Ryerson University more than doubles Syrian refugee sponsorship goal as support surges

TORONTO, Sept. 14, 2015 /CNW/ - Ryerson University's Lifeline Syria Challenge announced today that it is more than doubling its target for bringing Syrian refugees to Canada. Its initial goal, announced July 20, 2015 was to sponsor 11 families or 44 refugees. The new target is 25 families or 100 people. This represents 10 per cent of the target established by the citizen-led Lifeline Syria which seeks to arrange private sponsorship of 1000 people in the GTA over the next two years.

"The image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi was a turning point," said Wendy Cukier, Executive Lead, Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge and Vice President Research and Innovation, Ryerson University. "We have been flooded with offers to help: new sponsors, new donors and new volunteers. "The Ryerson community is committed to doing all it can to address what has been called the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Students, alumni, faculty, administrators and partners of the university are stepping up. This initiative aligns with our mission to meet societal needs, our focus on city building and diversity, and our commitment to providing meaningful experiential learning for the next generation of leaders and changemakers."


To date, more than 240 student, staff and faculty volunteers have become involved in the initiative and with additional public support have raised more than $270,000. Nearly half of these supporters have joined the challenge over the last week. To sign up as a volunteer or to donate, visit www.ryerson.ca/lifelinesyria. Ryerson's group of volunteers, made up mostly of students, have already jumped into action by: curating important information for refugees who will settle in the GTA; translating materials into Arabic; researching housing options for incoming families; planning a campus food drive; and planning additional fundraisers. Some volunteers are joining sponsorship groups and others are organized around themes according to their areas of expertise and the needs of refugees: banking; health and wellness; language; general support for resettling in Toronto; citizen engagement; and spiritual support. Additionally, students from the Immigration and Settlement Studies program have completed placements with Lifeline Syria. Ryerson's Lifeline Syria Challenge is also looking to expand its program to accept other Ryerson program placement students and opportunities to provide experiential learning opportunities for student changemakers.


Along with President Sheldon Levy, the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge sponsor 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 co-leader Ms. Thuy Nguyen who first came to Canada as a Vietnam refugee in 1975.

Each sponsor team leader has personally committed $5,000 toward the estimated $27,000 needed to support and settle a family for one year. Leaders and their team members must complete an application for sponsorship and assume responsibility for the family for a year. They are also working with volunteers to help raise funds and ensure refugee families have the support they need to succeed including: finding housing, jobs, financial services, education and most of all welcoming them to Canada.

To learn more 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. Ryerson is Canada's first Ashoka Changemaker Campus and is committed to mainstreaming innovation across the curriculum. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca

SOURCE Ryerson University

For further information: Media contact: Kathleen Powderley, Responsible Communications, 416-803-5597, Kathleen@responsiblecommunications.ca


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