In the 1980s, Canada was the first country to accept large numbers of Baha’i refugees from Iran in the wake of the Islamic revolution. Although this refugee program successfully settled approximately 2,300 refugees, and later served as a model for a wider settlement of approximately 10,000 Baha’i refugees in 25 other countries, it did not receive widespread public attention at the time.
The symposium will bring together researchers and key individuals involved in the Iranian Baha’i Refugee movement of the 1980s to develop an agenda for the study of this largely overlooked episode. Panel discussions will situate this experience in the history of Canada’s refugee policy and the field of migration and diaspora studies. They will examine it as an innovative model of immigrant integration and dedicated work by officials in the context of internationalist ideals of Canadian public policy. They will also consider the diverse personal experiences of forced migration and identity negotiation in a diaspora community.
This gathering will launch a two to three year collaborative public history research project supported by the Baha’i Community of Canada, the Carleton Department of History, the Carleton Centre for Public History, the Migration and Diaspora Studies Initiative at Carleton University and the Canadian Immigration Historical Society. The symposium and the wider research project will be of interest to the public policy community and academics with interests in migration, immigration, refugees, policy development, the Baha’i Community, Iranian diaspora, cultural identity or refugee settlement.