U of T Community Unites to Offer Assistance
"The moral urgency of the present crisis – as in the past with the Typhoon in the Philippines or the earthquake in Haiti – has led student groups, departments, Colleges, faculties, and divisions to push for more engagement and coordination."
President Meric Gertler
Student led humanitarian initiative created by a group of students and faculty at the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. This initiative serves as a resource for the influx of new Syrian-Canadians, raises awareness about the ongoing issues in Syria and the Middle East, and raises funds in order to help Syrian refugees and students at risk.
U of T St. George campus chapter of World Vision focuses on the dynamic student population at the university and hopes to begin change by educating and fundraising.
U of T Scarborough Professor Gerald Cupcik
U of T Scarborough Psychology Professor Gerald Cupcik is the scientific advisor for Fuga Perpetua, an artwork by Israeli composer Yuval Avital that was performed this summer at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts and at the Brighton Festival in England. The commission combines a live orchestra with dual-screen projection to tell the stories of refugees and their lives. At Lakeside Arts, Syrian refugees joined the performance, speaking through megaphones from the audience. Fuga Perpetua moves audience members from an objective observation to the emotional and subjective experience of individuals and the issues that plague those who are forced to forever leave behind their homes.
Syrian-Canadian U of T Mississauga campus student was inspired to go abroad to help Syrian refugee families in-person. She has been accepted to volunteer with the Starfish Foundation, helping Syrian refugees in Lesvos, Greece from May to August 2016.
She is still working towards her fundraising goal – her fundraiser page is here > https://www.youcaring.com/starfish-foundation-544505
World University Service of Canada, U of T chapters
- University of Toronto has been active in supporting UN refugee resettlement, hosting a new undergraduate student each year since 2007 through partnerships between campus student unions and the World University Service of Canada program. Local support includes, in each student’s first year, the provision of on-campus room and board, tuition and fees, living expenses, and most importantly, transition support through advising, counselling, social opportunities, and immigration support, with many of these supports extending into upper years as well.
- The U of T Mississauga campus Students' Union (UTMSU) supports one refugee student per year. The initiative, which is funded through a variety of partners, covers tuition and fees, room and board, expenses and supplies for a refugee student at UTM. This year, student group advocated to support an additional refugee student, specifically requesting to support a student from Syria.
- Every year at U of T Scarborough, the Scarborough Campus Students' Union together with Student Life and the International Student Centre at U of T Scarborough support one refugee student. This year, with financial support from the Executive Team, U of T Scarborough is sponsoring a second refugee student who comes to Canada from Syria.
Hart House community organized the following volunteer committees:
- Sponsorship Groups: Volunteers work with Syrian family sponsorship groups for a period of one year.
- Community Engagement – Volunteers work with immigration and refugee agencies in the broader GTA.
- Education Committee – Volunteers assist with researching opportunities and resources for continuing education with a specific focus on educational resources for children. They also participate in tutoring and event organizing.
- Language and Culture Committee – Volunteers who speak Arabic or Kurdish assist with translation and cultural exchange.
The Graduate Astronomy Students organized several planetarium shows that raised $10,769, which were donated to Red Cross Canada. They will be putting on free shows in Arabic in July 2016 for Syrian refugees that have settled in Toronto.
The Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education has opened up ten spaces in its Camp U of T for the children of Syrian refugees.