CRS Seminar: York University Initiatives & Syrian Refugee Resettlement: Lessons for Responses to the Current Crisis in Afghanistan

October 19, 2021 @ 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

The crisis in Afghanistan has sparked renewed and urgent interest in refugee sponsorship and support on university campuses. One key question is how to best undertake such initiatives within the university context. This seminar will share experiences and lessons from past York University efforts to help inform this conversation.

In 2015, in response to increased global displacement, including the Syrian refugee crisis, York University undertook a multi-pronged approach to participating in refugee sponsorship and awareness-building. Three pillars of this approach were: 1) York’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative (2015-2019), which involved refugee sponsorship teams composed of faculty, staff and students that joined in the pan-GTA Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, as well as engaging students in a “Refugees Welcome Here!” campaign; 2) Osgoode Hall Law School student participation in the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program to support sponsors groups with the legal aspects of resettlement; and, 3) supporting increased refugee sponsorship commitments by York’s World University Service of Canada Committees on the Glendon and Keele campuses.

Three leaders of these efforts will share reflections and lessons stemming from these initiatives to help inform new and renewed sponsorship initiatives. People engaged in or considering University-based refugee support efforts are particularly encouraged to attend and to share information about their initiatives during the discussion period.

Guest speakers

John Carlaw is a postdoctoral Research Fellow under the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Migration and Integration program at X University, Toronto. John holds a PhD from York’s Department of Political Science and served as Project Lead of York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative, a refugee sponsorship and education initiative at the Centre for Refugee Studies from 2015 to 2019.

Pierre-André Thériault is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where he researches in the area of immigration and refugee law. Pierre-André recently obtained a PhD from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, where he supervised law students working on refugee sponsorship applications in partnership with the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program and helped organize York’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative.

Humaima Ashfaque is an A-IPC Candidate with the CBIC and is a First Responder with the Canadian Red Cross’s COVID19 Disaster Management Team. Humaima holds a BSc From York’s Global Health Program and was a Project Student Ambassador for York University’s Syria Response and Refugee Initiative from the Winter 2016 semester until the project’s conclusion.


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