Her volunteer work has involved both mental health counseling and practical support for people making refugee claims.
As well, she has been a committed advocate. In 2012, she wrote and presented briefs documenting the potential harms of a federal government plan to overhaul the refugee protection system. Jordan says the new legislation, enacted in 2013 despite objections from community advocates and scholars, does not give LGBTQ refugees enough time to organize for their refugee hearing, and has resulted in increased use of prolonged detention. This summer, she also wrote an affidavit for a federal court case involving two gay men from Croatia. Ultimately, it helped to quash parts of the new refugee act that denied the right to appeal for refugee claimants from designated countries of origin, many of them violently homophobic.
She says the Peace award “is very moving for me. A couple of my students got together with refugee members to do the nomination—it’s my community work and academic work coming together.”
Jordan’s refugee volunteerism is nowhere near finished however.
“Most of the refugee mental health literature continues to presume that refugees are straight. There’s very little on the mental health implications for LGBTQ refugee protection and settlement.”
In the long term, says Jordan, “I want to develop ways for refugees themselves to be part of the research process and inform it. I want to look longitudinally at ways that people and communities can better organize to sustain themselves in terms of opportunities for healing from trauma, and for a greater sense of social connectedness and belonging.”
That’s why she’s now involved in Our Communities, Our Voices—a project in Surrey that has trained young refugees to help conduct and interpret focus groups to identify communities’ priorities for settlement and integration supports. The focus group participants include refugees settling in Surrey, with groups for Arabic, Karen, Spanish and Swahili speakers as well as focus groups for LGBTQ refugees, privately sponsored refugees, service providers, and City of Surrey decision makers.