21st National Metropolis Conference

Doing Immigration Differently

March 21th - 23th 2019

Halifax Convention Centre

Doing Immigration Differently



MARCH 21-23, 2019

Halifax Convention Centre
1650 Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia

To view and download the submitted 2019 Metropolis Conference presentations  

Conference Co-Chairs

Jennifer Watts, 
CEO, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), Halifax, Nova Scotia

Professor Howard Ramos, 
Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology / Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Honourable Lena Metlege Diab, 
Q.C., ECNS, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Acadian Affairs & Francophonie, Government of Nova Scotia

Ms. Diab was first elected in 2013 to the Provincial Assembly representing Halifax Armdale, and appointed to Executive Council of Nova Scotia as the first female Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well as Minister of Immigration. In July 2015, the Immigration portfolio became her exclusive cabinet position. She was re-elected to the Legislature on May 30, 2017 and was appointed both Minister of Immigration, and Minister of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie. 

Ms. Diab is passionate about making Nova Scotia more diverse. Under her leadership, the province has welcomed more immigrants, strengthened its immigration program, and built global networks. 

She is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants to Canada and the eldest of six children. Born in Nova Scotia, she was raised in Lebanon for 8 years, and returned to Halifax in the face of civil war at the age of 11.

Prior to entering politics, she led a successful legal career for over 20 years. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science, a Masters of Public Administration and a law degree. In 2018, she was appointed the Queen’s Counsel designation— the appointment is awarded to members of the legal profession to recognize exceptional merit and outstanding contributions to the legal community.

Ms. Diab has received numerous honours and accolades, including: the Lebanese Chamber of Commerce in NS Professional Award, the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Progress Women of Excellence Award, and the Canadian Council of Ambassadors of the Arab League Award. 

Mike Savage, 
Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality

On October 15, 2016, Mike Savage was elected Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality for a second term based on a platform of sustained progress in making the Halifax region a place where residents can live, belong and thrive.

Mayor Savage was first elected on October 20, 2012, running on a platform to make Halifax the most liveable, entrepreneurial and inclusive city in the country; principles that continue to shape his work at City Hall and in the community.

Active member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Big City Mayors’ Caucus, Mike Savage is also a strong voice in support of local economic development, immigration, social equity, and infrastructure investment.

In October 2015, he was selected by his counterparts from across the country to co-chair the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Syrian refugee response task force. The role allowed him to draw on his long political experience to help draw cities together to share best practices in response to the Syrian refugee and resettlement.

Prior to his election as Mayor, Mr Savage served as Member of Parliament for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour from 2004 until 2011, during which time he played a national role as Official Opposition Critic for Human Resources, Social Development and Status of Persons with Disabilities.


From 7:30 am – 5:00 pm on March 21, 22 or 23.


Plenary 1: Thursday, March 21, 9:00 am - 10:30 am

The Role of Cities in Attracting and Settling Newcomers 

Immigration has largely been a policy consideration at the national level. In Canada, it has increasingly been a responsibility shared by provinces. However, it is at the community level that newcomers are physically welcomed and integrated. As urbanization rates continue to increase globally, cities play a more and more important role on the frontline of the settlement process. Plenary speakers will offer insights on the role played by cities in immigration. The opportunities and barriers faced by cities in working with immigrants, refugees, and other newcomers will also be considered. 

• Session Chair/Moderator: Professor Howard Ramos, Dalhousie University

• Mike Savage, Mayor of Halifax, Nova Scotia

• Dawn Arnold, Mayor of Moncton, New Brunswick

Véronique Lamontagne, International Relations Advisor, International Relations Office, City of Montreal 

• Professor Michael Haan, Western University, London, Ontario 

Plenary 2: Thursday, March 21, 10:45 am – 12:15 pm

Refugees and Asylum Seekers in North America: Policies, Practices and Partnerships

This plenary will identify and discuss the major challenges North America currently faces with regard to refugees and asylum seekers. Plenary speakers will look at how and why certain policies and practices have evolved in the continent in recent years. Panelists will look at the role the countries of the region play on the international stage around the admission of refugees. Speakers will suggest measures needed to enhance cooperation between countries when it comes to issues relating to refugees and asylum seekers, and/or propose policies that might ameliorate the conditions giving rise to ongoing refugee flows.

• Session Co-Chairs/Moderators: The Hon. Marlene Jennings, P.C., LLb., Montreal, Quebec / Adam Hunter, U.S. Chair, Metropolis North America and Migration Policy and Strategy Consultant, Washington, D.C.

• Anne Richard, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration in the Obama Administration (2012-2017),  Washington, DC, USA 

• Agustin Escobar Latapi, Director General, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City, Mexico  

• Dr. Julia Gelatt, Senior Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute, Washington, DC, USA

• Professor François Crépeau, Director, Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

Plenary 3: Friday, March 22, 9:00 am - 10:30 am

Shaping the story of Refugees and Immigrants in the News

Over the last decade, immigration has becoming increasingly politicized and the media has played a front and centre role in shaping the story of newcomers and their experiences in Canada. This plenary engages journalists, academics and service providers who work in the field and/or cover newcomer issues in the news. Plenary speakers will reflect on the shifts in popular discourse around asylum seekers, refugees, and openness to immigrants. Speakers will analyze the conflicting perceptions and misconceptions in today’s shifting political climates.

• Session Chair/Moderator: Celine Cooper, Concordia University / former columnist with the Montreal Gazette, Montreal, Quebec

• Louisa Taylor, Director, Refugee 613, Ottawa, Ontario

• Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press, Halifax, Nova Scotia

• Professor Kelly Toughill, Polestar Immigration Research, University of King's College, former journalist and deputy executive editor of The Toronto Star / past director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and a current director of the Gordon Sinclair Foundation, Halifax, Nova Scotia

• Madeline Ziniak, Chair, Canadian Ethnic Media Association / Chair, Ontario Canadian Broadcast Standards Council / Former Broadcast Executive, Toronto, Ontario

Plenary 4: Saturday, March 23, 9:00 am - 10:30 am

Immigration on the Margins

While an overwhelming majority of immigrants land in Canada’s three major cities, our country’s secondary cities and regions are experiencing population declines because of low birth rates, out-migration, and difficulty in attracting newcomers. This plenary examines immigration issues in secondary regions, looking at the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program and other innovative measures to attract immigrants to communities outside of the biggest metropoles. Panelists will offer perspectives on new programs, demographics, and experiences from the government, academic and service providing sectors.

• Session Chair/Moderator, Dr. Harjeet Bhabra, Dean of the Sobey School of Business, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

• Professor Barry Edmonston, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia

• Ken Walsh, Association for New Canadians, Corner Brook, Newfoundland

• Cathy Woodbeck , Executive Director, Thunder Bay Multicultural Association, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Lara Dyer, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Ottawa, Ontario and Shelley Bent, Nova Scotia Office of Immigration

In addition to the four plenary sessions, the conference will feature over 140 workshop, panel, round table and poster sessions to be posted February 1, 2019. Note that this year the conference will run from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on all three days.

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