The Role of Research in Creating Welcoming Communities
What role can research play in helping create a more welcoming community? Two examples, from Prince Edward Island and Brantford, Ontario, demonstrate how a collaborative, participatory approach can take research out of the university and make a difference in the lives of newcomers.
Researchers from the University of Prince Edward Island’s School of Business were interested in learning who comes to PEI to start their own business, and why they chose the province. Working with the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada, the provincial government and other local partners, the team identified and interviewed the newcomer owners of sixty local businesses. Instead of just producing a standard academic paper outlining their findings, the researchers created a colourful profile of the immigrant entrepreneurs to highlight their stories and showcase their businesses.
In Brantford, Masters of Social Work student Bharati Sethi decided to focus on the challenges that newcomers face in that community for her thesis. Her community-based approach included thousands of hours of interviews and a comprehensive survey to both newcomers and service providers. Building on this academic report, Ms. Sethi collaborated with the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie, Mohawk College and local service agencies to produce a booklet highlighting the individual stories of unemployed or underemployed newcomers to Brantford. The report, aimed at local employers, also provides information and resources for hiring newcomers.