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Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge

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Message from the President
Team Leads
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Message from the President

Meric Gertler

We have watched news of the Syrian refugee crisis with overwhelming distress, sorrow, and frustration. As in other parts of the world, local communities across our country and our city are joining an urgent, global response to the tragedy, profoundly demonstrating that empathy and kinship know no political or geographic bounds. I am proud to be part of one such community.

To this end, the University of Toronto is expanding our Scholars-at-Risk program with a new bursary for students at risk. We believe these bursaries will play a powerful role in helping these students and their families rebuild their lives.

We are also joining Ryerson University's Lifeline Syria initiative in partnership with York University and OCAD University for those wishing to sponsor families to Canada.

Meric Gertler
President, University of Toronto

Read the full statement.

Team Leads

Thirty years ago, Vinitha and her family came to Canada from Sri Lanka through the family class sponsorship when Sri Lanka was in the midst of a civil war. At the age of 10, she was uprooted to a country where she didn’t know the language and had limited support and resources when they first arrived. She knows firsthand what it is like to settle and start over in a new country and has a deep appreciation and gratitude to those who helped and supported her success.

She sees this initiative as one of the ways for her to ‘pay it forward’ to others.

Team Lead: Vinitha Gengatharan

We are a group of individuals who were moved by the images of the tremendous challenges facing Syrian refugees and decided to take action. Coming from diverse backgrounds, most of us didn’t know each other beforehand but very quickly we have come together as determined teammates ready to make a difference for a refugee family.

Some of us have stories of refugee experiences in our families, some of us are parents, and all of us are motivated by a deeply Canadian value: refugees welcome.

We can all contribute to the global community’s efforts to help Syrian refugees, and you can help right here in Toronto. Help Bloorcourt Sponsors reach our ambitious goal of raising $50,000 to bring a refugee family out of danger and into a welcoming community in Toronto.

We are a parent-led group affiliated with the Jackman Institute for Child Study. Many of us have refugee stories in our own families. All of us share a sense of responsibility to help others—and a desire to instill this value in our children. We're grateful that there is infrastructure and support in place to help Syrian refugees right now in a direct and tangible way.

A group of friends who met through the U of T Masters Track Club have joined together to sponsor a Syrian Refugee Family of five. The founding group includes U of T Alumni and Hall of Fame Athlete Kate Cochrane-Brink and former Chief Economist of Ontario, Patrick Deutscher who graduated with a doctorate in economics from U of T.

We have personal stories to tell of how our understanding of the importance of responding to this dire crisis has been deepened and why we are motivated to act. At essence our hearts and minds have been touched by the unthinkable hardships of Syrian refugees and gratitude for our good life here in Canada.

In addition to financial support, our team is committed to being the extended family for our new Syrian friends in Toronto. Your help is needed!

Contact person/info:

Choir! Choir! Choir! is a passionate and tight-knit group that sings pop songs in three-part harmony every week and has performed at some of Toronto's biggest venues and festivals. There are no auditions, so new members can join anytime. Our unique approach has created a vibrant community that spans age groups, neighbourhoods, and social circles. Choir! has shown us that amazing things can happen when people come together. That's why we're working to welcome a Syrian refugee family to our community. Our fundraising is well underway, but we need your help in reaching our $27,000 goal to bring a family safely to Toronto. To hear our songs and see our fundraising initiatives, please visit

The humanitarian crisis in Syria has emphasized the critical role and responsibility we all share as part of the global community. At Trinity College, we have a long-standing tradition of leadership, international engagement and caring for those in need. We are committed to sponsoring at least one Syrian refugee family's transition and successful resettlement to Canada. Please join us in supporting the Lifeline Syria Challenge – collectively, we can make a difference.

Team Leads: Chancellor William C. Graham, Provost Mayo Moran & Chaplain Andrea Budgey, Trinity College

Our diverse group was formed through our common goal of wanting to respond to the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of people in the world. We are proud to include many University of Toronto alumnae, as well as group members who through personal experiences, understand the challenges newcomers to Canada experience. We are inspired by the overwhelming support demonstrated by our community, and have ourselves committed to helping a family in need. Drawing on our many strengths, we know we have what it takes to welcome a Syrian family to Canada. We hope that they will love our beautiful country as much as we do. We are endlessly grateful for your support.

​​​​We believe that the biggest difference between us and the family we hope to help is luck. By a stroke of luck, we were born in Canada, and not into a desperate situation. We are a group of concerned Toronto families who are determined to try to redistribute that luck by welcoming a Syrian refugee family to our city and our lives. Many of us have young children. We see this as a way to lead by example and create a powerful lesson about social responsibility for the next generation.

Marhaba means “welcome” in Arabic, and this is what we want to offer to a Syrian family settling in Toronto. We are a diverse group connected by friendship and professional ties, including English second language educators, artists, lawyers, academics, nurses, information technology specialists and scientists. For one year, we will be responsible for providing financial and on-the-ground support. We may not be able to stop the conflict in Syria, but we can do our best to assist a family in starting a new life in Canada and renewing hope for their children.

In response to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, the Massey College community has come together, alongside a growing number of other groups in Canada, to help assist with providing resettlement opportunities for refugees. Our group spans all levels of the broader Massey community, including staff, Junior Fellows, Journalism Fellows, Senior Fellows, members of the Quadrangle Society, and Alumni of the College.

Images of an exodus of millions of people being herded like cattle or the countless reports of boats of refugees capsizing in the Mediterranean Sea are hard to ignore. These pictures capture the despair of families caught in a war zone. We are a group of friends from diverse backgrounds who support and welcome those from war zones. We wish to provide the community support and sponsorship needed to build a life as our grandparents and parents had done themselves before, to learn to call Canada 'home'.

We are a group of Toronto residents, deeply concerned over the humanitarian impacts of the war in Syria. Some of us are young professionals. Some of us are retired. Some of us have worked abroad, some directly with refugees. Each of us is motivated to use our collective resources to extend a hand of friendship to help a family as they make a new life here in Canada and to welcome them to our city. Ahlan w sahlan fi Toronto means “Welcome to Toronto” in Arabic. We thank everyone for their help to raise $40,000.

We all watched in horror as the Syrian refugee crisis began to unfold, and it continues to this day. The coverage brought our attention to an important issue and catalyzed our call to action. Call Canada Home is a mission-driven group composed of people with diverse backgrounds and expertise determined to make a difference. We have come together for a common goal: to bring a Syrian family to safety in Toronto and support the transition into their new home in Canada.

We are a group of UofT alumni, along with friends and family, that are deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria. As parents, grandparents and recent immigrants that have travelled widely, we recognize how fortunate we are to raise our families in Canada.

Like you, we want to play our part in building a just, equitable and peaceful world. That is why we are committed to sponsoring a refugee family and helping them to build a new life in Canada. Together we can make a difference!

The conflict in Syria has created a humanitarian crisis. As kind, caring and compassionate people, we feel an obligation to mount a substantial response. At the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, we believe no field touches the human experience more than public health. With a dedicated team made up of current and former faculty, staff, students and alumni, the School has come together to welcome a family of Syrian refugees to Canada and support them to build new lives. We are raising funds to meet our financial target of $50,000 for the family. Your financial contributions are deeply appreciated. ​For more information please visit the DLSPH team website or contact Julie Foisy:

We are a group of 30 retired professors, librarians, partners and Geography and Planning students at the University of Toronto. We represent a wide range of teaching and administrative fields at the University and have long been concerned by the plight of refugees everywhere. The recent Syrian crisis has motivated us to turn this concern into action and do something practical to help. Some of our group have been refugees themselves; some have housed refugees from earlier periods; others have studied refugee problems in one context or another and others, having experience and expertise in various organizations, believe they can bring their talents to bear on refugee settlement issues in the Toronto area.

Team Lead: Joe Whitney

We are a group of neighbours and friends who share a common concern for the refugee crisis which has unfolded in Syria. As Canadians, most of us don't have to look too far back in our history to find our own family's immigration stories and we recognize how incredibly fortunate we are to live in a country as wonderful and welcoming as Canada. While many of us knew each other only slightly or even not at all before we came together, what we share is a strong desire to help others less fortunate than ourselves who have found themselves torn from their country and without a place to live. We look forward to helping at least one family move to a better future. Thank you for supporting our endeavour.

Baby Point Helps is a group of neighbours in the Baby Point area of Toronto working together to support the settlement of a refugee family in Canada. Having the good fortune of raising our own families in a safe and fulfilling environment, we recognize our responsibility to share that with other less fortunate. The refugee families of Syria are facing unimaginable obstacles to provide their children any semblance of such an environment. We hope to be able to assist, and would very much appreciate any donations (in cash or kind) to aid our efforts.

Team Lead: Katherine Rawlinson

We are a group of friends and family who live in Lorne Park, Mississauga (and throughout the GTA) and have come together to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to settle in the GTA. We have already sponsored one family of 5 who is already settled and a second is in the process. Our goal is to raise a minimum of $60,000 to sponsor two families of four people who have family already settled in the GTA.

Team Lead: Mona El-Shayal

We formed in September of 2015, committed to sponsoring a refugee family and determined to be part of something larger than ourselves. In February 2016, a Syrian family of four arrived in Toronto and have now become a part of the fabric of our daily lives. But our work is not finished. The family had to abandon their extended family. Your donation will help unify a family divided by war and poverty.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the University of Toronto's Lifeline Syria Challenge, please contact Vinitha Gengatharan at

Trinity College in the University of Toronto Liaison: Please contact Jonathan Steels, Assistant Provost at