Conference Program 

Draft: Subject to change

8:30 am - 9:00 am Registration and Networking
9:00 am - 9:10 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
Conference Chair, Hassan Vatanparast, MD, PhD, University of Saskatchewan and David Ma, PhD, University of Guelph, CNS Past-President
9:10 am - 9:40 am Why Focus on Nutrition and Health Status of Newcomers
Speaker: Hassan Vatanparast, MD, PhD, University of Saskatchewan

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The rates of immigration to Canada are considerably increasing through the new initiatives by the federal government. Further, the recent influx of refugees from conflict regions, Syria in particular, and their settlement in large and small urban and rural areas, emerge concerns regarding their basic needs, particularly access to culturally appropriate and affordable food and access to nutritional care. Concerns about the nutritional health of refugees from a high prevalence of food insecurity and consumption of low quality food to their short and long-term consequences such as obesity, diabetes, and risk of cardiovascular diseases are directly relevant to academics and practitioners in the field of nutrition and health. An overview of the nutritional status of immigrant and refugees in Canada will be provided. Also, the need for more readiness for culturally appropriate care as well as research and scholarly activities will be discussed.

About the speaker:

Hassan is a professor of Nutritional Epidemiology with a joint appointment in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition and the School of Public Health. He investigates the impact of nutrition and other lifestyle factors on chronic conditions in vulnerable populations.

Hassan is heavily involved in immigration health as a researcher, cultural competency consultant, and volunteer in community-based settlement agencies. Through Healthy Immigrant initiative, Hassan and his team conducted the first comprehensive study evaluating the nutritional health of newcomer children, access to care in newcomer families and cultural competency skills among healthcare professionals in Saskatchewan. He is also leading a multi-country study evaluating food security status of refugees with over 50 co-investigators, graduate students, and research personnel. Recently, through the current grants, Hassan and colleagues are evaluating the food security status of recent Syrian refugees in Saskatoon and Toronto. Hassan and his team are hoping to create a network of researchers, policymakers, practitioners and the community to improve the nutritional health of new Canadians.

9:40 am - 10:10 am Plenary Session #1  
Perspectives on Culturally Sensitive Nutritional Care - Cultural Competency in Dietetic Education
- Link: Linking Immigrants with Nutritional Knowledge

Moderated by:   Rosanne Blanchet RD, PhD , University of Alberta, Hassan Vatanparast, MD PhD, University of Saskatchewan,
Ginny Lane RD,MA, PhD University of Saskatchewan/Government of Saskatchewan
10:10 am - 10:30 am Q&A 
10:30 am - 11:00 am - COFFEE BREAK / NETWORKING  
11:00 am - 11:30 am Food Security Status of Refugees in Canada: A Social Perspective
Speaker: Bruce Newbold, PhD, McMaster University

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Traditional foods and ways of eating are a product of ecology, customs, and traditions that are tied to individual and cultural identity. But immigrating to a new country can bring about a loss of comfort, familiarity, and identity, including the loss of access to traditional foods. As much as possible, maintaining foodways may be an important component in maintaining one’s identity in their adopted country. Ultimately, food security and access to traditional foods can contribute to improved physical and mental health. For refugees, however, maintaining foodways may be a challenge due to low income, high food prices, lack of transportation and other barriers. As a result, household food insecurity is experienced by many refugees as they transition to life in Canada. By considering concepts of food availability, access, and use, this presentation will focus on the intersection between culture – which strongly influences food and eating – and food insecurity amongst refugees.

About the speaker:

Dr. Bruce Newbold is a Professor of Geography and the Director of the School of Geography and Earth Sciences (SGES) at McMaster University. He earned his PhD from McMaster in 1994, and has worked at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before returning to McMaster in 2000. He has held guest scholar positions at the University of California San Diego and in the University of Glasgow’s Social and Public Health Sciences Unit. His research interests focus on population health issues, including aging and newcomer issues, including extensive work with Hamilton’s refugee and immigrant communities. As the former Director of the McMaster Institute of Environment & Health (MIEH, 2004-2013), Dr. Newbold worked closely with Hamilton Public Health Services on various topics, including water and air pollution, food safety, and other topics. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed papers, along with two textbooks on population issues.

11:30 am  - 12:00 pm Cultural Food (In)security among Immigrants and Refugees
Speakers: Tina Moffat, PhD, McMaster University

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Household food insecurity is experienced by immigrants and refugees living in Canada at a higher prevalence than non-immigrants. Though culture strongly influences and is affected by food and eating, little is known about the interaction between culture and immigrant food insecurity. Using the concept of ‘cultural food security’, we investigated the three pillars of food security (food availability, food access, and food use) for immigrants and refugees living in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Multiple perspectives of the challenges and facilitators of obtaining and eating both nutritious and culturally satisfying food were gathered through interviews with both service provider representatives and immigrants and refugees. Findings illustrate that cultural factors are integral to satisfying each of the three pillars of food security for immigrants and refugees. Efforts are required to assist immigrants and refugees in acquiring appropriate resources to improve and eliminate their food security challenges, and optimize their health and well-being. 

About the speaker:

Dr. Tina Moffat is an associate professor and chair in the department of anthropology at McMaster. With research perspectives grounded in biocultural and political-economic approaches, her research focusses on child health and nutrition, food insecurity, and environmental health. Dr. Moffat does community-based research; currently, she is a co-investigator on a CIHR-funded study called “Mothers to Babies”, which examines knowledge translation and support for pregnant women regarding maternal diet and child health outcomes.    Other recent work, funded by CIHR, is “Changing Homes, Changing Food” that investigated dietary change and food insecurity among newcomers to Hamilton, Ontario.  

12:00 pm - 12:20 pm Q&A
12:20 pm - 1:20 pm - LUNCH / NETWORKING   
1:20 pm - 1:50 pm Refugees and escalation of food insecurity: A new agenda for development and peace
Speakers: Mustafa Koç, Ryerson University 

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This paper will focus on the destabilizing impacts of refugee waves on food security in neighbouring countries. It will be argued that food security needs to be viewed as a regional issue, escalating beyond national borders of the source country. Many mitigating factors such as wars, civil unrest, climatic change, financial and economic crises continue to keep food insecurity as a global concern. Despite significant progress in some parts of the world, food insecurity impacts the lives of 812 million people according to the latest FAO estimations.
One of the recent factors that result in the rise of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America is due to increasing incidents of forced population movements. UNHCR numbers indicate that an estimated 68.5 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide. Of these, 25.4 million are refugees and 3.1 million are asylum seekers. Most of host countries of the refugee waves are in the developing world and can only provide limited assistance. Moreover, large number of refugees create risks of food insecurity and political instability in these countries.
Can Canada play a more proactive role in the fight against global food insecurity and humanitarian emergencies beyond admitting some of the refugees to the country? As a nation recognized for its peacekeeping efforts in the past, could Canada may assume a role in establishing a global compact for development, food and water security, and peace keeping to support economic, political and environmental resilience of vulnerable regions? In my presentation I will explore some of the potential policy measures to prevent escalation of regional humanitarian crises to global emergencies.

About the speaker:

Mustafa Koc is a professor of Sociology at Ryerson University. His research and teaching interests involve food studies, food security, food policy, and sociology of migration. Professor Koc was among the founders of the Centre for Studies in Food Security, Food Secure Canada, and the Canadian Association for Food Studies. His publications on sociology of agriculture and food, social change and development, and immigration, include For Hunger-proof Cities (1999), Working Together (2001), Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Food Studies (2008), Küresel Gıda Düzeni: Kriz Derinleşirken (2013) and Critical Perspectives in Food Studies (2012 and 2017). His current research focuses on culinary practices and food security and food safety concerns of immigrants and refugees. He has also been involved in various national and global debates on globalization, food security, and peace. Prof. Koc received the Provost’s Interdisciplinary Teaching Award ( 2014) and the Ryerson Faculty Association’s Career Achievement Award (2016), the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement award by the Canadian Association for Food Studies (2017) and Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Volunteer Service Award (2017).

1:50 pm - 2:20 pm  Plenary Session #2
Social Integration and Food Security, Where are we at? Focusing on policies and community-based initiatives
Moderated by: Mahasti Khakpour, MSc, PhD(c), University of Saskatchewan, Ali Abukar, ED Saskatoon Open Door Society
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm  Q&A 
2:40 pm - 3:10 pm - COFFEE BREAK / NETWORKING  
3:10 pm - 3:40 pm Mother and Child Nutritional Health in Black Newcomer Families - A Community-based Initiative
Speaker: Rosanne Blanchet, PhD, RD, University of Alberta

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New Canadians face a disproportionately high risk of developing obesity or diet-related chronic diseases. Yet, very little research has examined the diet of their children even though they may be at greater risk of adopting a Westernized diet and experiencing the associated consequences. This presentation will discuss the nutritional health and social determinants of eating habits of Black immigrant mothers and children of Caribbean and African origin living in Ottawa.

About the speaker:

Dr. Rosanne Blanchet is a Registered Dietitian with a certificate in Public Health Nutrition from Université Laval and a PhD in Population Health from the University of Ottawa. Her research seeks to understand the determinants of eating habits and the social determinants of health of populations undergoing rapid cultural changes and/or vulnerable for health disparities (e.g., Indigenous peoples, immigrants, refugees, low-income households). Her doctoral research focused on the relationships between acculturation, ethnicity, and nutritional health of school-aged immigrant children of African and Caribbean descent living in Ottawa.

Dr. Blanchet is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta with Dr. Noreen Willows. Her postdoctoral research aims to understand the outcomes of an Indigenous food sovereignty initiative that reintroduced sockeye salmon in the Okanagan Basin on Syilx culture, well-being, food security, and diet. Her objective is to eventually develop interventions aiming to help prevent chronic diseases and consequently reduce health inequities affecting immigrant and Indigenous populations in Canada.

3:40 pm - 3:50 pm  Q&A 
3:50 pm - 4:50 pm Workshop #1  
Professional Dietetic Practice in Multicultural Settings
Moderated by:  Rosanne Blanchet, University of Alberta;  Ginny Lane, University of Saskatchewan/ Government of Saskatchewan; and Marianne Lefebvre, President, Integration Nutrition
4:50 pm - 5:00 pm Concluding Remarks - Hassan Vatanparast


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The North American Refugee Health Conference (NARHC) is the largest refugee health conference of its kind globally, and offers access to recent research, best practices in refugee health, and a great opportunity for networking. The 2019 conference will be held in Toronto from June 14-16. To learn more, CLICK HERE 

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