April 21, 2020 - 4:15pm

As many of our students and faculty enter the last week of exams and assessments, we just want to send words of encouragement and let you know we are thinking of you as we know how stressful this time can be. In light of that, please see our NEW ITEMS section today - there are lots of supports listed, from new counselling services to fun online activities you can engage in to make you smile and help you connect with others. 

Our next update will be Thursday, April 23. You can always reach us at universityrelations@viu.ca.



Students and employees:

1: Volunteer with the Vision Mate program: For Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, physical distancing can present a unique set of challenges that can contribute to feelings of isolation that many already experience on a daily basis. The CNIB Foundation has adapted one of its core program offerings, the Vision Mate program, to engage volunteers to connect virtually with participants by phone or online at least once a week. With physical distancing measures in place, it can be difficult for people with sight loss to pick up their groceries and prescriptions. If you’re willing to help, they would love to hear from you. More info.

2: In the spirit of continuous learning and providing support to our communities at large, we bring to you this webinar on Tuesday April 28, 1 - 2 pm: Building Unity During the Pandemic: Addressing Xenophobic Attitudes and Behaviours in association with the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR BC chapter) and the BC Council for International Education (BCCIC). VIU is pleased to be the sponsor for this important webinar.  

3: Vision2020 is Live: This year’s VIU Graphic Design Grad Show has transformed into an online experience. So stay safe, stay indoors and check out the show from the comfort of your couch as we celebrate our graduates. 

4: Looking for a fun, educational art activity for the kids? The Bateman Foundation is working hard to adapt and continue its mission of connecting people to nature using art and is proud to present an online digital resource page that includes virtual tours of current exhibits, free-to-download education materials and messages from Robert Bateman. 


Student-specific updates: 

1: New free counselling service for students: The BC government has launched Here2Talk, a new mental health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students. The service offers confidential, free single-session services by app, phone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. VIU’s own Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs, Irlanda Price, was part of the working/implementation group for this project and had the chance to test the app last week. It’s fast, easy and very user friendly and will complement our own services and supports greatly! More information is available on the VIU News website. 

2: Elder Support for the week of April 21 - 24: VIU’s Elders-in-Residence are available this week for phone calls with students who want some support or words of encouragement. Visit the VIU Shq’apthut Facebook page for the full schedule. 

3: Have your say on the impact of COVID-19: Statistics Canada is asking post-secondary students to provide their perspective on the impact of the #COVID-19 pandemic on their lives by filling out an online survey. The purpose is to provide early insight into the educational, employment and financial impacts of the pandemic on students, and the information will be used to evaluate the need for services and assistance programs.

4: VIU’s Office of Co-Curricular Engagement and Learning is organizing virtual social strengthening activities for students. Check out the full schedule and access the individual events in VIU’s online events calendar. Upcoming events include:  


Employee specific updates:

1: Play the facial recognition game: Before COVID, we saw each other on a daily basis, but did we really see each other? You might be good at recognizing faces, and could probably identify your siblings, cousins and even co-workers from a distance. Generally speaking, we can describe a person by their hair colour, skin colour or how tall they are but we may not be able to remember the colour of their eyes. We thought a game of Guess Who? would be a fun way to broaden our connection to our VIU family and a way to get to know our co-workers a little better. Email universityrelations@viu.ca a photo of you as a child, not a baby, because let’s face it, babies all look pretty much the same, plus a current picture of you by Monday, April 27, 2020. We will put together a photo album on our Keeping Connected Facebook page and you can all guess who they are.

2: Tips on setting up your home office: Are you still struggling to stake a claim to a small corner of your home where you can work now that you can’t go into the office?  Check out this story in Esquire, featuring expert advice from VIU Psychology professor Dr. Lindsay McCunn.



Student and Employee reminders:

1: Got a virtual event you want to promote? Don’t forget to add it to the VIU Events calendar! To add your event, go to campusevents.viu.ca, click on the Menu on the right-hand side, and scroll down the list of options to click on “Submit Event.”

2: Chemistry Department produces sanitizer solutions for essential service personnel: Chemistry technicians Shelley Gellein and Peter Diamente are reworking their daily routines to include preparation of sanitizer solutions for their colleagues who remain on campus to provide essential services. The preparation is based on the World Health Organization formulations. Thanks to Shelley and Peter for keeping their colleagues safe! 

3: Help a senior: You can help seniors stay connected and healthy by volunteering for the new province-wide initiative Safe Seniors, Strong Communities. The program is a partnership between United Way’s Better at Home program, bc211 and the BC Ministry of Health. It connects seniors 65 and older with a volunteer who can help them with grocery shopping, meal preparation, prescription pick-up or a friendly check-in call. People can volunteer at www.bc211.ca. If you need help you can dial 2-1-1 to access the organization’s help line, which provides free information and referral to a range of community, social and government services. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

4: VIU’s Faculty of International Education is Introducing Culture Kitchen: A weekly Facebook Live cooking show hosted by VIU Intercultural Program Coordinator Simón Schachner on Tuesdays starting at 5 pm. Each week features a different student or recent alumnus demonstrating how to cook one of their favourite dishes. Follow VIU Cultural Connections on Facebook to join in on the fun. Live comments and greetings encouraged.

5: Facilities Updates: Reminder: Visit our closed/open website for up-to-date information on all VIU’s facilities. 

6: Emotional Supports: We have created a list of both VIU and community supports that are available for everyone – please reach out if you need to and encourage others to do so as well. 

7. VIU Library: We are here to help, with several academic supports and work/study-break resources, too! The 24/7 Library Commons remains open via card access and is now well stocked with VIU-made hand sanitizer, thanks to our amazing Chemistry colleagues.


Student-specific reminders:

1: VIU Cares: Introducing a new daily Zoom chat for current students. Need to chat or connect? Have questions? Join our daily Zoom sessions for a Live Chat with VIU staff members. These sessions run daily Monday to Friday from 3-4 pm. 

2: IMPORTANT COUNSELLING UPDATE: Distance counselling for VIU students is available through VIU Counselling Services from Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 4 pm. To book an appointment:

For domestic students:

  • Call 250.740.6416, leave a voice message with your name, student number and email, and you will be contacted by Counselling Services to set up an appointment. 

For international students:

  • Email Counselling.International@viu.ca (this email is monitored Monday to Friday from 8:30 am - 4 pm). Indicate your name and student number only (the auto-reply from the email will indicate next steps). You will be contacted by International Counselling Services to set up an appointment.

For Cowichan students:

  • Please email advising.cowichan@viu.ca if you would like an Educational Advisor/Counsellor to contact you by email, phone or Zoom meeting. Please provide your full name, phone number, student number (if applicable), best times to reach you during our regularly scheduled work week and your preferred way for us to contact you. Educational Advisor/Counsellors will be available Monday to Friday from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm.

Please ensure your phone number and email match your student record. If this information does not match, please update your student record. If you are experiencing a crisis, you can reach out to the Vancouver Island Crisis Line via phone at 1‑888-494-3888 (24/7), text or chat at 250-800-3806 (6 - 10 pm); Kuu-us Crisis Line (24/7); and YouthInBC online chat (noon to 1 am).

3: The Medical Clinic on VIU’s Nanaimo Campus remains open on an appointment basis only. Patients can continue to leave a message at 250-740-6620 to book telephone appointments.

4: Student Affairs needs YOUR input: What online events or workshops would you like to see more of to support you during this time? Please send your suggestions and comments to ­­studentaffairsadmin@viu.ca.

5: May the Fourth be with All of Us Student Contest: With the hopes of finding curiosity and inspiration in the middle of all this upheaval, the Office of Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity challenges you to get your creative juices flowing this spring! From essays to haikus to pics – there is something for everyone. Win some VIU swag and contribute to VIU’s historical documentation of Spring 2020, Our Time Like No Other. Check out this link for more details. 

6: Financial Assistance Resources for Students: Are you facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? VIU’s Financial Aid team has created a resource page that lists a variety of supports and relief measures to help you get through this challenging time. It includes VIU supports, government relief measures and other supports.  

7:  International Students: 


Employee-specific reminders:

1: Coffee with the President: VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Deb Saucier is working from her home office right now, but she’s eager to maintain connections with employees. Interested in a Zoom coffee break with the president? This is a chance to check in and chat about how life is going – what your home workstation looks like, what cool books you’re reading or podcasts you’re listening to, and the music that keeps you going. Email rsvp@viu.ca to get your name on the list for the next Zoom Coffee with the President. 

2: Join Keeping Connected VIU - a new Facebook group for VIU employees that aims to give colleagues a place to share posts, and help each other smile during this time of social distancing. We’re used to seeing each other in the cafeteria, in the classroom, in the hallways and around campus, but without that physical space to interact, we thought this group would be a great place to spread some positivity. Share a video of you playing your favourite song on the guitar, a picture of your workspace at home, pictures of your furry “co-workers,” fun videos that are helping you keep a smile on your face, memes to make us laugh and messages of positivity for our community. Whatever you think would help brighten everyone's day. Join by searching Keeping Connected VIU on Facebook.

3: Teaching & Learning in a Digital World: Instructors in VIU’s Trades and Applied Technology are blogging about their adventures in the switch from face-to-face to alternative delivery teaching and assessment. Follow along to learn about what tools, technologies and Zoom backgrounds are working for them. 



  • VIU’s COVID-19 website (go here first)  
  • Employee and student emails (email will be used for broad community updates and any major changes; the website will contain all the updates)
  • VIU’s Safety App
  • VIU Twitter feeds: @viunews@viuniversity

Tags: Announcements

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