Immigration, Culture and Placemaking

Picture of Manvinder Gill.

Manvinder Gill

Program of Study: Master's of Social Work

Project Title: A Mirror and a Heart: Understanding Care through Global Sikh Perspectives

Manvinder Kaur Gill is a community researcher whose work is centered on the intersections of religion, race, and health equity. She holds an MA in religious studies from McMaster University where her thesis focused on understanding the intersections of alcohol and Sikhi, particularly considering influences of colonialism, gender, and trauma. She is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work at the University of Toronto and is interested in understanding indigenous Panjabi and Sikh forms of healing for addiction treatment. Her work aims to reimagine colonial narratives and direct energy towards frameworks of love, justice, and gratitude.



Picture of Shervin Ghaem-Magham.

Shervin Ghaem-Maghami

Program of Study: PhD in Geography and Planning

Project Title: Integrating Migrants through Inclusive Planning and Local Decision-Making Practices

Shervin Ghaem-Maghami is a second-year doctoral Planning student in the Department of Geography and Planning. His research interests centre on public participation in urban planning practice and newcomer relocation and settlement in the Greater Toronto Area. Shervin holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Waterloo and Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University. His prior professional experience includes positions in the Government of Ontario—including at the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and the Ministry of Transportation—as well as roles in local government and the private and non-profit sectors.


Picture of Charmain Wong.

Charmain Wong

Program of Study: Bachelor's of Arts in Architectural Studies

Project Title: 510 Spadina: Documenting Toronto’s Chinatown as a Contested Space of Cultural Placemaking

Charmain is a fourth-year Architectural Studies student at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. She loves thinking about the complex, layered workings of the city, and finds fascinating the ways in which urban form has a direct impact on how we live, work, and play in the city. She believes in design as a powerful tool for positive social impact. Charmain is passionate about the creation of spaces that are equitable and attentive to the needs of the communities using them, rooted in a practice of engaged dialogue and listening. Her interests lie in the ways in which space intersects with cultural identity, belonging, diasporic communities, and race. She sees storytelling as the best approach to understand complex urban issues in a deeply nuanced, human way.


Picture of Michelle Zhang.

Michelle (Yong Yi) Zhang

Program of Study: Bachelor's of Arts in Urban Studies, Peace, Conflict & Justice, and Human Geography

Project Title: Plugged In: Space, Place, and Belonging in a Virtual World

Michelle is an undergraduate student specializing in Urban Studies, majoring in Peace, Conflict and Justice, and minoring in Human Geography. She is interested in placemaking, belonging, and urban innovation. She developed a keen interest in comparative smart and global city development while on exchange to Singapore, which she investigated further through the Asian Institute’s Insights Through Asia Challenge. She is currently developing a digitally activated urban consultation tool capable of bridging the gap between communities and decision-makers. An active student leader, she takes her work in community development beyond academia and into the lives of people around her.


Picture of Neha Dhaliwal.

Neha Dhaliwal

Program of Study: Bachelor's of Arts in Peace, Conflict, & Justice and Human Geography

Project Title: The Multicultural Metropolis: Participatory Planning and Diversity in Canadian Cities

Neha is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Peace, Conflict, & Justice and Human Geography. Through her studies at the University of Toronto, she has developed a strong interest in migration geographies and immigration policy, which she has channelled into many of her endeavours. She has recently completed an internship with Jumpstart Refugee Talent, where she helped coordinate their national professional mentorship program for refugees. She is also a Co-Director of the 2021 Peace, Conflict, and Justice student conference, entitled: “The Changing Landscape of Global Health: Unpacking the Dimensions of Health Crises and Response in a COVID-19 World”.