Ugandan Asian refugees who arrived in Canada between 1972 and 1974 were the largest group of non-European and predominately Muslim refugees to arrive in Canada before the official creation of formal refugee policy in 1976. This study by Dr. Shezan Muhammedi is the first academic one on the resettlement, integration, and identities of the Ugandan Asian refugees who have been living in Canada for over 40 years.
Dr. Muhammedi refutes the essentialization of refugees as subjects to be admitted based on a nation’s political leanings, national security interests, and varying domestic concerns. As refugees have transitioned to becoming active Canadian citizens, the project uses a direct case study to recapture the life histories of these refugees. Their expressions of self demonstrate how individuals can be dedicated nationals of a country while maintaining cultural, ethnic, and religious ties.
Access full Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository here
Listen to a podcast on Expulsion@50, where Dr. Shezan Muhammedi shares his story. Expulsion@50 is a podcast series that has been created to mark the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of Asians from Uganda.
About Dr Shezan Muhammedi:
Dr. Shezan Muhammedi completed his Ph.D. in History and Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of Western Ontario in April 2017. His dissertation explores the resettlement of Ugandan Asian refugees in Canada in the 1970s. His mother’s family came to Ottawa, Ontario as Ugandan Asian refugees in late October of 1972 fuelling his passion for displaced peoples and vulnerable communities. He is currently working with the University of Manitoba press to publish a manuscript that is an adapted version of his doctoral dissertation. He also worked closely with Carleton University’s MacOdrum Library team as an advisor to their Uganda Collection which features archival material, newspapers, and oral histories of Ugandan Asian refugees.
Upon completion of his Ph.D., Dr. Muhammedi spent four years working for an international non-profit organization called Focus Humanitarian Assistance under the Aga Khan Development Network as a Program Officer on the European Settlement Support Program. He led a team of 15 caseworkers who worked on a one-to-one basis with refugees who settled in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The program aimed to support newly arrived asylum seekers and refugees in Europe by offering assistance in securing legal status, finding accommodations, mastering the national language, and entering pathways to employment.
Currently, Dr. Muhammedi works for the Government of Canada as a policy analyst.