Student Refugee Program

UTSU-New College WUSC Local Committee wins second award

The UTSU-New College WUSC Local Committee was recognized for the second time in a row as the winner for the Best Event of the Year in WUSC campus awards 2021-2022 academic year. These awards are annual and recognize outstanding Local Committees and the great work they do. 

This recognition is for the event hosted on June 20, 2022 in celebration of World Refugee Day, an international annual day that celebrates the stories of refugees and asylum seekers around the world. Our Local Committee was first recognized for the best event of the year in the 2020-2021 awards for the film screening event. The event was about a film Salam Neighbor (2015) that documents the lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan. We were joined by one of the film directors Chris Temple who generously shared his experience with us. 

The UTSU-New college Local Committee has worked hard to shed awareness and education around refugee issues. We are always so pleased that our efforts are being recognized. 


Program Objectives

  • Lead and facilitate student led and developed programming and activities
  • Create awareness around global and refugee issues
  • Develop and implement shared strategies to ensure successful cultural, social, and academic integration of refugee students
  • Build a community among refugee students and their peers at U of T 
  • Connect with the Local Committees & admin to explore opportunities for shared activities and best practices

Program Framework

The UTSU’s Student Refugee Program works at three levels to support refugee students from their first day all the way to graduation, and creates opportunities for students to learn, connect and gain access to many different resources on and off-campus.

The UTSU works with refugee students to help make their stories more visible allowing other students to learn more about refugee experiences. The UTSU also helps to raise awareness on campus through a variety of outreach and engagement activities helping bring the U of T community together in support of the common pursuit of equal access to higher education and raise awareness of refugee issues.

Local Committee

  • The role of the committee is to support in the year of settlement in areas of financial, cultural, academic and social needs.


  • Our program aims to provide greater support to the incoming SRP student through a strong Local Committee structure. Building ties with other Local Committees on the campus allows for opportunities to partner, share and learn from one another and leads to a better experience for incoming students.

Community Connections

Students may face many challenges throughout their undergraduate studies and require different support at different times. We are working hard through our Community Connections initiative to connect students in the years of their undergraduate education, helping to create and build community.

Education and Awareness

The program works to educate the U of T community and raise awareness around refugee issues. We collaborate on events with others, both on campus and off campus (student associations, community organizations, and partners) to have the largest impact.

SRP Student Stories

Abdulrahman (Fall 2022)

Hello, My name is Abdulrahman Mubarak. I arrived in Canada through WUSC’s Student Refugee Program (SRP) in August 2022.

The SRP program gives eligible refugee youth an opportunity to be in a place where they are safe and can build a bright future for themselves.

While I was a refugee, I faced a lot of challenges from being demoralized, depressed, and sometimes being mocked for my dreams. But I always motivated myself, because I had a dream I needed to achieve and here I am.

For the past months that I have been in Canada, I’ve spent a good amount of time with the UTSU-New College Local Committee, from the first minute I saw them at the airport until now. The supportive, helpful and friendly members of the Local Committee made my settlement in my new home easier than I thought.

Moreover, during my first few days here, I was bored and lonely because I had arrived before the Fall semester started, but when school started everything changed:  Making new friends from around the world, and meeting with people from different cultures was one of the most exciting things I have ever done.

Furthermore, being a student at U of T is a great experience for anybody who seeks knowledge because through many libraries here on campus, I can now find rich-resources. 


Ultimately, the great efforts from WUSC-SRP that allow refugee youth to access higher education will always be appreciated. I hope that someday I’ll be able to offer the same support to students in need of it.

Nyandeng (Fall 2021)

I arrived in Canada – Pearson International Airport on August 27th 2021. I had mixed reactions. Part of me was excited about the new adventure. Beginning a new life, making new friends and above all, starting my post-secondary education. The other part of me was scared of starting a new life in a totally different environment so far away from home. I was wondering about how best to integrate in the new society.

From the airport, I was taken to the Delta Chelsea Hotel where I spent my 14 days in quarantine. Quarantine was quite boring at first, however, I got used to it. During the quarantine period, I managed to reconnect with family and friends via social media. It was the best feeling ever. A number of people from the UTSU-New College Local Committee were able to check in with me as well on a daily basis. This made the days fly by.

September 10th 2021 marked the end of quarantine and my first day in New College residence. I was so happy to finally breathe fresh air and get to meet members of my Local Committee who have been extremely supportive throughout my quarantine period. They have been offering both emotional and social support. I will never take that for granted. Canada is actually a safe haven for me because of them. Their warm welcome made me feel right at home.

In the last few days I have been able to attend some of my classes in-person and the rest online. I am getting used to different types of foods unlike the early days when eating new foods was more scary. I am experiencing minimum challenges so far thanks to all the wonderful support that I have received.

Jaffar (Winter 2021)

My name is Jaffar, I was a refugee in Kenya before arriving in Canada. Being a refugee for almost a decade was a devastating period in my life, but it didn’t have to end that way. The same life taught me enough to envision my future. I have always been positive and maintained that positivity over the many challenges that I have faced. I never wanted to be a refugee and neither does anyone deserve to be one, but sometimes there are no alternatives.

Through the WUSC-Student Refugee Program, I was fortunate enough to start a new life in Canada, and arrived at the U of T in December 2020. It is like a golden ticket to be here and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I hope we all see and realize that beyond a ‘refugee’ is an individual who is a parent, a child, a game-changer, and are at their most needy points in their lives. Helping directly or indirectly you become part of the bigger story and the future story that I tell.

Skylar (Fall 2019)

My name is Skylar, I was a once among the LBGTQ+ aslyum seekers in Uganda, one of the most homophobic countries in the world. Being strong and hoping for a better future made me fight for my rights and those who shared the same pain with me. I am now safe and sound here in Canada, achieving my dreams at the greatest University in Toronto. 

Being among the Student Refugee Program (SRP students) makes me feel alive because if it wasn’t this, who knows if I would be here. I am pretty sure that I don’t only have safety and education, but I have a caring community at this University, and they are still doing all they can to help those in need as well.

Young refugees have many talents and power to contribute to the world. However, they are being victims of the politics of their home countries which make them lose a chance to continue their education. To students and everyone who donate to this cause to make sure students like me get back to school, are my heroes and I am glad I am a part of this journey.

Deng (Fall 2018)

Hi there! My name is Deng and I arrived through the WUSC-Student Refugee Program in August 2018. I was welcomed and received by the UTSU-New College Local Committee who supported my integration at U of T. For me, coming to a new environment to start from scratch was challenging yet exciting as well since I have always been optimistic about the future since the time I left my home country.

I would like to pass my gratitude to the WUSC-SRP, organizations and individuals supporting the programs for the impact they have on transforming the lives of young refugees worldwide. Being a refugee is just a status and when given the opportunity, refugees can accomplish anything like everyone.

Program Focus: Fall 2021

Caring For Our Newly Arrived SRP student, Nyandeng:

The UTSU-New College Local Committee has been working hard to welcome Nyandeng to Canada. Our team prepared a Welcome Package for her stay during quarantine, set her room up in New College Residence to make it warm and welcoming, and has spent some one-on-one time helping her with the social, cultural, and academic integration that is so vital to her success.

From back to school shopping to setting up her T-card and meal plan, helping her obtain her relevant Canadian documentation to understanding weather and climate in Canada, the UTSU-New College Local Committee has focused largely on making sure that Nyandeng is well taken care of.


Fall 2021 Events Coming Soon…

The UTSU-New College Local Committee is hosting a meet up of students coming through the WUSC-SRP program across the three U of T campuses to celebrate around the Thanksgiving holiday and to share some Canadian culture and festivities. Part of our Community Connections programming is to create and build a community for SRP students, and what better way to kick off the fall season!

The UTSU-New College Local Committee alongside our VP Equity are closely following the Afghanistan refugee crisis. Our VP Equity will be supporting the Youth Policy Forum in their panel event later this fall and the UTSU-New College Local Committee will be creating more education and awareness opportunities around this global issue.

Previous SRP Events

2nd Annual Meet & Greet (Oct 2022)

In October 2022, as part of their ongoing community building, the UTSU’s SRP Community Connections group hosted their 2nd annual Meet & Greet at the Student Commons. Former and current SRP student community members from U of T got together for an evening of fun, relationship building, and sharing of their lived experiences as they continue to adjust to University and Canadian life.

XAO: Refugee Panel Discussion (Feb 2022)

In February 2022, the UTSU hosted a discussion about the world refugee crisis, including experts and speakers on the Afghan and Rohingya crises, and a speaker from the Student Refugee Program to provide first-hand experience of the challenges and difficulties refugees face.

Watch a recording of the event here.

World Refugee Day (June 2021)

June 20th is an annual international day celebration honouring and recognizing the strength, courage and resilience of refugees. To celebrate, we held a World Refugee Day Art Contest (Theme: Hope and Courage) where participants created artwork to illustrate a story of hope and courage. The theme honoured the powerful stories of refugees around the world.

Eid Card Art Party (April 2021)

On April 29th, 2021 the UTSU hosted a live online art lesson in collaboration with the U of T Muslim Students’ Association to make Eid cards for Syrian newcomer families celebrating Eid al Fitr this year. The art lesson was conducted by Syrian painter, sculptor and ceramicst Farid Abdulbaki. Digital photos of the cards and messages were collected and shared with Syrian newcomer families in Toronto and the GTA through WoodGreen Community Centre to make this celebration more joyous.

Salam Neighbor - Online film screening & director Q&A (February 2021) - Winner of 2021 WUSC Campus Award for Event of the Year

The UTSU and the UTSU-New College Local Committee hosted the free film screening of “Salam Neighbor” on Tuesday February 23, 2021 as part of Expression Against Oppression (XAO) week. This award winning 2015 documentary focused on the Syrian refugee crisis highlighting the importance of equity and equality among neighbours. Film Director Chris Temple joined the UTSU for a live Q&A session following the film where we learned about his first hand experience in a Syrian refugee camp while filming. Frank Palmay from Lifeline Syria also joined us and provided insight from his organization’s experience in assisting sponsoring groups to help Syrian refugees settle here in Canada.

The Good Lie - Online Film Screening and Director Q&A (November 2020)

On November 19, 2020 The UTSU and the UTSU-New College Local Committee hosted an online screening of the 2014 film “The Good Lie.”  Joined by award-winning French Canadian Director Philippe Falardeau, a lively Q&A followed the film and the director spoke about the journey that Sudanese orphan Theo and his siblings made to Kenya and then to the United States. The film shared the struggles that are often faced in cultural and social integration in a new country.

BINGO NIGHT! (October 2020)

On October 22, 2020 the UTSU Local Committee hosted a fun and interactive bingo event  learning and sharing about the varied refugee student experiences in their country of asylum.

Refugee Education and Gender Equality: A Panel Discussion (October 2020)

On October 29, 2020 the UTSU and the UTSU-New College Local Committee hosted a panel discussion on gender equality and gender equity issues highlighting the challenges that refugee girls face in accessing higher education. Joined by the co-founders of the World With MNR (current UofT students), a representative from the World University Service Canada and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UTSU hosted a lively and important discussion around access and how education has the power to change lives.

World Refugee Day: UTSU x UNHCR Steps with Refugees (June 2020)

On June 20th, 2020 the UTSU and the UTSU-New College Local Committee celebrated World Refugee Day to honour the strength & courage of millions of refugees who are forced to flee their homes, leaving their families and belongings behind. UTSU and the UTSU-New College Local Committee joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s powerful movement called ‘Take A Step on World Refugee Day’ in solidarity with refugees who journeyed great distances to reach safety each year. As participants, we walked, jogged and ran, tracking our steps to contribute to the $2 billion km global target of the UNHCR’s campaign.

Check here or stay tuned to the UTSU Social Media for updates.