November 6, 2015 - 12:30pm

As we celebrate World VIU Days this week, Vancouver Island University faculty, staff and students are joining people across Canada and around the world in a commitment to do everything we can to assist hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled civil war in their country.

Among refugees are young people with great promise who have left behind not only a beloved home but the opportunity to pursue their dreams through academic studies and the rewarding careers and lives that follow.

We think of those young people, along with our colleagues at universities whose work as scholars and professors has been cut short as they flee a dangerous and volatile situation and the threat of persecution.

In response to the Syrian refugee crisis, VIU faculty, staff and students have come together to initiate the creation of the VIU International Refugee Scholarship Fund.

With an initial contribution of $10,000 from the Vancouver Island University Faculty Association, and with all donations matched at 50 cents on the dollar by Vancouver Island University, this fund has been established to accomplish the following initiatives:

  • Fund and support a Syrian student refugee through VIU’s local World University Service of Canada (WUSC) committee and its Student Refugee Program.
  • Fund scholarships for university-aged children of sponsored refugee families arriving in Nanaimo in the coming months.

 In addition, VIU will be joining and supporting the Scholars at Risk program, which assists academics who must flee violence or persecution in their home country, and provides them with opportunities to study and teach at universities abroad.

VIU deeply values the diversity represented by our students who come from more than 80 countries to study at our campuses and live in our communities. International students comprise 17 per cent of our enrolment, a fact that we celebrate as we welcome the diversity of perspectives they bring to enrich us all.

We welcome the support and contributions from organizations and individuals in the communities we serve, in order to achieve the goals we have set out for the VIU International Refugee Scholarship Fund. And we anticipate the day when we shall welcome Syrian student refugees to our campus, and their families into our communities.

This message is on behalf of Dr. Ralph Nilson, President and Vice-Chancellor, and students, faculty and staff who have formed a committee to respond to the Syrian Refugee Crisis.


Here’s how you can help:

--Get involved! Contact to see how you can contribute to the VIU Syria Refugee Response Committee, which is coordinating the VIU community response.

--Support VIU-WUSC! Invite members of VIU-WUSC into your classroom to talk about the Student Refugee Programme and how your students can get involved. Building the capacity of VIU-WUSC is a key part of making a Syrian refugee sponsorship possible.

--Donate to the VIU International Refugee Scholarship Fund. The goal is to raise $40,000 by the end of the school year. As part of VIU’s “Giving Tuesday” initiatives, the VIU Foundation will match your donation dollar-for-dollar to the VIU International Refugee Scholarship Fund. This is a limited time opportunity. Please go to the special online donor page before December 1:, and select the VIU International Refugee Scholarship Fund as the designated fund. You may also donate in person at Advancement and Alumni Relations, or by calling 250.740.6214.


Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443  C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

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