Graphic recording supported a new community-based research project in Surrey BC about refugee settlement and integration needs, called Our Community, Our Voice. The project is part of the City of Surrey’s Local Immigration Partnership initiative and is and funded by Citizenship & Immigration Canada.
It was an eye- (and heart-) opening day. I heard more refugees settle in Surrey than anywhere else in BC. That Surrey schools are adjusting to support young people who come directly from refugee camps. That in our strained rental market in the Lower Mainland, it’s even harder to find housing for a large family. But this isn’t to say it’s all about the challenges: there’s an incredible resilience in refugee communities. Here’s part of the graphic recording from the day: you can see how health, education, employment, social services are interconnected. Addressing one set of issues requires an integrated approach, with a specific focus on refugees who have different needs than newcomers who arrive under different circumstances.
Visual facilitation is always a great choice to support cross-cultural communication, problem-solving and dialogue. This event used two visual activities: graphic recording and a custom, 15-foot interactive timeline activity about the refugee settlement process.
The research team at SFU Surrey and I also developed a giant timeline using a water metaphor about the refugee settlement process, from pre-arrival and into a 5-year journey. We thought water could be a metaphor for talking about rocky seas, calm experiences, turbulent waves, and what was a life-preserver. Participants worked in groups to identify key milestones, and added them with post-it notes. I created a final copy by redrawing their notes, right there in the moment.
I’m always excited to support community-based research projects – this means truly researching with communities, and not just about them. It takes more time, but it’s more ethical.
“A key highlight of the day was the introduction of 11 community peer research assistants (RAs) hired for the project, many of whom are recent refugees from Africa, South America and South East Asia. The RAs will ensure the development and implementation of the OCOV project is grounded to the knowledge and expertise that can only comes from having been there.”