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June 18, 2018
For Immediate Release

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Waterloo – World Refugee Day is June 20, at a time when governments in the United States and Europe are drawing attention for their policies regarding migrants. Wilfrid Laurier University has a number of experts available to comment on issues related to refugees and international migration.

Kim Rygiel, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and School of International Policy and Governance, is associate director of the International Migration Research Centre. She is an expert on citizenship politics, migration and asylum, and border security. She is available for comment on humanitarian aid responses to emergencies involving Syrian refugees in Turkey and on how communities can foster cultural pluralism. Contact: or 519.884.0710 x2032 or 416.254.7195. Read more about her work.

Bree Akesson, assistant professor of social work, is an expert on war-affected and refugee children and families. She is available for comment on refugee family issues in a variety of international contexts, including Afghanistan, Palestine, and Syria, as well as the effects of separating migrant children from their families in general. Contact: or 519.761.8022. Read more about her work.

Janet McLaughlin, associate professor in the Department of Health Studies and the Social Justice and Community Engagement master’s program, is an expert on transnational migration and migrant workers’ health. She is available for comment on the impacts of separation on migrant (not refugee) families. Contact:

Robert McLeman, associate professor of Geography and Environmental Studies, is an expert on environmental migration. A former Canadian foreign service officer, he has advised various governments and international agencies on issues related to climate change, migration, and security. He is available for comment on the effects of climate change and drought on migration patterns, including to Canada and the United States. Contact: or 519.884.1970 x2653.

Edmund Pries, assistant professor of Global Studies, Social Entrepreneurship, Religion and Culture, and Community Engagement, was born to a refugee family. He is an expert on peace, conflict and international humanitarian law. Contact: or 519.575.6866.

Simon Coulombe, assistant professor of psychology, is an expert on the promotion of individual, family and social well-being, particularly for marginalized people, including refugees and immigrants, LGBTQ people and people living with disabilities. He is fluent in English and French. Contact: or 519.884.0710 x3082.

Heidi Ahonen, professor of music therapy, registered psychotherapist and accredited music therapist, is an expert on practicing music therapy with adults suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological trauma. She is currently working with traumatized individuals, including refugees, using clinical improvisation, guided imagery and music. Contact:

Learn More

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Media Contacts:

Kevin Crowley, Director

Communications and Public Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University

T: 519.884.0710 x3070


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