HOF094: Howard Adelman

Howard Adelman is a scholar and university professor who started teaching at York University in Toronto in 1966. He founded the Refugee Studies Project that evolved into York’s Centre for Refugee Studies of which he was the director for 5 years.

Mr. Adelman has been involved in refugee issues for many years.  In the 1970s, concerned about the South-east Asia refugee crisis, he decided to provide assistance to that population. In June 1979, he invited a number of Toronto residents who represented a wide diversity of community organizations to a meeting at his residence in order to discuss the issue with them. Employment and Immigration (CEIC) Minister Ronald Atkey learned of the meeting and sent two CEIC settlement officers to attend.

As a result of that meeting, the attendees decided to organize a strategy to sponsor the South-East Asia refugees. Soon after the meeting, an article appeared in the Globe & Mail newspaper describing the initiative as Operation Lifeline. Within a few weeks, more than 60 chapters of Operation Lifeline were created across the country. The initiative was very successful in its goal to provide support to the refugees who had chosen to settle in Canada.

Howard Adelman retired in 2003 and remains active, continuing to write about issues dealing with refugees. He was also editor of the academic journal, Refuge, for ten years. In December 2016, Adelman was named a Member of the Order of Canada for his activist work on behalf of and his scholarship on refugees.