Centre for Social Research

Gladys and Harvey Kipp Research Lab

Mission Statement

The Centre for Social Research (CSR) undertakes research that contributes to an understanding of regional and international issues. The Centre emphasizes community relevance, interdisciplinary work, and evidence based policy initiatives that create positive social change. The Centre is responsible for the development, maintenance, and strengthening of linkages that inform and contribute to a greater understanding of communities and society.

The Centre is founded on the principles of social justice; facilitating informed citizenship regionally and internationally; and working in collaboration with the community. The Centre provides a forum for interdisciplinary research, a stimulating environment for training/mentoring students, and collegial discussions.

Recent Research:

A Response to Illicit Drug Overdoses: Naloxone Administration in Surrey and Vancouver, British Columbia

New sprinkler requirements for four-storey wood-frame buildings


Centre for Social Research, Associates:


Katherine Watson, PhD

Dr. Watson teaches Sociology in the department of Social, Cultural and Media Studies at UFV. Katherine's areas of interest include Sociology of Education, Research Methodology and Classical and Contemporary Sociological Research.

Current projects include a study on the British Columbia educational reform initiatives since 2002. Of particular interest are the ways in which assessment embodies moral regulation and governance of students. Katherine recently completed a project for the Chilliwack Social Planning and Research Council on the 2014 Quality of Life Survey. 

Satwinder Bains, PhD

Dr. Bains' research interests include migration and integration; cross-cultural education curriculum implementation; race and ethnicity; women's rights and cultural politics; Diaspora studies; Sikhism and the politics of identity and cultural historiographies.

Satwinder has multiple years of professional work experience in community development and has worked extensively with not for profit organizations in the area of cross-cultural mental-health, immigrant women, youth and families and board development on diversity and equity, diversity, cross cultural development, women's rights and socio-religious interfaith dialogue. She is a consummate community advocate and volunteer and has assisted numerous community organizations develop and grow. She continues to serve on numerous committees and organizations locally, nationally and internationally.

Satwinder is a longtime advocate of cross-cultural education. She has been a diversity educator, community developer and community activist in the areas of women's rights, youth empowerment and immigrant settlement integration. Satwinder is an avid participant in community affairs both at the civic and provincial level.

Recent Publications:

Bains, S. 2014. Indo Canadians: No need to be hyphenated. TheIndianDiapsora.com

Bains, S. (2104). A national Historic Site of Canada - The Gur Sikh Temple, Abbotsford. In 1914-2014 Komagatamaru Centennial Souvenir. Vancouver BC: Komagata Maru Foundation.

Bains, S. Evaluation Abbotsford Building Connections Project. Abbotsford BC. Dec 2013.

Jarvis, P., Koehn, S., Bains, S., Cheema, J., Gourdiraan, D., & Addison, M. (2011). "Just scratching the surface". Mental health promotion for Punjabi seniors (forums) -- final report. Vancouver, BC: Centre for Healthy Aging at Providence Health Care (CHAP). Available at: http://www.centreforhealthyaging.ca/documents/Just_scratching_the_surface-FINAL_000.pdf [10/12, 2011].

Profile picture of John Belec

John Belec, PhD, Queen's University                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ‌

Dr. Belec's research specialties are focused in the study of urban residential design and housing markets, cross-border regions,and the social geography of Abbotsford's Townline neighborhood.  

His longest standing research interest has been in the realm of twentieth century housing market development, especially with regard to the role of lending infrastructure.  This was initiated in his PhD dissertation (1988), a study of the origins, and urban impact, of Canada's initial piece of federal housing legislation, the Dominion Housing Act of 1935.  In Canada and the United States, the modern mortgage market is generally regarded as having played a key role in the growth and design of the post-war suburbs.  John's study of Canadian housing policy is set within the broader context of regulation theory.  As such, the establishment of the modern residential mortgage is understood to have been central to the intensive regime of capitalist accumulation of the latter twentieth century, that developed in Canada, and other advanced capitalist nations.  It is generally argued in the literature that the development of the modern mortgage, was critical to the expansion of home ownership, especially in suburban settings.

The study of the Canada-United States border was initiated in 1999, in collaboration with Dr. Belec, fellow UCFV colleague, the late Doug Nicol, and Patrick Buckley in the Geography Department at Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA.  This collaboration included 1) an international team-taught course (GEOG 421: Borderlands) for graduates and senior undergrads, and 2) research on the border.

The Abbotsford CMA is notable in Canada for containing the highest proportion of South Asian population and amongst the highest visible minority population, in the nation.  These measures reflect the prominence of Abbotsford's Indo-Canadian population, which has recently marked in centenary.  This demographic cohort is currently concentrated in the Townline neighbourhood of Abbotsford. The degree of concentration is very high; according to recent urban geography analysis, it's one of a handful of "polarized" neighbourhoods in Canada. (Walks 2010) Townline appears on the surface to be a success story; a vibrant, active, growing and adaptive community of multiple generations.  It is also a neighbourhood with a relatively large number of newcomers.  Townline is emblematic of what John Ibbitson has recently described to represent the "new Canada", as it embodies key trends revealed in the 2011 Census of Canada: "This census makes concrete what we already suspected: that immigrants are growing the new Canada, while the old Canada watches and worries in decline." (Ibbitson, The Globe and Mail, 19 September 2012).  The focus of this study is on the structure and operation of the housing market that exists in Townline.  Availability and affordability of housing are regularly cited to be key to successful newcomer integration in Canadian cities. (Hiebert and Mendez(2008); Hiebert, Mendez and Wyly (2008), Teixeira (2012)). In their review of related literature sponsored by Metropolis British Columbia, Teixeira and Pottie-Sherman (2012,15) identify housing analysis to be important for future research: "What makes one newcomer's integration more successful than another? Does housing matter? These are questions of critical significance for the future of British Columbia's major cities and, indeed, for the country itself."

Recent publications:

J. Belec. 2015. Underwriting Suburbanization: The National Housing Act and the Canadian City. The Canadian Geographer. 59 (3): 341-353.

P. Buckley, J. Belec and J. Levy. 2015. Resource Management in Borderlands: Evolution from Competing Interests to Common Aversions. International Journal of Environmental Rsearch and Public Helath, 12 (7): 7541-7557.

J. Belec and Patrick Buckley. 2014. Democracy and the Space of Energy Flows: The Practice of Bordered Transnationalism in the Pacific Northwest. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 29 (3): 291-302.

P. Buckley and J. Belec. 2011. Cascadia Reconsidered: Questioning Micro-Scale Cross-Border Integration in the Fraser Lowland. University of the Fraser Valley Research Review, 3 (3).

Profile Picture of Marcella LaFever

Marcella LaFever, PhD, University of New Mexico                                                                                                                                                                                           

Dr. LaFever is an Assistant Professor in Communications at the University of the Fraser Valley.  Marcella's main program of research focuses on the social exclusion that results in public dialogue and decision-making where cultural ways of speaking are outside the norms expected in dominate Canadian culture.  Her 9P Planning model posits a process that builds intercultural relationships to increase social inclusion in public dialogue.  Dr. LaFever's current work investigates use of First Nation storytelling as a form of dialogic participation and as a way to indigenize pedagogical practice. Marcella's doctoral dissertation work focused on intercultural communication in the British Columbia treaty process.  Her interests in this topic stemmed from her consultation work in community development within Ktunaxa traditional territory and her home comunity of Golden, BC. Her most recent publications include:

LaFever, M. & Samra, H. (2014). Student Responses To Persuasion: Motivations For Engaging In Research Outside The Sciences At A Teaching-Intensive University. Proceedings 2014 San Antonio International Academic Conference.

LaFever, M. (May 2012). Book review: Emotions in Multiple Languages Journal of Language and Social Psychology 31(2): 231 http://jls.sagepub.com/content/31/231 

LaFever, M. (2011). Empowering Native Americans: Communication, planning and dialogue for eco-tourism in Gallup, New Mexico. Journal of International & Intercultural Communication 4(2). 127-145.

LaFever, M. (2011). Communication and Culture Clash in America's "Indian Country". Communication currents: Knowledge for communicating well 6(3). Available online at https://www.natcom.org/CommCurrentsArticle.aspx?id=1029 

Dr. Gabriela Pechlaner, PhD

Dr. Pechlaner's research interests are in the sociology of agriculture and food, with a particular emphasis on the legal and regulatory aspects of related new technologies. Her doctoral dissertation (SFU, 2007) investigated the extent to which there has been a social reorganization of agricultural production as a result of the evolving patent laws and contractual restrictions that accompany new agricultural biotechnologies. It concluded that classical political economy concepts outlining piecemeal means of capital accumulation in agriculture needed to be supplemented by an additional concept - termed 'expropriationism' - which identifies several aspects of an agricultural reorganization premised on legal means of enhancing capital accumulation and on separating corporate ownership from liability. The results of this research were published in a monograph - Corporate Crops: Biotechnology, Agriculture and the Struggle for Control (University of Texas Press, 2012).

This research path was continued in a SSHRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship hosted at the Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (Lancaster University, UK). Given the importance of a supportive legal and regulatory environment for the successful commercialization of agricultural biotechnologies in the United States, the increasing use of law by the technologies' opponents raises interesting questions regarding the extent to which such opposition can actually affect the pro-agricultural biotechnology regulatory dynamics in the United States. This (ongoing) research project includes a number of case studies, such as that of a successful 2009 ballot initiative to ban GMOs form Mendocino County, California.

Most recently, Dr. Pechlaner completed a three year SSHRC standard research grant, co-investigated with Dr. Gerardo Otero (SFU), which undertook a comparative investigation of changes in capital accumulation in agriculture and food since the mid-1980's - the "neoliberal food regime." One of the chief dynamic factors of this regime is neoregulation, national and suprastate regulatory changes which include trade liberalization, strengthened intellectual property rights, and the promotion of the private sector. While there is a clear association between neoregulation and nutritionally degraded diets as a result of the globalization of cheap, industrial foods, the extent and spread of this trend is still ill-defined. Drs. Otero and Pechlaner developed a 'neoliberal diet risk' index as a geographically and temporally comparative tool to this end.

Recent Publications:

Otero, G., Pechlaner, G., Lieberman, G., and Can Gurcan, E. 2015. "The Neoliberal Diet and Inequality in the United States." Social Science and Medicine. Vol. 142: 47-55.

Pechlaner, G. and Otero, G. 2015. "The political economy of agriculture and food in North America: Toward convergence or divergence?" Ch. 7, Handbook of the International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food. Alessandro Bonnano and Larry Busch (editors). Cheltenham, UK and Northampon, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Ltd.

picture of Michelle Riedlinger

Michelle Riedlinger, PhD, University of Queensland

Michelle joined UFV's Communication Department in August 2011.  Michelle's doctoral work at the University of Queensland investigated the communication barriers between academics from different disciplines as they engaged in collaborative research within the federally-funded Cooperative Research Centres in Australia.  During this time, Michelle also worked as a researcher, writer and workshop facilitator with Econnect Communication, a science and environmental communication consultancy.  Michelle continues to be interested in how science and environmental research is communicated, particularly the contribution of researchers to public and policy debate on controversial issues.  She is also interested in the boundary communication practices of interdisciplinary researchers and community groups.  Michelle's ongoing projects include: Discourse of expertise and accountability: Social representations of the risks to salmon health in the 2010-2011 Cohen Commission Inquiry; Producing loveable monsters: Assessing challenges and opportunities in interdisciplinary scholarship; Climate change education and social diffusion: Rethinking engagement with the alarmed and concerned; Use of self reference in BC First Nations' scholarship; and Social worker attitudes to language and client recordings.  Her most recent publications include:

Rea, J. & Riedlinger, M. (2015). Exigencies, ecologies and street science: Emergent counter public genres in the context of Fukushima radiation risk discourses on the Internet. In Reiff, M.J. and Bawarshi, A. (Eds.), Genre and the Performance of Publics. Utah: Utah State University Press

Riedlinger, M., & Rea, J. (2015). Discourse and knowledge niches: Negotiating the risks of radiation in online Canadian forums, post-Fukushima. Science, Technology & Human Values, 40(2), 1-27. doi:10.1177/0162243915571166.


 Scott Sheffield, PhD, Wilfrid Laurier Tri-University

Scott is an Associate Professor in the History Department at UFV.  His specialties are in History are Canadian, Settler-Indigenous relations, military, race and New Zealand.  Scott currently has two research projects underway. The first is the culmination of almost two decades of research and publication on the subject of Indigenous people and the Second World War. He is currently working on two monographs arising from this project in collaboration with Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer. The first is a major comparative study of Indigenous people's participation in, and experience of, the Second World War in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. 

The second research program he is interested has just begun to gain momentum over the last two years, and is focussed on the experience of the Second World War in British Columbia. This program offers many opportunities for student involvement, either working in the materials he collects on their own research projects, or working as research assistants with Scott. His most recent publications include:


"The Red Man's On the Warpath": The Image of the 'Indian' and the Second World War. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2004.

Aboriginal Peoples in the Canadian Military. Ottawa: Department of National Defence, 2010. (P. Whitney Lackenbauer and R. Scott Sheffield, with John Moses and Maxime Gohier) 176 pp.

Canada's Veterans' Charter and Métis Veterans of the Second World War and Korea. Winnipeg: Métis National Council, 2012, 61 pages.

Len Garis, Adjunt Professor at UFV, Fire Chief, City of Surrey, British Columbia

Len Garis is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice & Associate to the Centre for Social Research at the University of the Fraser Valley, a member of the Affiliated Research Faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, and a faculty member of the Institute of Canadian Urban Research Studies at Simon Fraser University. He has also been a member of the FIREfighting in Canada editorial advisory board since 2005. As Fire Chief for the City of Surrey, British Columbia, his focus in on addressing public safety challenges through evidence-based making and innovation.

Len Garis joing the Surrey Fire Service in 1998 and has worked in the fire service and related fields since 1980. He believes strongly that long-range vision, planning and innovation can reduce costs, improve efficiency and ultimately enhance services and public safety.

Several of these intiatives have garnered awards and recognition for the City of Surrey in the past decade, including the Union of B.C. Municipalities Community Excellence Awards (for four different programs), a Lietenant Governor of British Columbia Award for Public Safety, recognition from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and in 2003 a Community Health and Safety Award from the International City / County Management Association (ICMA) and in 2016 a Professional Development Award from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) and an Award for Collaborative Excellence from the Canadian Collaborating Centre Injury Prevention (CCCIP). In 2013 Chief Garis was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canadians.



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