The Laidlaw Hall stage looked like a national news studio on Friday, Nov. 20. Veteran journalist and UCC parent Susan Ormiston “anchored” a powerful, panel discussion about the Syrian refugee crisis. Then, community service director Craig Parkinson announced UCC would sponsor, starting in January, a Syrian refugee family and help them resettle into Canadian society.
“This course of action is not about bleeding hearts,” said Parkinson. “It’s about helping a vulnerable family start a new life in Canada, one that is safe, compassionate and constructive to Canadian society in the future. We have a moral duty to do something.”
For anyone who’s turned away from the steady media flow of packed boats and haunted childrens’ eyes, it was impossible to do so at this assembly. Confronting the issue head on, Ormiston graciously helped organize two guests who’ve been on the ground. Syrian activist Maher Azem, who left Damascus a decade ago, organized the recent Syrian Film Festival. The students watched a wrenching short film he selected, Tiny Souls, about children in the Jordan camps. As well, Toronto Star foreign writer Marina Jimenez spoke about what she saw at the Jordan camps, and her efforts to secure safe passage to Canada for one particular family whose daughter won her heart.
A new student club will helm the sponsorship efforts in early 2016, led by IB2 student Simon Broer. The goal is to finance the family’s living costs for one year and to help them find housing, employment, household items and resettlement assistance.