New Student Refugee Award Kicks Off WorldVIU Days

Celebrating cultural diversity: a scene from an inspired performance at a recent WorldVIU Days event.

October 27, 2016 - 11:30am

The VIU International Refugee Newcomer Award launches at the annual event, which celebrates the University’s cultural diversity

This year’s WorldVIU Days will kick off with the launch of a new Vancouver Island University (VIU) award to help refugees pursue higher education.

The VIU International Refugee Newcomer Award will support newcomers to the mid-Vancouver Island region who have arrived as refugees and are seeking post-secondary education to train or retrain for a career in Canada.

The award will be announced at Art to Start, the kick-off event for WorldVIU Days – an annual week-long celebration of cultural diversity on campus that runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.

The new award grew out of a VIU fundraising effort that began last year in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. “The goal was to have an impact as soon as possible,” says Darrell Harvey, VIU’s International Projects Coordinator. “We want to provide funding to help these newcomers pursue their studies at VIU.”

The award is available to students who have arrived in Canada as refugees in the past five years. Scholarships up to $5,000 are available based on financial need; the number of awards handed out will depend on the amount of applications received (there are two application deadlines per year). For more information, please visit Scholarships & Awards and scroll down to “VIU International Refugee Newcomer Award.”

The award launch is one of many events scheduled during WorldVIU Days. This annual occasion, which began in 2010 and is open to the public, features a range of free activities taking place at the Nanaimo and Cowichan campuses.

This year’s theme for WorldVIU Days is Creating a Connected Community Through the Arts. “All of the events have some kind of arts-based approach,” says Mackenzie Sillem, Coordinator of International Student Retention and a WorldVIU Days organizer.

One of the highlights involves the creation of a mural with artist-in-residence Esteban Camacho Steffensen. A dual national from the US and Costa Rica, Steffensen will discuss the concept for the mural with VIU students, staff and faculty. “He’s going to do a workshop where he teaches students to turn their own art into public art,” says Sillem. “Then they’ll work together to develop imagery that reflects the idea of belonging to this specific place – VIU, the West Coast, Vancouver Island.”

Esteban will return to VIU’s Nanaimo campus in February 2017 to paint the mural during International Development Week (the mural’s location has yet to be determined).

Many other activities are planned for WorldVIU Days, including a Human Library, live music, film showings, workshops and more. The week-long celebration concludes with the WorldVIU Festival, which will feature exhibits, performances and a fashion showcase. Some events require registration; for more information, please visit WorldVIU Days.

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MEDIA CONTACT: 

Communications and Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 | E: communications@viu.ca | T: @viunews


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