Each year, the Refugee Hub awards two Spotlight Grants to those undertaking academic research or developing projects on refugee-related issues at the University of Ottawa. A core tenet of the Refugee Hub’s mission is to foster a vibrant uOttawa community around refugee law and policy. To this end, Spotlight Grants aim to highlight and support the important work that leaders in our community are contributing in this area. Spotlight Grants contribute to the impact and profile of grantees’ initiatives by providing a modest financial contribution and communications support.

Our Call for Proposals comes out each fall!
Check back here for details.




As a matter of policy, Canadian refugee law offers special support to queers in need of safe haven, via a Joint Assistance Plan known among those who take advantage of it as the “Rainbow Refugee Assistance Plan” (RRAP).  It is well-known among those in the refugee communities that the Canadian government (troublingly, for some) “caps” the total number of refugees who can be privately sponsored in a year.  But, the RRAP is not subject to quotas, and this means that to the extent that private citizens are willing to do the work of sponsorship, queer refugees can find haven in Canada.

One challenge however is that the program is not a formal piece of refugee law, and rather survives (or not) by being renewed on a yearly basis.  As a result, each year, those of us in the greater Ottawa community committed to resettling queer refugees are asked to contribute comments to the House Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, to explain whether and why this program is an essential piece of Canada’s refugee program.  And each year, we come together to provide evidence that it is making a real difference in the lives of real people.  We lobby to have this arm of Canadian refugee law permanent.  We have been unsuccessful so far.

With support from the Refugee Hub, our project “Gambian queer refugees in Ottawa: Challenges and successes” will highlight the importance of protecting this program for the long-term, by highlighting the experiences of one particular population in need who is benefitting from it in profound ways. In collaboration with community organization Rainbow Haven, this initiative has four distinct objectives:

  1. To highlight the horrors facing the LBGTQ population in the Gambia, including their struggle to safe havens outside of their borders;
  2. To highlight the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Plan, which prioritizes LGBTQ refugees for admission to Canada, as well as the particular ways in which Gambian refugees have made use of this plan to relocate to Canada;
  3. To generate products that permit the consolidation of knowledge, and its sharing, among Gambian-origin queers in Ottawa, to ensure that the knowledge “first arrivals” have gathered can be passed on to those who are on their way;
  4. To increase knowledge among the queer community in Ottawa, including at the University of Ottawa, of the support they can offer to queer Gambians, and to mobilize this population around newcomers who need their specialized knowledge and experience.


AWARENESS-RAISING at uOttawa Campus:

I didn’t know freedom would be so cold: The hopes and challenges of LGBTI migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa to Canada

 The event, co-sponsored by the Centre for International Policy Studies and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, will give speakers a platform to outline the specific struggles faced by LGBTQ in Sub-Saharan Africa. Confirmed participants include Edward Lee, Université de Montréal and Marc Epprecht, Queen’s University.




In 2014, in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the University of Ottawa’s School of International Development and Global Studies (SIDGS) was tasked with developing a programme that would address specific issues facing those living in a protracted refugee crisis.

It was quickly established that there existed a critical lack of access to higher education so in conjunction with both the faculties of Education and Political Science, SIDGS began to develop the Community Mobilization in Crisis certificate program to address this problem. By combining in-class and community based learning with online technology and tools, CMIC aims to not only provide refugee populations with access to higher education but to improve the capacity of refugees to become agents of change in their own communities, particularly in areas where government services have broken down.

The CMIC program will provide 90 refugee and host community members in Lebanon with an accredited series of courses as a bridge to higher education, and will work with graduates to launch 26 new community mobilization projects in marginalized communities across Lebanon.

The initiative will develop and implement a 30-credit, 16-month university-level certificate program in the theory and practice of community mobilization in crisis situations, where students will combine online and in-class learning, community service learning with NGOs and established programs in their communities, and experience developing and implementing their own projects. We will collaborate with the American University of Beirut to offer courses, offer students resources, and benefit from their experience in working with refugee and vulnerable communities in Lebanon.

CMIC is built on a framework of “learning by doing” that will see students combine the theory they learn  with four levels of training that build the capacity and technical skills of participants to develop and implement interventions that address community needs:

  • Students will undergo four months of English language training to prepare them for the certificate program.
  • They will attend in class and online course that will focus on the theory and technical skills associated with the field of community mobilization.
  • Each student will take part in a one term practicum that will connect them to their local organizations and provide them with on-the-job knowledge.
  • The program will end with students having access to seed grants that will allow them to work with refugee and host communities in designing and implementing community mobilization initiatives.

With support from the Refugee Hub, our project “Community Mobilization in Crisis” will be able to host our partners from the American University of Beirut and organize an on-campus event for students and faculty that will bring exposure to this important and exciting initiative.