The annual Metropolis Conference in Canada for 2018 took place in Calgary from March 22-24 at the Westin Calgary Hotel. The overall theme to this year’s gathering was Immigration Futures: Marking 20 years of the National Metropolis Conference. The conference included plenary sessions, over 60 workshops and roundtables, poster sessions, and associated events. Attendance was over 750 persons from the academic community across Canada, governments at all levels, and civil society organizations, most of which were immigrant serving agencies. A message was delivered by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, and the Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi both participated in a plenary session and hosted a welcoming reception at the Calgary City Hall. The full program can be downloaded at https://www.metropolisconference.ca/en/index.php.
The associated event that took place the day prior to the conference was the Journée de réflexion sur l’immigration francophone which covers issues of francophone immigrant recruitment and retention outside Quebec. This associated preforum event has taken place with the Metropolis Conference for many years and has become a mainstay event in the area of migration and integration management. In addition to this event and the planning meeting on Metropolis North America mentioned below, there was a planning meeting for Metropolis Pacific Rim, a relatively new addition to the Metropolis agenda and one that will complement the existing initiative, Metropolis Asia.
The first plenary session was on the topic, Canada-Europe collaboration on migration research: Perspectives and opportunities. The speakers were:
- Yuri Borgmann-Prebil, Policy Officer, Citizenship and Inequalities European Commission, Migration-related research under Horizon 2020
- Brent Herbert-Copley, Executive Vice-President, SSHRC, Mechanisms to support Canadian engagement
- Michael Ungar, Dalhousie University and Lori Wilkinson, University of Manitoba, Lessons learned and opportunities for Canada-Europe collaboration
- Craig Smith, Deputy Director, The Global Migration Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
- Umit Kiziltan, Director General of Research & Evaluation, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
During this session, SSHRC and the European Commission noted the new co-operative program in migration research that allows Canadians to be funded as part of EU research projects.
The second plenary session was on the topic, Migration policy in Canada, USA and Mexico: rethinking the boundaries. The speakers were:
- Fraser Valentine, Director General, Refugee Affairs Branch, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- Michael Dougherty, Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade, US Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Andrew Selee , President, Migration Policy Institute, Washington
- Dr. Claudia Masferrer, Assistant Professor, Centro de Estudios Demográficos, Urbanos y Ambientales, El Colegio de México, Mexico City / Adjunct professor, Department of Sociology, McGill University
- Adam Hunter, U.S. Chair, Metropolis North America and Migration Policy and Strategy Consultant, Washington, D.C.
- Howard Duncan, Executive Head, Metropolis
- Chair: Corinne Prince, Director General, Integration Branch, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada
The discussion was around the potential for inter-state co-operation on migration policy and programming, and the dominant sentiment was that despite the current NAFTA negotiations which largely ignore immigration, the time has never been better for such co-operation. It should be noted that in addition to the plenary session, the conference included a planning meeting of the project, Metropolis North America. The next conference of this project will take place in Mexico in September, 2018 and it will seek to promote enhanced co-operation on migration management within North America.
The third plenary session was titled, Immigration and Integration in Alberta: The Role of the Province and Cities. It is normal for the conference to highlight immigration and integration work being done in the host location. Alberta has experienced a spike in immigration over the past 10 – 15 years, and the speakers discussed the benefits of this increased immigration to the province and to the city of Calgary as well as the integration challenges that it has posed. The speakers were:
- Naheed Nenshi, Mayor, of Calgary, Alberta
- Barry Morishita, Mayor of Brooks, Alberta
- Fariborz Birjandian, CEO, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
- Chair: Karen Young, President and CEO, United Way of Calgary and Area
The final plenary session was on the topic, Immigration Futures: Canada 2041. The principal issue was that of immigration levels that best suit Canada’s needs. This final session linked Metropolis to the continuing high level discussion within the Government of Canada on the future of immigration as an instrument of economic development and population growth. The link between Metropolis and the Century Initiative was further reinforced by this plenary session. Speakers included:
- Ruben Nelson, Futurist, Executive Director, Foresight Canada, Lac Des Arcs, Alberta
- Martha Hall Findlay, President and CEO, Canada West Foundation
- Irvin Studin, Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of Global Brief magazine/ President of the Institute for 21st Century Questions
- The Hon. Senator Yuen Pau Woo, The Senate of Canada
The 2019 conference will be held in Halifax.