Ryerson University community steps up to sponsor 11 families and 44 Syrian refugees with Lifeline Syria

Sponsorship challenge launched by university to tackle one of the world's greatest refugee crisis

TORONTO, July 20, 2015 /CNW/ - Ryerson University today announced that it is the first organization in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to commit to sponsoring 11 Syrian families or 44 refugees in cooperation with the citizen lead group Lifeline Syria. Last month, Lifeline Syria was launched to galvanize citizens and organizations to sponsor 1,000 Syrian refuges in the GTA over the next two years.

Timed to coincide with the closing festivities of Eid-al-Fitr, students, faculty and city community leaders with ties to Ryerson have launched the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which has 11 sponsorship teams each committing to supporting a family of Syrian refugees for one year.

Nearly 100 students, staff and faculty have already signed on as leaders, supporters and volunteers to assist with the sponsorship groups. They have all been deeply moved by what The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees calls "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era."  Many are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants and some were the beneficiaries of the original Operation Lifeline which settled Indochinese refugees in 1971.

"The Ryerson Lifeline Syria Challenge is an incredible opportunity for us to reiterate individual Canadians' commitment to human rights and social justice," said Samantha Jackson, a graduate of Ryerson's Immigration and Settlement Studies, who is coordinating the Ryerson community volunteers. "I urge anyone who is interested to become involved."

"As has been demonstrated many times, it's remarkable what can be achieved when caring people share a common goal," said Sheldon Levy, President of Ryerson University. "I am proud of the Ryerson community's leadership in responding to this situation and very pleased to support it."

Along with President Levy, the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge team leaders include:

  • Ryerson University Provost and Vice President Academic Mohamed Lachemi;
  • Vice President Research and Innovation, Wendy Cukier;
  • Ryerson University Alumnus, Valerie Pringle, Radio and Television Arts, 1974;
  • Ratna Omidvar, Executive Director and Adjunct Professor, Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ted Rogers School of Management and Chair, Lifeline Syria;
  • Christina Sass-Kortsak, Ryerson University Assistant Vice President, Human Resources;
  • Steven Murphy, Dean, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University;
  • Marsha McEachrane Mikhail, Director, Ryerson International and International Liaison Officer;
  • Marion MacKenzie, CEO GCI Group and Special Advisor to Ryerson University, Office of Vice President Research and Innovation;
  • Anver Salojee, Professor, Department of Politics and Public Administration
  • Michael Adams, President, Environics Group; and 
  • Ms. Thuy Nguyen

"The political instability in Syria has led to four million Syrian refugees and at least seven million internally displaced," said Omidvar. "Many jurisdictions are stepping forward to provide resettlement. Canada has committed to resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees over three years. However, in order to meet this commitment we need ordinary citizens to step up. The response at Ryerson has been fantastic and we hope it will inspire other institutions, groups and individuals to follow their lead."

Working with Lifeline Syria, Ryerson team leaders and their student, faculty and alumni supporters will:

  1. Welcome and settle arriving refugees;
  2. Help recruit, train and assist sponsoring groups over the next two years to welcome and support refugee families during their first year in the GTA;
  3. Work with the Syrian community in the GTA to ensure that they help shape and participate in this initiative;
  4. Convene and engage community leaders in the GTA as champions for the program;
  5. Work with governments at all levels to ensure that these sponsorships are approved quickly, and that the refugee families are processed quickly, so they can arrive in Canada as soon as possible with access to the services they need;
  6. Work with sponsorship groups now holding contracts with the federal government helping them to link with local groups interested in sponsoring refugees;
  7. Work to ensure that proper funding and supports are available from government and civil society generally to the refugee families.

To learn more or get involved, visit www.ryerson.ca/lifelinesyria

Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and is home to more than 38,000 students, including 2,300 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 165,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca

SOURCE Ryerson University

For further information: Kathleen Powderley, 416-803-5597, Kathleen@responsiblecommunications.ca


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