Migration & Critical Health Psychology

Welcome to our Community! We are a group of undergraduate and graduate students with diverse backgrounds and experiences all passionate about furthering ourselves in the understanding of migration and community-based health psychology research through a critical, intersectional, and culturally-sensitive lens. Our group is supervised and mentored by Dr. Michaela Hynie at York University, Toronto, Canada.

Please look around at our student profiles to learn more about our research interests, teaching backgrounds as well as community engagements. Drop us a line if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about what we do!

Thank you!

  • Benjamin Stevenson

  • Hank Ko

  • Leila Ohadi

  • Mary Buckman

  • Oreoluwa Esther Olowoyeye

  • Selay Ghaffar

  • Silas Hearthborn

  • Michaela Hynie

  • Kashmala Qasim

  • Jonathan Bridekirk

  • Michael Ruderman

  • Ali Mohamud

Benjamin Stevenson

Ben is in his third year of specialized honours in psychology, returning to school after two decades in music. He is interested in studying clinical psychology from a critical, cross-cultural perspective. He is excited about being involved in the research group as he is passionate about social justice, indigenous rights, and the various sociocultural aspects of mental distress.


Specialized Honours Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, York University, 2021-2024



Hank Ko

Being born and raised in Taiwan with mosaic anthropological backgrounds, Hank always felt that Western psychology fails to address his human totality. Thanks to the sense of incongruity and the replication crisis, Hank temporarily pivoted away from the field and devoted himself to philosophies and politics, which resulted in working with labour unions, grassroots organizations, and government agencies. Because of working directly with the political proponents and marginalized communities, he saw how the psychological zeitgeist fell short in capturing the critical conditions that manifest the generational traumas, developments of minds and behaviours. It also became clear to him how the neoliberal subjective in psychology reduces the rhizomatic nature of human behaviours into arbitrary identities for experimental purposes. These constructs, aggravatedly, often reinforce the pre-existing Eurocentric institutional apparatus on the legacy of colonialism without providing alternatives.

Being in Dr. Hynie’s research group, Hank seeks to develop meaningful research in helping migrant communities, particularly via community outreach and the phenomenological approach, to mobilize future policy changes from the perspective of those continually facing systematic injustice.


Master of Arts, Historical, Theoretical, & Critical Studies in Psychology, York University, Toronto (2022 – Present)

Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology Specialist, University of Toronto St. George, Toronto (2011-2015)


Giannone, Z. A., Gagnon, M. M., & Ko, H. C. (2018). Mentorship as A Career Intervention: An Evaluation of a Peer-Mentoring Program with Canadian University Psychology Students. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 17(2), 3-24.



Leila Ohadi

Leila is a third year specialized honours student at York University with counselling and mental health concentration (in progress). Her research interests are racial biases embedded in individuals migrating to Canada from different cultures toward other cultures. She is currently working on a study on gender base violence against women of Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and Iraq who are newly arrived to the GTA.


Specialized Honours Bachelor or Arts, Psychology, York University, 2020 – 2024



Mary Buckman

Mary is a Specialized Honours Psychology student. Her areas of interest include patterns of social bias and how they interact with aspects of the Canadian legal system. She is currently working with Dr. Hynie on a thesis that centers upon racial bias and credibility assessment of refugees.



Specialized Honours Bachelor of Arts Psychology, York University 2019 – 2024




Oreoluwa Esther Olowoyeye

Oreoluwa (she/her) is currently in her 4th year as an undergraduate BA Honours Psychology major, hoping to complete a concentration in Counselling and Mental Health. Her research interests include access to mental healthcare for African immigrant youth, cultural norms, and collective memory.




Selay Ghaffar

Selay Ghaffar is a graduate student in International Development Studies at York University and a recipient of the SSHRC scholarship. Her research centers on the agency and resettlement experiences of Afghan Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) who entered Canada through the IRCC special program in response to Afghanistan’s situation after the Afghanistan government’s collapse in 2021. She will explore these refugee women’s early resettlement and integration experiences through thelens of women’s agency. She is interested in seeking future research opportunities on different experiences of women refugees, women’s role in social movements and feminism and social changes.


Selay Ghaffar has over a decade of experience working for women’s rights in Afghanistan. She has held influential leadership positions within national and international human rights organizations, instrumental in driving initiatives to empower women through education, economic independence, and political leadership across Afghanistan. Selay’s commitment to gender equality and activism has earned her numerous accolades, including prestigious human rights awards and recognition among the world’s 100 most influential women by La Repubblica, a famous Italian newspaper. Her struggle for women’s emancipation and freedom in Afghanistan has been featured in impactful documentaries, such as “I am the Revolution” by Benedetta Argentieri, “Afghans: Victims of Peace” by ARTE France, and “Life of Women in Afghanistan” by DW-ZDF-Info Channel. Selay has represented Afghan women at various national and international events, such as the Bonn II conference on Afghanistan, being the only female elected spokesperson. While actively engaging in multiple women’s and progressive alliances and networks worldwide. Notably, she holds a council membership in Progressive International, an esteemed association of intellectuals and Women Weaving the Future Network, a regional network of progressive feminists.




Silas Hearthborn

Silas (he/him) is approaching his final year in his specialized honours in Psychology. Previously, Silas has worked in a myriad of industries – including sales, illustration, and insurance – before returning to school to complete his bachelors. His main focus in research is bringing queer and transgender experiences to the forefront, exploring our existence through an intersectional lens.


Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (hons), York University (2020-current)



Michaela Hynie

Dr. Hynie’s research addresses the development and evaluation of interventions that can strengthen social integration and inclusion in communities that have experienced social conflict or forced migration, whether through conflict or environmental change. She is particularly interested in the manner in which social networks and interpersonal relationships influence well-being in different cultural contexts, and how psychological aspects of social inclusion are shaped by the public and health sectors. Her approach promotes the collaboration of universities, community members and nongovernmental and governmental agencies to build on the strengths of each sector and ensure sustainability.


Faculty of Health – Department of Psychology


Ph.D. – 1996
McGill University
Montreal, Canada


Hynie, M. (2018a). Canada’s Syrian refugee program, intergroup relationships and identities. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 50(2), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1353/ces.2018.0012

Hynie, M. (2018b). Refugee integration: Research and policy. Peace and Conflict, 24(3), 265–276. https://doi.org/10.1037/pac0000326



Kashmala Qasim

Kashmala completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology from the University of Toronto and completed a Masters in Neuroscience from McMaster University, with a focus on mental health and obesity. She has also completed the Taleem ul Qu’ran Diploma course from Al Huda Institute. Kashmala has been a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the Islamic Online University, and has also received Level 1 Pastoral Counselling training from the University of Toronto. She is now pursuing a PhD at York University in History, Theory and Critical Psychology, and is a Community Educator with the Khalil Center. Kashmala’s dissertation involves conducting qualitative research studies looking Muslim mental health.


Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology  September 2016-Present

Social Psychology (PhD Year 4)

York University, Ontario

Supervisor: Dr. Michaela Hynie

Proposed Thesis: A Critical Post-Modern Feminist Approach to Exploring Empowerment and Well-Being in Muslim Women at Al Huda Institute: A Qualitative Study

Certificate of Critical Qualitative Health Research July 2019 – May 2020 

University of Toronto                                                                                                             

Graduate Courses Completed

  1. a) Theoretical Foundations of Qualitative Health Research
  2. b) Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation
  3. c) Qualitative Research Design and Data Collection

Certificate of Pastoral Counseling (Level 1) September 2014 – April 2015

Muslim Studies Chaplaincy Program – Emmanuel College

University of Toronto

Supervisor: Cindy Elkerton – Registered Psychotherapist

Master of Science in Health Neuroscience September 2011 – September 2013

Neuroscience Graduate Program (MINDS)

McMaster University/St Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, Ontario

Cumulative GPA: 4.0

Thesis: Which psychosocial factors predict weight loss outcomes after bariatric surgery in morbidly obese


Al Huda Institute Canada November 2013

Taleem-ul-Qu’ran Diploma Course

Mississauga, Ontario

Specialization: Word for word translation of the Qu’ran; Tafseer (exegesis) and Tajweed (recitation)

Bachelor of Science in Psychology Specialist (Co-op Program) September 2010

University of Toronto, Scarborough              

Graduated with Distinction

Achieved 4th Years Honors List: GPA: 4.0                                     


Sample Podcast:


Sample Workshop: 


Sample Interview:


Sample of Teaching Webinar: Introduction to Qualitative Research (Virtual)


Sample of Teaching: Live classes (Undergraduate Class – Brain & Behaviour, York University): 



Sample of Teaching: Online (Zoom) (Undergraduate Class – Brain & Behaviour, York University)




Qasim, K., & Hynie, M. (2019). Looking to God, within or both? Coping in Muslim Syrian refugees. Psynopsis (Ed. Winter).

Qasim, K., Hynie, M. (2019). Exploring an Islamically integrated peer support model for Muslim Syrian refugees. In Zangeneh, M. & Al-Krenawi, A. (Eds.) Advances in mental health and addiction (pp. 133-148). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-26437-6_8

Hynie, M., Qasim, K., & Das, M. (2017). Access to health care in Canada. In A. Korntheueur & P. Pritchard (Eds.). Structural context of refugee integration in Canada and Germany. GESIS Series, 15 (pp. 81-86). Cologne, Germany: GESIS—Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences.

Qasim, K., Taylor, V., & McCabe, R.  (2012). Psychosocial correlates of obesity in adolescents: From prevention to intervention. Health Science Inquiry, 3, 92-93.



Jonathan Bridekirk

Jonathan is currently studying university ideologies, particularly the prevalence of neoliberal values at the undergraduate education level. Jonathan is also interested in studying scale development / psychometric analyses, forensic psychology, and refugee resettlement and integration.


Diploma, Quantitative Methods in Psychology, York University, Toronto (2018 –2021)

Doctor of Philosophy, Social and Personality Psychology, York University, Toronto (2017 – Present)

Master of Arts, Experimental Psychology, Laurentian University, Sudbury (2012 – 2015)

Certificate, Law and Justice, Laurentian University, Sudbury (2011 – 2012)

Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Psychology, Laurentian University, Sudbury (2007 – 2011)


Bridekirk, J., Ham, E., Ball, L.C., & Konkolÿ Thege, B. (2021). Beyond Window Dressing: Does Moving to a New Building Really Shape the Perception of, and Actual Safety on Forensic Inpatient Programs? International Journal of Forensic Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/14999013.2021.1973153

Oda, A., Beukeboom, C., Bridekirk, J., Bayoumi, A., Hynie, M., & SyRIA.lth team (2021). Examining trends of cigarette smoking amongst Syrian refugees during their first two years in Canada. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 23(3), 640–645. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-021-01153-3

Bridekirk, J., & Hynie, M. (2021). The impact of education and employment quality on self‑rated mental health among Syrian refugees in Canada. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 23(2), 290–297. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-020-01108-0

Hynie, M., McGrath, S., Bridekirk, J., Oda, A., Ives, N., Hyndman, J., Arya, N., Shakya, Y., Hanley, J. & McKenzie, K. (2019). What role does type of sponsorship play in early integration outcomes? Syrian refugees resettled in six Canadian cities. Refuge, 35(2), 36–52. https://doi.org/10.7202/1064818ar

Bridekirk, J., & Hynie, M. (2018). Education, employment and mental health outcomes for Syrian refugee newcomers. Psynopsis, Canada’s Psychology Magazine, 40(4), 16.

Bridekirk, J., Oddson, B., & Turcotte, J. (2016). Harmonious passions support cognitive resourcesMotivation and Emotion, 40(4), 646-654. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-016-9561-y



Michael Ruderman

Mike is a SSHRC funded doctoral student in Historical, Theoretical, and Critical Psychology at York University. He is interested broadly in the realities and potentialities of inter/transdisciplinarity in
psychological research, with a special focus on the integration of art and science. His Master’s thesis, which used collaborative art workshops to explore the negotiation of the neoliberal self among activist performing artists in Ontario, received the Ivana Guglietti-Kelly Award for excellence in qualitative research from York University. Going forward, Mike is looking to use arts-based methods to explore how Fourth Age adults experience long-term residential care in Ontario. Also, Mike is currently the host of The MaCH-Up Podcast, which explores the work and personal stories of researchers in migration and critical health studies. Check it out here: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/michael-ruderman


Doctor of Philosophy, Historical, Theoretical, & Critical Studies in Psychology, York University, Toronto (2021 – Present)

Master of Arts, Historical, Theoretical, & Critical Studies in Psychology York University, Toronto (2019 – 2021)

Advanced Diploma, Theatre Arts, George Brown College, Toronto (2013 – 2016)

Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Psychology & English, McGill University, Montreal (2009 – 2013)


Ruderman, M. D., Hynie, M. (2023). Existence and resistance: Activist performing artists’ negotiation of the business self. Qualitative Psychology. Advance online publication.

Ruderman, M. (2022). Training for what?: An autoethnographic study of professional theatre training. In E. Tilley (Ed.), Creative Activism: Research, Pedagogy and Practice (pp. 243-262). Cambridge Scholars Publishing.



Ali Mohamud

Ali (they/them) is a mature student in their 4th year of study in the Specialized Honours Psychology Program. As a former newcomer to Canada who also inhabits the intersection of Blackness, Muslimness, and Queerness, Ali’s work with Dr. Hynie is informed by their research interest in the impact of the social determinants of mental health on the wellbeing of racialized newcomers.


Specialized Honours Psychology Program at York University