Re-making a home in the Diaspora: Migration and Belonging

March 08, 2024

This presentation is sponsored by David Lam Centre, SFU's Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and SFU's Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

This collaborative panel explores the question: how does one go about re-making a home in the wake of protracted displacement? How do women’s engagement in diasporic settings (“here” and “there”) illuminate struggles as well as aspirations, dilemmas, and resolutions.

Drawing upon migratory and border-crossing journeys of Afghan women, we will explore how their embodied experiences highlight alternative ways of being; here, home is perceived as being entrenched within a social milieu, evoking rhythms, sights and sounds of everyday life that allows us to imagine a future free of strife and conflicts.

Further exploration of this theme will be invoked interactively with the audience through interweaving of stories, memories, photos, and autobiographies. The focus is to explore ways in which female migratory experiences contribute in rejuvenating families and communities to achieve a sense of belonging in the midst of losses.


Saida Hazhir

Saida Hazhir came to Canada in 1998. She worked as a nurse in various care homes and hospitals across the lower mainland and has dedicated her time to volunteering for her community. Saida has also worked to sponsor over 30 family members to come to Canada and supported them through their transition. Moreover, Saida has also started a pilot initiative project titled “Dukhtaran” with women in her community where they support women in rural parts of Afghanistan through monetary donations to support their education while also building meaningful relationships with the recipients. Saida is committed to being a lifelong learner and has also started taking counseling courses to further her education and better understand how to support her patients.

Gulalai Habib

Gulalai Habib has worked with displaced populations in Canada and abroad over 25 years. She was a former Program Officer with UNDP; experienced in community centered engagement in Central/South Asian regions; and involved with grassroots women’s mobilization and community organizing among displaced populations. Since coming to Canada as an Afghan refugee, she worked for over fourteen years with the Resettlement Assistance Program of ISSofBC, with direct oversight of the Syrian operation, and intimate involvement in the broader restructuring of Settlement sector spaces to include the lived expertise of refugee/migrant professionals. She went on in this capacity to cultivate a community-centered settlement vision, as a Director of Settlement & Employment at Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, as the Board of Directors of the national Women's Economic Council, and currently serve as the Director of Settlement and Integration Programs at Burnaby Neighbourhood House.

Shahnaz Qayumi

Shahnaz Qayumi, M.A. Developmental Psychology & Pedagogy, is a faculty of the Early Childhood Education department at Langara College. She received her Master's Certificate from the Harvard Program Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery (2014). In Afghanistan, she worked as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at Kabul University. However, because of the communist regime, she was forced to flee Afghanistan. She immigrated to Canada. Although she faced challenges such as language, cultural, and educational barriers, she established herself in the Canadian academic community. In 2012, she became the Chief Operating Officer of Partnership Afghanistan Canada. She builds the Center of Excellence for Innovation and Research for Kabul University. Shahnaz also writes for children.


Parin Dossa

Parin Dossa, Emerita Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University. Her published works include Afghanistan Remembers: Gendered Narrations of Violence and Culinary Practices (2014); The Circle Unfolds: Envisioning Social Justice from the Margins. Graphics Charlotte C. (2023); Social Palliation: Canadian Muslims' Storied Lives on Living and Dying (2020).