Our Community, Our Voice research assistant Mohamed Muktar Mussa (left) and SFU's Surrey campus executive director Steve Dooley (right) speaking at the Surrey Social Innovation Summit 2015.

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SFU’s Our Community, Our Voice project driving university-community engagement in Surrey

November 26, 2015
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SFU’s Surrey campus executive director Steve Dooley was one of 17 panelists at the City of Surrey’s inaugural Social Innovation Summit on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at Surrey City Hall.  

Along with research assistant and recent refugee Mohamed Muktar Mussa, Dooley shared SFU’s Our Community, Our Voice (OCOV) project at a panel discussion that centred on university-community engagement for social innovation. The session was moderated by SFU RADIUS (RADical Ideas Useful to Society) director Shawn Smith.

OCOV is a community-based research project based at SFU’s Surrey campus led by Dooley and funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada through the City of Surrey’s Local Immigration Partnership.

“In OCOV we are working with 11 different community partner agencies to establish a clear plan for meeting both the short- and long-term needs of refugees coming to the city of Surrey,” says Dooley.

Nine community peer research assistants, including Mussa, are working on the project and many are recent refugees from Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. 

Dooley says it was important to him that refugees were hired on as research assistants.

“This ensures the development and implementation of the OCOV project is grounded in the knowledge and expertise that can only comes from having been there,” he says. “The project is also playing a small but significant role in helping them find their voice, to establishing their own direction forward and will enable them to support others in their community.”

OCOV launched in March and its findings will be released in February 2016.

Also speaking at the summit were SFU’s Vice-President Research Joy Johnson and applied sciences professor Ryan D’Arcy. Johnson shared the University’s innovation strategy—SFU Innovates, while D’Arcy offered insight into Innovation Boulevard’s role as a social innovator in Surrey.

D’Arcy is the co-chair of Innovation Boulevard, a partnership co-founded by SFU with the goal of improving health care through accelerating innovation in medical devices, independent living and digital health.