NorQuest’s two-year Settlement Studies diploma is unique among post-secondary programs within Canada. Graduates of the program are aptly able to apply the knowledge, skills, and competencies they have learned through their coursework as well as through extensive work integrated learning opportunities to their work with newcomers to Canada. The program is the first of its kind in Western Canada, and as innovators, NorQuest faculty and staff have undertaken the opportunity to develop an open educational resource (OER) textbook, Canadian Settlement in Action: History and Future. The purpose of the OER is to provide complementary content and resources for learners enrolled in NorQuest’s Settlement Studies diploma program as well as to contribute to the settlement field in general.


In the Spring of 2021, a talented group of individuals with expertise and experience in the settlement sector contributed to the development of the textbook. A call for chapter writers was advertised widely and an expert team of writers was assembled. The writers, together with in-house experts at the college, came together at time when conditions for collaboration were challenging due to the global pandemic. The team demonstrated flexibility and commitment to the project despite working remotely across various media and online platforms: Their shared dedication, enthusiasm, and commitment to work in the settlement field is reflected in the chapters of the book. Each writer brings a unique set of skills and intellectual acumen acquired through academia, hands-on experience, and a deep commitment to caring for newcomer populations who choose Canada as their home.

Following the success and recognition of the original textbook, our team was inspired to write an additional three chapters in the Spring of 2022. As a follow up to the initial five chapters, our team of subject matter experts continued to write on important concepts which provide broader insights on settlement in Canada and direct applicability to the settlement worker profession.  


The OER textbook is not meant to be a comprehensive exploration of this dynamic and multifaceted field, but rather, as an introduction to issues of importance in the settlement sector. Maria MacMinn Varvos situates the history of settlement services in Canada, including a look at delivery models and perspectives on the value of settlement services. She writes an additional chapter which explores the settlement experiences of low-literacy female learners in Canada. Alexandru Caldararu, the founder of and instructor within NorQuest’s Settlement Studies diploma program, introduces and situates social justice and anti-oppressive practice in settlement worker practice. An avid proponent of battling climate change, he also writes a chapter on climate migration. Christina Hamer presents types of migration-related trauma and the mental health challenges many newcomers face before arriving in Canada. Rennais Gayle discusses the settlement experiences of older arriving immigrants, particularly focusing on family dynamics. In her chapter, Julie Clements provides an overview of how settlement workers can effectively navigate intercultural communication contexts. Lynn Sutankayo’s chapter covers the intriguing topic of gender, sexuality, and culture as it relates to the settlement landscape. While the textbook chapters can be read in the order presented, each chapter presents a unique issue and can also be enjoyed in non-sequential order.


It is with great delight and excitement that we share with you the OER textbook, Canadian Settlement in Action: History and Future. The intention of the project is not only to enhance student learning within our Settlement Studies program, but also to evoke discussions and questions that serve to improve the quality of settlement services across Canada and beyond. It is dedicated to all who take interest in the history and future of settlement.


Wendy Chambers, Ph.D., Academic Program Manager

Faculty of Foundational Skills and Learning, NorQuest College


Oscar Vergara, Ed.D. (candidate), Program Chair

Settlement Studies, NorQuest College


September 30, 2021 

Updated November 10, 2022

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