are particularly interested in the role of global diasporas and elite migrants in transferring human and financial capital between urban centres, their role in place-making and in shaping the urban identity of large metropoles. (Irina IsaakyanAmin Moghadam, Oreva Olakpe)
  • Comparative perspectives on the practices and experiences of reception, settlement and integration of migrants and refugees in cities across the Americas. (Berti Olinto, Anna Triandafyllidou)


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