COVID-19 and Punjabi Migration project graphic

Project Team: Tania Das Gupta (Principal Investigator, York University), Sugandha Nagpal (Co-investigator, O.P. Jindal Global University), Puneet Kaur Dhillon (Co-investigator, Punjabi Community Health Services), Rajat Nayyar (Research Assistant, York University)

In partnership with Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS), this project’s goals are to understand the shifting needs, obstacles, concerns and coping strategies around settlement among young newcomer Punjabis (ages 18–35) in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in the context of COVID-19. 

The project’s objectives are to:

1) Assess the specific needs and obstacles that GTA-based Punjabi newcomers are encountering in the COVID-19 period and formulate support strategies.

2) Understand how young Punjabi newcomers may be adapting their migration plans, imaginaries and strategies to COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 in India and Canada.

3) Contribute to research and policy recommendations around settlement of newcomers during pandemic conditions and bring valuable insights to further improve immigrant settlement services in the GTA for Punjabi migrants and immigrants.

This project is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Engagement Grant. This research has been approved by York University Research Ethics Board.

Project Updates

Update 1: We are currently recruiting research participants, both settlement workers and community members, for short interviews. To learn more or to participate in this study, please contact Rajat Nayyar at

  1. Settlement Workers | You are invited to participate in a short interview if you are a settlement worker, community health provider, employment, legal or education counsellor, volunteer, activist or community leader serving Punjabi newcomers in the GTA. *Click HERE for details.
  2. Community Members | You are invited to participate in an interview with us if you are between the ages of 18-35 and have immigrated from Punjab to the Greater Toronto Area any time since 2016. *Click HERE for details.

Update 2: Initial research findings with settlement workers (April 2022)
*Click HERE to download.

Update 3: Key Findings from Phase 1 | Research on Newcomers in the Punjabi Community and COVID-19 (February 2023)

In Phase 1 of the Project, in-depth interviews were held on Zoom with 18 South Asian community workers serving Punjabi and South Asian newcomers in Spring and early Summer of 2021.

*Click on the image to download.

Presentations, Video and Publications

“Mobile Dreams: Punjabi international Students in Toronto.” Video featuring project interviews, edited by Pradeepto Roy. Now available via YouTube. The event video is available at this link.

Tania Das Gupta was interviewed on the Mike Farrell show on CityNews 570 on the topic of international students and housing issues, 23 April 2023, 11:00 EDT

Tania Das Gupta and Yvonne Su. 2023. “International students face exploitation in Canada and abroad,” The Conversation, 29 March 2023.

Das Gupta, Tania and Sugandha Nagpal. 2022. “Unravelling Discourses on COVID-19, South Asians and Punjabi Canadians.” Studies in Social Justice 16, no. 1: 103–22. 

Das Gupta, Tania with Sugandha Nagpal. Indian Im/migrants: Degraded Labour, Precarious Work, yet Model Minority? Presented at the 26th Biennial Canadian Ethnic Studies Association Conference, 4 November 2022,  Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Das Gupta, Tania with Sugandha Nagpal. The “Telling” of Punjabi Migration and Mobility during the Pandemic. Presented virtually at the 19th Annual IMISCOE Conference (Migration and Time), Oslo, Norway, 29 June 2022.

Das Gupta, Tania with Sugandha Nagpal. The Resilience of Punjabi Migration and Mobility during the Pandemic. Presented virtually at the Canadian South Asian Studies Association (CSASA), 12 May 2022.

The project’s team members presented preliminary research findings on the Punjabi community and COVID-19 to the Service Delivery Network (SDN) in Peel region, Ontario on 26 October 2021.


Das Gupta, Tania and Sugandha Nagpal, forthcoming. ”We know we have to work like a ‘donkey’ in Canada”: Employment Expectations and  Experiences of Young Punjabis in Canada. In India Migration Report 2024: Indians in Canada, edited by Irudaya Rajan. Routledge.

Das Gupta, Tania. Forthcoming, 2023. “When the state is complicit in violence against women: Exploring experiences of Punjabi women international students in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).” Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal.

“Mobile Dreams: Punjabi international students in Toronto.” Video featuring project interviews  forthcoming in 2023.


  1. Screening of the project video—Mobile Dreams: Punjabi International Students in the Greater Toronto Area—with Director Tania Das Gupta at York University | Monday, 13 September 2023 | Noon to 14:00 EDT | Hybrid
  2. Roundtable on Migration, Mobility, and Covid-19: Migration Governance and Migrant Agency | 26 November 2022 | 11:00–13:30 EST | Marigold India Habitat Centre
  3. Statelessness & COVID-19: Case Studies Around the World panel discussion | 15 June 2021 at 09:00 EDT | University of Ottawa Public Law Centre and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre
  4. How are South Asian migrant women in Canada overcoming employment challenges? | Thursday, 3 June 2021 at Noon | The Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration
  5. Dr. Tania Das Gupta offered a seminar on abuse and violence in relationships on 10 May 2021, as part of ‘Why Are Good Men Silent?‘, a PCHS initiative to positively engage South Asian men towards healthy relationships in the family & community.