Messages from Jamie Cassels

New UVic initiatives to support refugees — Sept. 17, 2015

Dear colleagues,

I wanted to follow up on my email of Sept. 11 to let you know the specific ways in which our university is responding to the international refugee crisis, and how we as individual members of this community can help.

I've been very impressed with the response within our university community and with the many initiatives that have been or are being developed.

We've created this website to share information about your initiatives that are under way and about other ways to sponsor a refugee in Canada or to join the efforts of local and international organizations that are providing aid to asylum-seekers and refugees, as well as news on relevant events and activities on campus.

As an institution, our university centrally will provide $300,000 to support the following two initiatives:

  1. We will be providing new funding to the World University Services Canada (WUSC) UVic Local Committee to double the number of student refugee spaces on campus for the next three years. This new university support will allow a total of up to eight new students from Syria and other regions to attend UVic each year as part of their resettlement in Canada and to pursue their education.

    UVic has a long history of sponsoring refugees and bringing them to our campus through WUSC. Currently, four students who began their studies this month are here under the Student Refugee Program, funded by a combination of university support and an annual UVSS/GSS student levy. WUSC is an organization with well-established infrastructure, expertise and experience in the field. We've also indicated to the UVic WUSC Local Committee that we stand ready to assist their efforts with additional administrative and program support and expertise.
  1. The Division of Continuing Studies will dedicate $25,000, plus in-kind assistance, to support English language and job-skills training for refugees in Greater Victoria.

    We're currently talking to local resettlement agencies about how our assistance can best be targeted. Continuing Studies has extensive experience providing this type of support to both refugees and international students.

In addition, UVic will match up to an additional $50,000 in contributions from members of our university community who wish to support UVic's response. Details about how to contribute and activate these matching funds are available at

Moreover, our university and people across this campus are very strong supporters of the United Way. Several of United Way's charities also work with refugees, including the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA). I encourage members of our community to give through this means as well.

Thank you again for your generosity and compassionate responses, and for your support for the University of Victoria's role in this urgent global issue.

With thanks and best wishes,


Jamie Cassels, QC
President and Vice-Chancellor

UVic response to the international refugee crisis — Sept. 11, 2015

Dear colleagues,

It has become increasingly clear that Canadians must act to help refugees fleeing conflict and insecurity around the globe.

This has been brought home recently by the heartbreaking images of Syrian refugees.

Our university is committed to doing its part to respond to this global humanitarian crisis. We are currently exploring ways we can help that draw upon our academic and research strengths. We are also working with organizations that have the relevant infrastructure, expertise and experience to determine the most effective way for UVic to contribute to their efforts.

As a result of these discussions, we’ll be in a position to make a more concrete announcement regarding UVic’s assistance in the next week.

In the meantime, I want to recognize the efforts of university community members who have stepped forward to respond as individuals or within their department and units, and I want to thank them for their contributions.

I also want to urge any of you who are pulling together public forums, organizing refugee sponsorship initiatives, or taking action on this issue in some other way to please send the details to so that we can share that information along with contacts for refugee sponsorship and resettlement organizations. We are in the process of creating a website that will be available early next week to function as a clearing house for this important information. Please watch the "featured" section of for news about the availability of the website.

I have been very impressed by the outpouring of sympathy and commitment in our community and look forward to working with you on shaping our university's next steps.

Many thanks for your engagement with this issue, and all the best. 


Jamie Cassels, QC
President and Vice-Chancellor