As the Syrian refugee crisis unfolds, Algonquin College has decided to join the humanitarian effort by fully funding the tuition of up to 10 refugees, according to President Jensen in an announcement made Sept. 22.
The emergency fund that Algonquin has announced takes the form of a $50,000 commitment to support refugees who apply and are accepted into the college.
“Of course anyone feels absolutely horrified by all the loss of human life and the situation that these poor people find themselves in,” President Jensen said in an interview with the Times on Sept. 17.
Jensen explained that she’s been discussing strategies with her staff about Algonquin’s role and is pleased to know that she has a caring community at the school to back her up.
“We immediately started talking about what this crisis means for Algonquin,” she said.
This includes being in touch with Mayor Jim Watson, who has been a vocal supporter of welcoming Syrian and other refugees to Ottawa.
“We were on the phone last night and I was very glad because I want to make sure we don’t all do the same thing,” said Jensen. “It should be a coordinated effort in the city of Ottawa.”
To solidify their collaboration, Algonquin has announced its intention to participate in Watson’s Oct. 1 information session on the topic, according to the college’s press release.
In addition to gaining Watson’s support, Jensen asked the provincial government about the number of refugees Ontario could welcome. She also asked if there was a way to bridge programs at Algonquin to make it more accessible to earn Canadian credentials for people coming into the country.
She succeeded in discussing possible responses to the crisis, where one of the options included bringing in refugees to study at the campus.
And whether they become full or part-time students, the fund proposed by the college could support the refugees admitted within the next year.
“There are entire families that we hope are coming to Canada,” Jensen continued. “Children that could be going to elementary schools and high schools, families that could have very well educated parents who will be looking for employment.”
“As the major college of Ottawa, I will say that we will work with any elected government to make sure that any refugees that come into the country and our city will be well taken care of at Algonquin.”