York U collaborates with Ryerson, UofT and OCAD to coordinate efforts to bring Syrian refugee families to Canada

Vari Hall at night
Vari Hall at night

York University is collaborating with Ryerson University, the University of Toronto and OCAD University, in partnership with the Lifeline Syria Challenge initiative, to facilitate private sponsorships, raise funds and engage volunteers in a coordinated effort to bring Syrian refugee families to Canada.

Representatives from the four universities and Lifeline Syria Challenge are working together to develop a focused, organized response to the refugee crisis. As part of this response, York University is turning to its community and will establish campus sponsorship teams, who will work together to raise a minimum of $27,000 each, and commit to supporting a Syrian refugee family for their first year resettling in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

“We want to fully engage with and encourage the support of the entire York community – students, staff, faculty, alumni and donors – in this very important initiative,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “While this global crisis requires a global response, we strongly believe that, together with our university partners in the GTA, there is much we can do as a local community to coordinate and augment our efforts.”

“There are still a number of logistical details to work out. We see this program as a unique opportunity for our students to be directly involved in social innovation and experiential learning – while building on York’s existing commitments to supporting strong communities through the University’s activities,” said Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Lorne Sossin, special adviser to the president on community engagement. Sossin is helping coordinate the initiative at York University.

Concurrently, in recognition of the scale and pervasiveness of the global refugee issue, York University is developing a multi-faceted financial support program available to refugee students who attend the University. “York’s financial support to refugee students is one way of addressing the many barriers refugees face in accessing postsecondary education,” said Professor Christina Clark-Kazak, director of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies.

Over the coming weeks, more information will be provided to University community members about how they can get involved with this important cause. In the meantime, visit the Lifeline Syria Challenge website. (The website is being revised to reflect the University partnership.)