Displacements, Emergence and Change


Co-lead by Leah Levac and Deborah Stienstra, the Displacement, Emergence and Change cluster focuses on building inclusive cities, communities, towns and governance models to respond to displacements that result from resource extraction, lack of living wages, and other broad socioeconomic and political shifts and challenges. The cluster also examines how communities can be places where diverse families, livelihoods and all living environments thrive. The kinds of questions we think about include:

  • How/what are cities doing to build cultural / inclusive competencies?
  • How/what are cities doing to respond to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Recommendations?
  • What does linking knowledge systems mean for political science scholarship? What does is mean for policy development?
  • How/in what ways is resilience evident in (social, or any) policy planning?
  • How do communities respond (short-term and long-term) to displacements – resource development, climate change, historical and pervasive practices of colonialism…
  • When change or traditional ways of knowing emerge, how do communities respond to ensure families, livelihoods and living environments thrive?
    • Who responds? How are their responses taken up? Who is invisible in these responses? (Reconciliation, local food systems, transitional economies…)
  • How do we sustain community/university collaborations?
  • How do we live well?

Current and Future Projects:

The Wellbeing Experiences of Women and Girls in the Haisla Nation and Kitimat

Over the past three years, this collaboration between Tamitik Status of Women, the Haisla Nation, and the University of Guelph, has focused on better understanding diverse northern and Indigenous women’s wellbeing in times of rapid economic change, and on ensuring that local planning and decision-making better accounts for their experiences.

Storied Lives: Shifting Perspectives on Poverty

This project is a proposed partnership (2018-2019) between the Centre for Families, Work and Well-being (within the Displacements, Emergence and Change Research Cluster) and the Guelph & Wellington Poverty Task Force for Poverty Elimination that seeks to develop and share a collection of composite stories of those living in poverty in our community. Why stories? Stories have the power to transform narratives and shift perspectives on critical issues. Stories have the ability to shine a light on the different dimensions of complex experiences, such as living in poverty. Stories shared by families and individuals with different work and income experiences, with different life histories, contexts, and at different life stages are important. Such stories have the power to increase awareness, shift attitudes, and further system and policy change that address the root causes of poverty. With recent changes to addressing poverty in Ontario, humanizing the diverse stories of those living in poverty is now even more important. This project is an urgent, meaningful and inclusive response to the substantive political and social changes currently underway in Ontario.

Changing Public Services

Changes to public services in Canada have reshaped and narrowed support programs that serve broad groups of people. These changes have considerable impacts on the lives of women, as public sector employees and also as significant users of public services. Choices about how and what public services to change need to be examined using a gendered and intersectional lens.

Changing Public Services (CPS), was three year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded project, researching and documenting:

  • What we know about what is changing in public services
  • What the impacts are on diverse groups of women
  • What actions we can take to respond to these changes

For more infomation on the project, visit the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women.


Exploring Promising International Practices in Gener and Intersectional Impact Assessments

This knowledge synthesis project will inform best practices in environmental and impact assessments by turning to international literature for examples of promising practices to address gender and intersectionality or the ‘plus’ in gender-based analysis plus in impact assessments. Particular attention is paid to the experiences of historically marginalized groups who have more commonly experienced negative effects of resource extraction, including Indigenous women and two spirit persons, youth, and people with disabilities and whose expertise has not been often included in impact assessments. 

To date, there has been no collection of international literature related to gendered and intersectional impacts of resource extraction or of promising practices to address these impacts. Our research will tackle this significant gap and provide Canadians with alternative ways to address these critical issues by drawing on experiences in other countries. To achieve that, we will conduct a review of academic, policy and community literature from outside of Canada to identify and assess existing international practices in impact assessments. We will also reach out to key informants from organizations who have conducted and published work in this area to ask for further sources and ideas about promising practices.

We will draw together internationally-focused research, policy, practices, and proposals to highlight:

  1. participation and engagement processes and practices that attend to the inclusion of Indigenous women, youth, and others often excluded from the impact assessment processes;
  2. strategies for making resource-affected communities more inclusive of and safer for women, non-binary, transgender and two-spirit people, people with disabilities, and others; and
  3. engagement with Indigenous groups and/or Nations in ways that recognize nationhood (and relatedly, Indigenous knowledges).

This SSHRC-funded project is a partnership between the Live Work Well Research Centre, the University of Guelph, Amnesty International Canada, the Disabled Women's Network of Canada, the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, and Pauktuuit Inuit Women of Canada


Cluster Leaders:

Leah Levac

Deborah Stienstra


Become a Member!

Or, contact us for more information.