2021, Innovations in Research

Equity Is NOW

Innovation for Migrant Justice

What if we didn't need to wait for equity? What if we could make present-moment changes that activate equity now? In our research on the experiences of racialized migrant communities engaged in systems change, we demonstrate that shifting narratives, power relations, access to information and resources are key levers that researchers, innovators and other stakeholders can engage to activate patterns that support equity now, rather than at some unnamed time in the future.

We have run two rounds of a social innovation prototype called "Beyond Borders," which engages racialized migrant people to design, develop and test their own social impact projects. We are engaged in an outcomes and developmental evaluation of this prototype. The impacts to date include: 52 racialized migrants who have developed 43 social impact projects/ventures and engaged over 500 community members in in-depth dialogue around the barriers/enablers to creating lives of meaning as refugee and immigrant communities; increased sense of confidence, enhanced networks, belonging and solidarity between communities; and organizational alignment towards equity in the host organization, including completing a Justice, Equity and Diversity Audit which resulted in significant internal changes in staffing, processes and practices to embody an equity lens now.

Our work pushes the edges of traditional social innovation research and practice by centring equity in the design process. We hope to share our learnings, tools and frames for action to inspire critical reflection that can address the tendency of research and innovation to evade the necessary conversation on the dynamics of power, historical relations between communities, ethnocentrism, salvationism and paternalism which pervade the field.

About the project

Presentation at Innovations in Research, April 13, 2021

Nada El Masry
Yara Younis

Refugee Livelihood Lab, RADIUS SFU

Leadership by impacted communities, decolonial social innovation, migration, anti-racism


Nada El Masry

Nada El Masry (she/her/hers) is a Libyan-born Palestinian who came to the unceded land of the Coast Salish peoples just over 10 years ago. Due to her life experiences and education, Nada has fostered a deep passion for social justice and has shaped her life goals around values rooted in that field. She has been working with and engaging newcomers for several years and is currently the project manager at RADIUS Refugee Livelihood Lab, which aims to build social, economic and political capital for racialized refugee and migrant communities.

In addition to working with RADIUS, Nada is also involved in other programs and initiatives including the Inner Activist, World University Services of Canada, SFU CCMS Muslim Fellowship and the Fresh Voices Initiative. Nada is also pursuing a Master’s in Equity Studies in Education at SFU. In her free time, Nada enjoys playing, watching and talking about soccer.

Yara Younis

Born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Yara is a Palestinian refugee who had felt detached from her "home" in the Gaza Strip for the longest time. Now, having spent years contemplating and unlearning colonial narratives, she considers the meaning of statelessness, as well as how systems of power co-opt and shape refugee experiences. Prior to settling on unceded Coast Salish lands, Yara worked at the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi as a MENA research analyst and as the deputy advisor and project coordinator for the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. She completed her MA in International Studies at Simon Fraser University, where she was a Researcher for the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies. In her spare time, Yara enjoys reading sci-fi, listening to heavy metal, and walking for long hours to nowhere in particular.

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