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Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University

I have completed a Bachelor's degree in Science, an MA and PhD in Arts Education and an MA in Counselling Psychology. My Arts Education graduate work investigated how the arts offer another pathway to learning, important to us as human beings because it allows us to join the cognitive with the affective for more holistic learning. I wrote a novel as part of my doctoral thesis and begain doing research with teachers in how to emphasize student identification with characters who are different from themselves, leading to increased understanding, empathy, social justice and equity for marginalized groups. In 2015, my Masters students made me aware of the difficulties teachers were having in teaching newly arrived Syrian refugees to Canada. I began my research on how to support educators of refugees, and also draw on the arts as a symbolic language that allows refugee children to release their traumatic memories of war and migration to improve their mental health in a safe, non-triggering manner. I currently hold a 3 year SSHRC Partnership Development grant ($200,000) to conduct research in Greater Vancouver schools to explore how refugee students adapt to learning in schools, how art can be implemented in classrooms by teachers to process their various levels of trauma in an inclusive and supportive environment, and how this might increase refugee participation in academic learning and eventually their resettlement. My SSHRC team will be sharing findings with partners in Jordan and Kazakhstan and decide if curriculum can be adapted for refugees in Canada. During my sabbatical this year, I am writing a novel that I hope will bring together many of the above ideas.

Some of my publications are:

--Barber, S. (2021, August). Achieving holistic care for refugees: the experiences of educators and other stakeholders in Surrey and Greater Vancouver. British Educational Research Journal,47(4), 959-983. doi: 10.1002/berj.3730

--Barber, S. & Ramsay, L. (2020, Sept.). Literally speechless? Refugees to Canada overcome preliteracy and learn to communicate through a literacy of the heart. English 4-11 Retrieved from

--Barber, S. (2019, September). Surrey & Greater Vancouver, B.C.’s integration of refugees: A preliminary report (pp. 1-155). Retrieved from

Delayed due to COVID:

Barber, S. (in press, Fall 2022). Inclusive art pedagogies for refugee children and youth with mental health disabilities during COVID-19: A Canadian perspective. In L. Meda & J. Chitiyo (Eds.). Inclusive Pedagogical Practices Amidst a Global Pandemic: Issues and perspectives around the globe. Cham: Springer Nature.

Barber, S. (in press, November, 2022.). Teachers supporting refugees in Canada during Covid-19: Greater equity and a sense of belonging. In M. Proyer, F. Dovigo, and W. Veck (Eds.). Coronavirus pandemic and the education of children vulnerable to exclusion: Critical lessons for practice and policy in an altered world. London: Bloomsbury Academic.


  • 2014–2022
    Senior Lecturer, Simon Fraser University