Welcoming the 2,000th refugee to Canada through the Student Refugee Program
Every August, for the last four decades, WUSC community members have gathered at airports across the country. Together, with banners and smiles, they welcome newly arriving SRP students.
This year, 123 students arrived to start their new lives in Canada, where they will be empowered to continue their post-secondary studies in safe and supportive environments. Among this cohort was the 2,000th student to be sponsored by WUSC. To celebrate this milestone, we asked Local Committee alumni and former SRP students for their reflections on reaching this number and what the impact of the program has been for them.
WILLIAM OCHING, SRP alum, Laurentian University
Being in a refugee camp, I remembered the chances of having a bright future were dimming because there was no chance for accessing post-secondary education even though I was doing fantastic in school. The SRP was an opportunity for me to come to Canada to study, finish my degree, and work. Now I give back to the country that gave me a second chance. 2,000 is a very big number, even though it might seem small compared to how many refugees come to Canada, but the impact is greater to society as a whole.
MARY PURKEY, former faculty advisor for the Bishop’s University Local Committee
You can’t anticipate the impact a program like this has: the experience of sponsorship was transformative for myself and my children, who have gone on to pursue careers related to the protection of vulnerable people. Getting to 2,000 students takes one person at a time. 2,000 is a lot of students but I’d like it to be higher and make a call to action for Canada to do better – we have the universities and the capacity to do it.
AHMAD ALKOSANI, SRP alum, Sault College
The SRP totally changed my life. It was also helpful to have my brother here [who also came through the SRP]. WUSC is a huge youth organization; while 2,000 seems like a small number, it is big to us because it is youth supporting youth. These 2,000 students have a new chance, a new life. It is like the slogan, “education changes the world” – WUSC has changed the lives of these 2,000 people and we are looking to bring more every year.
CECILIA ROSE, University of Victoria Local Committee alum
There is a sense of family and community with WUSC. The number “2000” feels incredibly big – it has doubled over the 8 eight years that I have been involved. The impact is broader than those 2,000 students when you think of the connections and network they have built in Canada and abroad. But, there are so many people that need to be sponsored and we can do more. Everyone has a role to play.