Student movements and campaigns for Syrians at York University
Presently there’s a fragile truce organized led by USA with cooperation from Russia and present Syrian president Bashar al-Assad; it does not include rebels and has seen a continuation of exchange in fire. Using the truce the UN is working to bring humanitarian aid to war stricken areas. Journalists including CBC are using it to gather information and provide pictures of war-torn regions. Throughout the war community activists to bring attention to the crisis and have created opportunities for the public to assist. This includes students at York University.
Throughout the Winter semester students at York University have led multiple movements and campaigns in support of Syrian refugees, taking steps to increase awareness about the impact of conflict on locals and raise money to help Syrians as well as others in the East. Last week was specified as a week for raising awareness for Syrian refugees. Students set up tables to collect clothing and raise awareness about Syrians’ situation in Canada.
Movements and support for Syrian refugees has been continuing since the start of the winter semester. On Monday January 6 York students began to return for another gruelling semester. On Tuesday they were met with “A Refugee Camp in the Heart of Campus” campaign in Vari Hall. The program was at schools across Canada, not just York.
This 3-day exhibit showed tents from refugee camps, living standards, and served meals (beans and rice). It also promoted a referendum set to take place in March to raise the student tuition contribution from 3 cents/credit to 5 cents/credit to help the WUSC Student Refugee Program.
The WUSC Student Refugee Program is one that helps refugee students outside of Canada, those displaced from their country of origin, resettle and study in Canada.
Tayjun Rodney, a political science student says the program “is a positive for refugees because they are in refugee camps essentially because they are not in their home countries, however problematic factors associated with aid, including, but not limited to brain drain and subsequent lack of third world development”
On February 4, in Scott Library, second floor, one group ran a campaign entitled “4 Days 4 Syria”. It included collecting scarves for Syrians and raising funds for Syrians through a bake sale. Photographs of Syrians were also used to raise funds through a silent auction.
Similar to “Life of a Mesopotamian Refugee” movement a second group held “Live in for Libraries”, February 4-11. On the first floor of Scott Library two students lived in a tent to raise awareness and funds for libraries in the third world. They were relieved by fellow activists for meals and bathroom breaks but remained in the
tent for 1 week.
Canada welcomed its 25,000th refugee on Saturday February 27 in Montreal. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada is open to refugees. York students have been active in taking action to help refugees fleeing Daesh and coming to Canada.