MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Like many of our friends, we knew we wanted to do something to make a difference in the Syrian humanitarian crisis. Realizing that coming together with family and friends would create the strongest impact, we decided to make our upcoming wedding double as a fundraiser.
We cancelled our planned ceremony to instead get married at City Hall. Rather than a reception, we will be hosting a fundraiser where friends and family are encouraged to celebrate with us by donating to the Ryerson Lifeline Syria Challenge. We feel very fortunate to be able to contribute in a small way with the support of those around us.
Some are creating information sheets and resource maps. Commerce students will help people open Canadian bank accounts, nursing students will connect newcomers to healthcare resources. As has been demonstrated many times, it's remarkable what can be achieved when caring people share a common goal. I’m proud of the Ryerson community’s leadership in responding to this situation and very pleased to support it.
At the end of the day we all want the same thing — for our children to have a bright future, and to make sure they don’t go to bed hungry. It’s that simple.
For too long I've followed the tragedies of the Syrian Civil War whilst struggling to understand how or what I could do to help. When my lovely aunt, Ratna Omidvar, informed me of Ryerson Lifeline Syria, I realized that there is so much I, and anyone, can do. Most importantly, I realized that one can always effect change in the world by beginning at home. By helping better settle refugees, we are ensuring that these people - whose futures were so cruelly taken away from them - can begin to dream, hope, and live again.
The Torontoism Team from Sotheby's International Realty Canada is a very diverse group of immigrants, the children of immigrants and First Nations. We celebrate our diversity and are energized everyday by the people that we meet. We are very proud that everything Canada has done for us, it is now doing for Syrian refugees. We welcome them realizing that as our forefathers experienced, there is a need for the community to pull together and assist in their resettlement. Our families have experienced leaving everything they cherished behind, and we encourage all Canadians to share their welcome and assist by making a donation.
Team Leaders: Kimberley Ezeard, James King, Penny Brown, Richard Silver, Tracy An, Sherille Layton and Tania Bettencourt
Michael Adams and Thuy Nguyen are very pleased to support Lifeline Syria. Thuy and several members of her family came to Canada from Vienam as refugees in 1975 and she now wishes to help support a Syrian family with generosity and kindness in a manner similar to the way Canadians welcomed her parents and siblings in the late 1970s. For Michael, supporting Lifeline Syria is a way for him to do in 2015 what he did on a more modest scale in the late 1970s when his friends Flora MacDonald and Ron Atkey inspired the Joe Clark government to grant asylum to 50,000 southeast Asian refugees (then known as “boat people”).
Canada is a country of refugees and immigrants. My father was a refugee and I know the struggles he faced finding a safe haven after WWII and the toll it took on his family. This led my family to sponsor a Vietnamese family through the original Operation Lifeline in 1989. We have watched the family we sponsored thrive and prosper and contribute to building our community. I am delighted their daughter Jennifer, a Ryerson Alumna, has also agreed to help the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge.
The enthusiastic outpouring of support in the Ryerson community, particularly among students, is inspiring. They bring fresh ideas and energy to an important cause. I am grateful Lifeline Syria has inspired us to address this terrible crisis and hope others will follow suit.
The Challenge is also an incredible opportunity for students to put their knowledge into action and work together to solve real world problems. Already, the response from our student groups has been both impressive and inspiring, and I look forward to working alongside members of the Ryerson community as we help newcomers make Toronto their home.
Friends and colleagues from the Syrian community have helped me understand why our support is so badly needed at this particular moment in time, and why I want to add my contribution to that of others.
The Ryerson Lifeline Syria Challenge is a tangible way to enact our values. Canadians stand proud of our commitment to global citizens in need, and Ryerson understands better than any institution the value of a fresh start. The Lifeline Syria Challenge embodies the Ted Rogers School of Management's commitment to being active members of our community and living principles of corporate social responsibility. The response from Commerce students has been overwhelming, and I am excited to move forward with the support of all members of the Ryerson community as we help newly arrived refugees feel comfortable and welcome in our city.
Even though I’ve been in Canada for over 30 years I still remember the sense of displacement I faced as a newcomer to Canada. I have spent my life in Canada fostering a welcoming environment for newcomers and helping them settle into their new country. As the Executive Director of the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), housed at the Ted Rogers School of Management, I am honoured to lead Lifeline Syria which aims to bring 1,000 Syrian refugees to the GTA. With colleagues at Ryerson, we plan to sponsor refugee families and so play our role as global citizens and city builders. With the help of students, faculty, staff and alumni, we will make this a successful experience for the refugees, their families and Ryerson University.
But this effort must go beyond Ryerson to other universities, other institutions and ordinary citizens. Together we hope to regenerate and renew the empathy that Torontonians so generously displayed during the Indo-Chinese refugee crisis in the 80s.
What has happened in the subsequent 4 years with the civil war and the advance of ISIS has been a catastrophe; a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. The news reports have made me cry and I feel we must do all we can to help Syrians escape the violence and oppressive politics in their country. It is an international emergency.
I am so happy I can help even one family to come and build a new life in Canada.
The plight of the Syrian refugees is one of the most tragic since the Second World War. Syrian refugees face huge obstacles just to survive daily, and as a family we felt it was our responsibility to do what we could to assist with resettling Syrian refugees in Canada. Becoming a “Team Leader” is a family commitment and is a natural extension of our commitment to social justice, equality and working wherever we are to create a better life for all.
As immigrants to Canada we feel incredibly fortunate to have escaped oppression in apartheid South Africa and to have come to Canada with less than a hundred dollars in our collective pockets. We feel it is imperative for us to extend to others the same opportunity to escape oppression and to begin the long and arduous process of rebuilding their lives in Canada.
My family and I have been following what is happening to the Syrian people with horror and dismay, and have been eager to find a meaningful way to help. I jumped at the opportunity to get involved with LifeLine Syria and am very much looking forward to contributing to their work. As a human resources leader at Ryerson University, I know first-hand how valuable diversity is in our workplace and everyday lives.
I know the work we are doing with Lifeline Syria to welcome people to our country and enable them to make their lives here will further enrich the fabric of our workforce and society in Canada.
As a father of three little kids, that picture of Alan Kurdi washed ashore made me realize that we as citizens of this world had failed, and that we had to do something. God has blessed me and my family with a great life and unlimited opportunity living as Canadians, and I want to share that experience with others. As an alumnus of Ryerson, I was very encouraged by their response to the Syrian humanitarian crisis. In this journey to sponsor a Syrian refugee family, I am excited to have Ryerson along for the ride.
Many people across the world face challenges that most of us can hardly imagine. As Canadians we are privileged, and we have an obligation to make a difference when we can. Supporting a refugee family will have an immediate impact that will extend for generations to come.
As the Syrian humanitarian crisis has worsened, we have all been looking for a way to get directly involved. We are pleased to participate in this remarkable initiative that will bring together the skills, resources and energy of the Ryerson community to provide comprehensive support for Syrian families and make them feel truly welcome in Canada.
Team Leaders: Kathryn Underwood, Peter McCann, Janny Vincent Daniel Cayen, Ashley McCall and Chris Monahan
We are a group of people from Prince Edward County committed to raising funds, as well as donating time and community resources, to sponsor and resettle as many Syrian families as we can over the next few years. While we are not affiliated with any other formal organization, our group includes individuals from churches, the local mosque, service clubs, various associations, and local government.
While Kate was growing up, her family friends sponsored a Vietnamese man who shared in their family celebrations and welcomed them into his own life, continuing to do so over the last 30+ years. The difference the sponsorship made in his life was as important as the impact he has made on theirs.
We want to make the same difference in the lives of Syrians devastated by this senseless civil war. We all have different experiences of migration, and all of us enjoy the cultural vibrancy of living in Toronto and want to share this gift with others. We have seen the many ways that immigrants in Canada have improved our communities with their diverse perspectives and experiences and know they will make as positive a difference in our lives, as we will in theirs.
It is not every day that groups of individuals have the opportunity to directly and tangibly assist in the alleviation of a humanitarian crisis. While the individual contribution of our team – the sponsorship of a single family of refugees – is small in comparison to the catastrophe that continues to unfold in Syria, we are proud to be part of a collective community response that aims to help people in need, one family at a time. We hope that through refugee sponsorship, we can put our privilege and our principles to work, and help one family to transition to a more peaceful and prosperous life in Canada.
As Canadians whose parents and grandparents were fortunate to be welcomed by Canada we are keenly aware of the multitude of stories that make up our cultural fabric. Some new Canadians, like our families, had the ability to choose to migrate and wanted to come to Canada for greater economic prosperity. Unfortunately, too many others are forced to flee their homeland because of violence and war. For them, safety and security and protection of human rights are the primary drivers. We are so grateful for the opportunities that being Canadian has given to our family and are delighted to be able to work with others in the Ryerson community who share our values and our commitment to a fair and just world.
Ryerson’s Lifeline Syria Challenge puts the institutional might and substantial people power of Ryerson and Toronto to work for good. Our diversity and community engagement is our strength at Ryerson and in the City of Toronto. In leading a sponsor team, I am especially motivated to honour the memory of my parents, Emily and Grant, who led by example of service and community engagement. Our team is looking forward to working together and with the talented and dedicated Ryerson Lifeline Syria Challenge community (students, alumni, staff and faculty) to welcome and help resettle a Syrian refugee family. Please visit our website to find out more.
Martin Connell and Linda Haynes founded the Haynes Connell Foundation in 1983 as way for their Family to give back to the Toronto and Global community. Martin and Linda, both recipients of the Order of Canada, have worked to support the charitable sector with experience in both grass roots and board level initiatives. Haynes Connell is a private foundation which donates money to other charitable organizations. All members of the Haynes Connell Family and Foundation live in Toronto, and hope to create a welcoming environment for one of the many families fleeing Syria. There are currently 24 Haynes Connell family members living in Toronto, all excited and ready to assist in this important initiative.
We also know that Aylan Kurdi and his family did nothing to deserve the fate they met in search of safety. We want to do what we can to help families like his because ‘the bell could have tolled’ for any of us, as it did for them.
The Ripple Refugee Project is comprised of 17 Torontonians from various walks of life who are concerned about what is happening in Syria and want to help out. We are currently settling a Syrian family of 8 who arrived in December and will be sponsoring additional families in the near future. We also work to support the efforts of other groups by providing document templates, links to resources and exploring different issues through our blog and by meeting in person with newly-formed sponsorship groups. Our initiatives are also being generously supported by the University Health Network of doctors and members in the community. And we are working with media and our local MP to advocate on Refugee issues and put a human face on the refugee challenge.
When we hear depressing news stories about the loss of innocent lives on the other side of the world, it’s natural to want to tune them out and go about our day. But when we ignore the headlines, we become bystanders. There are countless people in the world who need our help and many social issues that require immediate attention, yet we feel particularly connected to the plight of families who were forced to migrate.
By joining Lifeline Syria, we are acknowledging that the Syrians fleeing for their lives did not choose violence. They did not want to uproot themselves from their beloved homes or disrupt their children’s lives. Hunger, war and persecution have been the daily reality of these refugees, many of whom are children. We are participating in Lifeline Syria because we believe that everyone deserves to feel safe and realize his or her full potential.
Team Leaders: Kiyoye, Momoye and Jona
Like many Canadians, we have watched in horror as this humanitarian crisis has unfolded. While the driving forces of the situation are complex, its devastating effects are clear. In order to survive, many Syrian families need to settle elsewhere. Here in Toronto, we recognize that we are among the world’s most fortunate, and we feel we must do what we can to support a family in need. The Sponsor Leads in our group are supported by a network of caring friends and family, all dedicated to bringing a refugee family to Toronto, and helping them to successfully integrate into society.
Team Leaders: Abby Cook, Joanne Lam, Greg Levey, Raj Tandon & Sidney Thompson
We are a group of 30 extended friends and neighbours who share a desire to do something concrete in the face of this crisis. The problem is enormous and the number of people affected overwhelming, but there is one thing we can do: help a Syrian family make a new home here.
The Ryerson Lifeline Syria Challenge is bold and ambitious. It’s inspiring to be part of a collective movement that has generated such momentum and action. Please visit us on Facebook and www.wwyb.ca. Help us bring a Syrian family to Toronto. Let’s get their Canadian story started!
Team Leader: Frances Bartlett
A core group from the Toronto Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) is working with Ryerson University to bring a Syrian Refugee Family to Toronto. The Quaker history of support for refugees combined with Ryerson’s commitment to community engagement makes this an effective collaboration.
We are a group of professional women who have worked all our adult lives and have traveled widely, some of us to Syria itself when it was a stable country. We are all horrified at its disintegration into civil war and the impact that has had on the millions of ordinary Syrians forced to flee their homes.
We recognize our own good fortune as citizens of Canada, a rich, just society and well established democracy, and want very much to be able to help at least one Syrian family to start a new life here. We see this as an opportunity, and a duty.
We are a group of individuals and families who have been moved to action. We want to bring a Syrian family to Toronto through the Group of Five Refugee Sponsorship Program. We will work together to do all the paperwork, raise money and welcome the family when they arrive. We will provide logistical support in terms of housing, education and employment, and help connect them to a greater Toronto community. We have been moved to action simply because we feel we have the ability to help - through our community links, our time, and our various skill sets. Many of us have been deeply disturbed at the plight of millions of people and we want to have the chance to help at least one family directly.
We are building a community of compassionate, engaged, and practical people who are ready to support one or more families from Syria to settle and thrive in Toronto. We hope to help them create peaceful and contented lives. We believe generosity, effort and empathy are powerful agents that will bring us towards a better future.
Team Leaders: Liz Phillips and Lisa Clarkson
Twenty-five residents in Kensington Apartments Co-op have signed up to support and assist in bringing a high-needs Syrian refugee family to Canada. In two months' time our volunteers have researched housing, collected in-kind donations of household furnishings, completed a budget for the requirements of a family of six for a year, understand the education system here in Toronto for children, adults, ESL, and special ed., researched the health system and received pledges from health professionals for pro-bono work. The fund-raising committee is ready to solicit funds. We welcome your contribution.
Team Leaders: Sewell Russell and John Bryan
We are a group of Toronto individuals, couples, and families united by our desire to help a Syrian family transition to a new life in Canada. We believe that Canada’s strength is its people. We feel grateful for the opportunities that we have had in this country and want to share with others in need. We look forward to helping a family settle in Toronto, offering our support, compassion and friendship.
Team Leader: Kerry McLorg
We are a group wholeheartedly committed to effecting positive change by sponsoring Syrian refugees to Canada. By working together to help people in need, we believe that we can make a difference. We believe in the power of community and collective effort. We want to act on our beliefs through service. As part of the local, national, and global community, we are joining the effort to sponsor Syrian refugees in the context of a renewal of values of internationalism and open-heartedness. We are excited to help and support a family or group to successfully settle in or near Toronto.
Team Leaders: Judy Lipp, Michelle Uy, Bruce Lyne, Barb Sniderman, Lisa Donahue, Brenda MacKay, Natalie Zend, Cybele Oliveira, Lanna MacKay
We are members and friends of a book club who have met over many years to learn about the world through literature. Some of us have parents and grandparents who had to flee their homes. We have experience in health care, education, as well as community and social services. We have an interest in social justice and wish to welcome refugees to become part of our community.
Team Leads: Alice Broughton, Sascha Dho, Roz Doctorow, Lorna Erwin, Anne Fourt, Yvette Matyas, Sharon Moodie, Judy Pocock, Alan Silverman, Penny Stewart, Bill Worrell
“A Hope 4 Humanity” will meet the opportunity, head on, to support a Syrian family. We will lay the foundations of renewed hope in establishing and integrating the family into our rich Canadian Mosaic. We will nurture our newly arrived friends and ensure they are able to quickly and successfully adapt, integrate and contribute towards a positive future into their new home. Together we will continue the Canadian Legacy...A Hope 4 Humanity!
Our team’s background is very diverse. Many of our ancestors were immigrants and we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the benefits of living in Canada today if they weren’t welcomed into Canada with open arms. We believe that no religious, cultural or racial group should be forced from their homeland. It they are, we don’t want to see them denied entry by other countries like the Jews were in the Second World War. We are all humanitarians. We need and want to help the Syrian people who are fleeing their country and we are fortunate to be able to work with other like-minded individuals through the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge.
As a group of employees of Brock University in St. Catharines we are excited to be part of the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge (RULSC)! The humanitarian crisis that is affecting Syrian and other refugees worldwide demands a collective response at many scales. As individuals connected through a university community, we were inspired by the RULSC initiative which highlighted our own capacity for refugee sponsorship. By joining together we are able to offer much more than we could individually and we are grateful for both the inspiration and logistical support offered by RULSC.
What comes around…goes around! Nobody exemplifies this better than our Team Leader, Minh, who is a former Vietnamese refugee. Fast-forward 35 years, and it’s now Minh’s turn to give back and provide a family from Syria with the same opportunity that was afforded to her. The Syrian refugee crisis galvanized Minh’s lifelong gratitude to Canada. She formed Team Full Circle with the support of her exceptionally dynamic and passionate friends. Our team represents what this great country is about: an ethnically diverse mosaic committed to doing the right thing. Gratitude is what fuels us. Please follow us at our website: Team Full Circle.
Team Lead: Minh Ton
We are a group rallying the community of Stirling-Rawdon to sponsor two refugee families from Syria. Multiple members of our group have parents who sponsored refugees during the South-East Asian refugee crisis of the 70's. That legacy has worked to inform our response to the current situation. We acknowledge that Canada is a country of refugees and immigrants. We're proud of the Canadian response to this crisis and feel inspired to make a contribution. While we are not short on enthusiasm, we are grateful to Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge for providing the leadership to help shape and direct our efforts.
The National Yacht Club is a diverse group of sailing enthusiasts in the GTA comprising multiple nationalities and cultures. Our membership includes “previously welcomed refugees” to Canada as well as immigrants from all over the world and a whole lot of descendants of previous immigrants. We are all shocked at the current situation in the Middle East and have decided to do something as a Task Force within our Club. Our first Fund Raiser will be on January 30th 2016 and we welcome donations through the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge. We are proud to be associated with Ryerson as well as having many graduates and a representative of the teaching faculty in our membership.
Team Lead: Tom Stephens
Sometimes the world’s problems seem overwhelming. The level of violence, the scale of destruction and the desperation of those caught in the crossfire, has moved us all, but left us feeling powerless.
We are a group of citizens, hoping we can do something small to affect this situation. Salvus means “safe and sound” in latin.
Canada, with its’ exceptional tolerance and generosity is a model for the world. As someone once did for all of us, we want to welcome those who are looking for a better life, to this country of which we are so proud.
Adele Rezai has lived the life of a refugee. 30 years ago, she left Iran carrying in her arms nothing but her 3 year-old daughter, Azade Michelle ("Miche-E"). They lived 18 months in captivity until they were finally sponsored by the Canadian Government. Both Adele and her daughter grew personally, professionally and succeeded against all odds. Sadly, Azade Michelle a U of T student--died in a car accident over a decade ago. As an educator, alongside like-minded educators and colleagues, Adele is supporting a family as a tribute to her late refugee daughter, and to all refugee children who seek better lives of hope, peace and security.
Team Leads: Adele Rezai, Murray Smith, Sima Hosseinzadeh, Patrick Tran, Martha Gonya, and Negin Vatandoost
Friends of Music and Art (FoMA) is a group of musicians and music lovers, artists and art lovers, friends and family. We are responding to what we believe is the most significant refugee crisis of our time by pooling our resources to help a family in need. We recognize that our Canada is enriched by the people who emigrate here.
Montreal Sponsorship team is made up of a group of 20 friends united in their concern for the plight of refugees and the need for Canadian citizens to do their part in sponsoring refugees and supporting their integration into Canadian society. Our team includes parents of autistic children who wanted in particular to help a Syrian family with a special needs child.
We believe we have both a responsibility and the capacity to respond to this crisis. We aspire to settle 1000 Syrians in Cape Breton over the coming years.
We are currently working with groups around the Island to become sponsorship communities. There are groups formed in Sydney, North Sydney, Bedeck, Inverness County, Cheticamp, Arichat, Margaree, Louisbourg, Louisdale, and St. Ann’s. We are working with over 350 volunteers to prepare the Island to be
a welcoming home to Syrian families affected by the crisis.
After an initial fundraising campaign supporting UNHCR’s efforts targeting the Syrian refugee crisis, a group of us at CaseWare thought: should we not be doing more? Why couldn't we all join together and sponsor an entire family? As it turns out, we can.
By assembling the CaseWare Syrian Sponsorship Group, and working with the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge we want to raise funds to welcome an entire family to Canada. With your support, we can ensure that this family has a safe, stable and successful future here in our fine country.
We are a diverse group of immigrants in Mississauga and many of us have had to flee war and destruction, seeking refuge. We know all too well the despair of having to leave behind your loved ones and country of birth for an unknown future. Yet, we were the lucky ones to reach Canada and make it our new home. We are passionate about helping others in the same situation and we feel the need to act now. We are committed to sponsoring a Syrian family but we can’t do this alone, together we can help give hope to one family at a time.
We have come together to do this because the world is large, and our sphere of influence is small -- but not nonexistent. Because we can all make more of a difference than we realize, especially if we join forces. Because all of our families were immigrants, and some were refugees. Because we have the good fortune to be able to help. Because we hope for a world where people are not dying in open boats as they flee their homes or languishing for years in refugee camps and our hope for a better world remains empty unless we take action.
Team leaders: Laura Adams, Melissa Blackie, Antoine Goulem, Camille Soucie, Dalila Suhonjic, Jamie Zeppa
Coming face to face with the human cost of war can feel overwhelming. We want to help, but we don't always know how. This program offers us the opportunity to respond on a human level in a tangible way by helping to facilitate the journey of a family who made the courageous decision to resettle across the world. We understand that forced migration is not the best response to war and wish we could do more to diminish violence in the world, but in the absence of a global solution, we have committed to this simpler act.
Our core members are friends and family who have enjoyed rich personal lives and rewarding professional careers. We share high expectations for the years ahead. We have come together because we are stricken by the stories of Syrian families whose expectations have been brutally reduced to the modest goals of staying alive, finding physical safety, and securing enough peace to make a new start.
We intend to welcome and support a refugee family, empowering them to once again have hopes and dreams, changing their lives and ours as we share a land that has been good to us.
KPMG’s Care team are looking forward to meet the Syrian individuals we are sponsoring. As we embrace diversity in every aspect of our life and work, we are eager to make our new friends feel at home. We will act with utmost care to help in every way to help them start their new life feeling safe and secure.
Team Lead: Rob Brouwer, Nazir Valani & Mary Lou Maher
KPMG's Hope team is excited to welcome a Syrian family to Canada and help provide them with the support they need to thrive in our great Country! As we embrace diversity in every aspect of our lives, we are eager to help make these Syrian refugees feel at home. We Hope our support brings comfort to them in this trying time.
Team Leads: Elda Fares & Lian Zerafa
KPMG's Promise team hopes to provide care for the Syrian families who need it the most. As we embrace diversity in every aspect of our life and work, we are eager to make these Syrian families feel at home. We Promise to give everything we can so that they may start their new life feeling safe and secure.
Team Lead: Brad Watson & Bill Thomas
We are a group of strangers, colleagues, friends and family who have joined together with one singular pledge and that is to do what we can to help with the Syrian humanitarian crisis. We are very excited to be part of the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria challenge.
Team Leads: Dr. Jill Hamilton, Ed Burtynsky, Nicholas Metivier
Though members of our group come from different walks of life and are of different ages and backgrounds, we are united by certain shared principles. One is an instinctive commitment to the moral proposition that helping someone in dire need is a good in and of itself. As well, everyone in the group believes in the importance and effectiveness of collective action in overcoming difficulties and achieving objectives, especially large scale ones. Just as we hold that the collective provision of services such as education, health care and pensions enables society to function more effectively and humanely, so too do we feel that a collective response to the refugee crisis is the best way of solving it.