TORONTO, September 4, 2018 — 129 refugee youth will be starting their first week of school across Canada this week as part of the World University Service of Canada’s Student Refugee Program. Their arrival marks the 40th anniversary of youth-to-youth sponsorship in Canada through the program.
The Student Refugee Program is the only program of its kind to combine opportunities for resettlement and post-secondary education. Since its creation in 1978, it has supported more than 1,900 young refugees from 39 countries of origin to resettle and study at universities, colleges, and CEGEPs across Canada.
“Welcoming the 40th cohort of students is a remarkable flagship moment for us,” said Michelle Manks, Senior Manager of the Student Refugee Program. “These youth are so resilient and determined. They have so much to offer. But they face incredible obstacles to realizing their full potential. Education is one of the most effective ways to ensure brighter futures for all young refugees, regardless of the durable solution.”
The Student Refugee Program was among the first private sponsorship initiatives under Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. It began with one student at Carleton University and has since grown to over 125 students annually studying at over 80 post-secondary institutions from coast to coast to coast.
“As a beneficiary of the program, I think I am exhibit A as to why it’s very important,” said Leonard Honore, a past sponsored student at the University of Waterloo. “There are a lot of people who have been displaced and who are looking for opportunities for a post-secondary education. WUSC is one of the only organizations to provide such an opportunity. It gives people a lot of hope that they can look at life beyond just the troubles they have gone through and toward a better future.”
The program is unique for its peer-to-peer model which allows young global citizens on Canadian campuses to take a leadership role in welcoming and facilitating the integration of newly arrived students.
“Peers helping peers to adapt to the university life makes a difference,” Honore continued, who is now a member of the WUSC sponsoring group at the University of Waterloo. “Students know firsthand what struggles they face and how the university system works. This model allows them to help sponsored students integrate more easily.”
This model has attracted global attention in recent years for its effectiveness in creating more welcoming communities. This past August, WUSC hosted four students from Italy and the UK in Ottawa, Ontario to participate in its training for youth sponsors. The international visitors spent their time learning about the structure of Canada’s unique program so they could take what they learned back to their countries and help in continuing to create more pathways to resettlement.
While the students in this year’s cohort are attending various post-secondary institutions across the country, one thing is certain: all arriving students will be welcomed with open arms from youth just like them, ready and eager to help them begin their new lives in Canada.
For More Information:
Joni Ward, Communications Officer, WUSC
613-761-3699 | firstname.lastname@example.org