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Settlement 3.0 - Innovation is in our DNA (2021)

Posted on:
August 17, 2021

What is this research about?

This research builds on PeaceGeeks' previous Settlement 2.0 project focused on innovation and technology adoption. In this phase, researchers sought to validate previous findings and explore new themes by taking a deeper dive into regional and small centre perspectives.

What do you need to know?

Settlement 3.0 is an expansion of Settlement 2.0, with the additional lens of how COVID-19 has impacted innovation, collaboration, and technology adoption in the sector. COVID-19 shifted the landscape of the settlement sector and how how it provided services, forcing innovation where it may not have naturally occurred, and making all service providers embrace technology in order to continue delivering services. This research built on this unique lens to look at Settlement 2.0 innovation and technology findings in this context, as well as the context of smaller and rural centre service providers from across the country.

What did the researchers do?

The research included two phases:

Phase 1 expanded on Settlement 2.0’s original situational analysis, specifically consulting with Service Providing Organizations (SPOs) in the Prairies, the Territories, the Atlantic Region and smaller, rural, and remote communities across British Columbia.  This included conducting a survey of key literature and recommended reports from the Prairies, the North and Atlantic Regions, and conducting 29 interviews with settlement sector stakeholders including frontline service providers and employees at  IRCC.

Phase 2 sought to understand, from both those providing and receiving services, what conditions need to be in place to encourage innovative and collaborative work in the sector. Twelve focus groups with 70 participants were conducted. These focus groups explored opportunities and generating insights on ongoing innovative work that can be built upon in the sector.

What did the researchers find?

The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a number of enabling factors for innovation. In the face of this crisis, the sector and its main funder prioritized flexibility, collaboration and a dynamic rethinking of how to serve newcomers in new ways. At the centre of many of these responses were newcomers themselves, who used ingenuity and resilience to design and implement creative solutions to meet community needs.

There are 2 overarching priority recommendations and a number of specific recommendations and sub-recommendations are organized in a “Now, Next, Then” framework. The 2 overarching recommendations are:

  1. Empower newcomers to be agents of innovative practices and drivers of their own settlement journeys. More work can be done across the sector to put newcomers at the centre of sector  innovation efforts. This goes beyond centring newcomers as clients, to centring newcomers as experts in understanding their needs and strengths, and sources of innovative solutions to meet those needs, regardless of whether they access formal settlement services or not.
  2. IRCC should create a National Small Center Working Group (as part of NSIC) made up of sector and IRCC representatives from all regions. This project has identified the many things  smaller centres across the country have in common with each other, as well as particular strengths and innovative strategies—often born of necessity—that could benefit larger centres and national conversations. There is value in bringing their collective voices, experiences, and innovations together. This brings small centres to the table at the national level, highlighting and prioritizing the small centre lens in NSIC conversations.

Additional recommendations that have sub-recommendations organized in the "Now, Next, Then" framework:

  1. Create clear and commonly accepted working definitions of innovation and outcomes
  2. Encourage and support customization & localization of program delivery models across different regions and varying population demographics
  3. Build and resource more innovation-focused, flexible funding arrangements to allow for hypothesis testing and responsive/adaptive programming
  4. Allocate technology as an operational rather than administrative cost (this recommendation aligns with the Settlement Sector & Technology Task Group’s findings)

How can you use this research?

According to researchers: "These recommendations have policy as well as practical implications, and require leadership from both settlement providers, and IRCC. They will only be realized when the sector and IRCC come together in conversation to create a future vision of settlement services." They have identified where a recommendation should be led by IRCC, the sector, or jointly for maximum impact.

As well, this research intersects and aligns with a number of other emerging (and historic) reports which together should form the basis for a broad policy and practice discussion within the sector.


[pdf-embedder url="" title="Settlement 3.0 project - English (2021)"]


This research builds on PeaceGeeks' previous Settlement 2.0 project focused on innovation and technology adoption. In this phase, researchers sought to validate previous findings and explore new themes by taking a deeper dive into regional and small centre perspectives.

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