Celebrating 40 years of WUSC-UBC

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Hillel House

6145 Student Union Blvd, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1

Vancouver, B.C V6T 1Z1


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Join us for CELEBRATING WUSC-UBC/SRP@40 scheduled on Thursday, March 15th, 4-8pm! This event will bring the WUSC and UBC Vancouver community together to celebrate and strengthen the connections between WUSC and the UBC community. Through this event, the success of Student Refugee Program (SRP) will be showcased through the stories of WUSC-UBC alumni. The event will begin with a powerful speech by Veronica Fynn, a successful scholar, and a WUSC UBC Alumni. UBC VP Student, Dr. Louise Cowin will present on UBC’s current and future role in supporting the SRP. The attendees will get a chance to network with the WUSC community members while enjoying a buffet meal together.

The event will also include a panel discussion consisting of seven members; two WUSC alumni (Abdifatah Dahir and Mustafa), two current WUSC students (Rhoda Philip and Ely Bahhadi), UBC Faculty member (Dr. Glens Peterson), AMS VP Academic and University Affairs (Max Holmes) and the first WUSC-UBC Local Committee Chair at UBC (Chris Friesen). The panel aims to create discussion on the role of WUSC and UBC in relation to the current events concerning the status of refugees around the world. Through this panel, the guests will learn more about the role of education in supporting refugees and WUSC’s commitment through Canadian universities and colleges to creating a better world for youth. The event will conclude with Vancouver Quadra MP at Canadian Parliament, Joyce Murray, who will shed light on the importance of creating educational opportunities for immigrants and refugees as the global refugee crisis continues and what we can do as community, and as a country to better help refugees.

We will walk to the Nest building after the event to continue the discussion - drinks and refreshments will be available at the Nest!

Schedule of Events

4:00 - Arrival

4:30 - The history of WUSC at UBC

4:40 - Words from AMS Representative

4:50 - Keynote Speaker, Veronica Flynn

5:30 - Dinner!

6:15 - Panel Discussion

7:15 - Remarks from VP Students, Dr. Louise Cowin

7:30 - Closing statement from WUSC UBC Local Committee President

8:30 - Reception at the Nest

Panelist Profiles

Ely Bahhadi

A newly arrived student/refugee to Canada through SRP-WUSC, Ely has a multicultural background. From an Armenian mother, and a Syriac father, Ely was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, and had to move to Lebanon due to the escalating crisis in his hometown. Ely is committed to helping others and has been heavily involved in several NGO’s and other organizations. Ely graduated with a degree in Political Science from Haigazian University, and is planning to study journalism at UBC. He won several awards in Lebanon based on his activism and volunteering work, such as the 2015 UN International Anti-Corruption award, Haigazian University Presidential award, Scout Leadership Contribution award, and several university related awards.

Dr. Glen Peterson

Dr. Glen Peterson is a history professor at the University of British Columbia. He is a social and cultural historian focusing on modern China and China’s role in forced migration. He has played an integral role in advocating for WUSC UBC since the early 1990s. He has written five books and has published many articles and book chapters on topics including Education, refugees, WUSC and China.

Rhoda Philip

Rhoda moved to Canada in 2013 from Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya to study at the University of British Columbia, thanks to the World University Services of Canada- Student Refugee Program(WUSC-SRP). Her experiences from being raised in a refugee camp taught her the value of resilience, adaptability, and compassion. She believes that when tragedy befalls human beings, and instill a feeling of victimhood, it can be challenging to overcome. Her passion lies in supporting people who have been through difficult life experiences. She champions education for refugee children, and is a founding member of an education initiative called Sponsor a Child Education (SCE). Despite her being a full-time student, Rhoda has been passionately involved in student Peer Programs as a Sauder Orientation leader, Academic Success Coach, WUSC-SRP Global Representative, and numerous community initiatives. She envisions a world where everyone feels valuable.

Rhoda is a 5th year student of Business Technology Management with Co-op distinction in the BCOM undergraduate program, Tedx Terry Speaker, Director and Founding member of Sponsor a Child Education, and aspiring Data Analyst.

Abdifatah Ahmed Dahir

Abdifatah Ahmed Dahir mostly call Abdi or Abdul by his friends was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in the early 1980s. He grew up in a refugee camp in Botswana from the age of 16-23 years and came to Canada in 2006 through the WUSC-UBC SRP program to study at UBC and resettled to Canada. After working in the social services industry for several years helping new Canadians and long-term residents, Abdul find his long lasting employment after receiving training and he transitioned to helping Canadians in a different capacity by joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2015. Abdul have been posted to Surrey, BC for the last two years.

Max Holmes

Max Holmes currently serves as the AMS Vice-President Academic and University Affairs, and UBC Vancouver Student Senator. Max is an advocate for advanced education issues for over 54,000 UBC undergraduate and graduate students to the University. His work ranges from promoting open educational resources, working with the university to create solutions for more affordable student housing, to proposing and amending university academic and non-academic policies. Max is also a second year Arts student at UBC.

Chris Friesen

Chris Friesen is a recognized advocate and voice within the refugee and immigrant settlement sector and is a sought-after speaker, media resource person and research collaborator on immigration-related policies and programs.

As settlement services director at ISSofBC for over 25 years, Chris has been at the forefront of major immigration and refugee resettlement initiatives in BC and Canada in recent history, including the unprecedented resettlement operation involving Syrian refugees in 2015-2016. Chris also played a key role in the development and construction of the ISSofBC Welcome Centre.

Chris currently serves as chair and founding member of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance (CISSA-ACSEI), and is co-chair with IRCC of the National Settlement Council. In 2013, he co-chaired the UNHCR Annual Consultation on Refugee Resettlement in Geneva, Switzerland as the NGO focal point.

As an undergraduate student at UBC in the mid 1980’s, Chris led a successful referendum on campus to increase student fees to establish a permanent student refugee scholarship program. What started as a one-off initiative has rippled through over 60 post-secondary institutions across Canada through the World University Service of Canada (WUSC)​ Student Refugee Program.

Mustafa Ahmed

Mustafa Ahmed was born in Somalia but grew up in Dadaab Refugee Camps, Kenya - the world’s largest refugee camp. He attended both primary and secondary education in the camps. Prompted by limited educational opportunities, he came to Canada in 2007 as a sponsored refugee student on a World University Services Canada scholarship – making him the first student from Dadaab to move from camp to UBC campus. In the camps, he worked for UN aid agencies in a number of roles including as a high school math teacher.

He graduated from UBC in 2012 with Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Systems, a multi-disciplinary undergraduate program involving four departments: Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology. He is currently pursuing a graduate professional certificate on public policy and administration at UVIC.

Using his 19 years of life experience as a refugee in protracted camps, in 2012 he started working for DIVERSEcity as counsellor for the Moving Ahead Program serving Somali speaking clients in the Surrey, North Delta and Langley areas. Seeing the impact of the program, he collaborated with Fraser Health to design and facilitate the Providing Care for Refugee and Newcomer Training workshop to assist healthcare professionals provide quality care to newcomer populations.

In 2016 he joined Fraser Health’s Ethics and Diversity Services department as a Coordinator of Language Services. Fraser Health serves the most linguistically diverse population in the province with the highest user of Interpreter Services.

In Dec 2017, Mustafa was promoted to Leader, Diversity Services for Fraser Health. Mustafa is responsible for increasing capacity within Fraser Health staff, teams, and the organization to respond to diversity and health equity-related issues in healthcare in order to decrease diversity-related inequities within the system.

In his spare time, he sits on a number of advisory boards supporting organisations provide programming and services for vulnerable populations. He loves watching and supporting Manchester united play football, the real one!

Speaker Profiles

Veronica Fynn Bruey is an award-winning scholar with an extensive interdisciplinary educational background. She has two bachelors, two masters, an LLB and currently completing her PhD at the Australian National University. A global researcher, Fynn Bruey has over 14 years of teaching, researching, consulting and speaking at international conferences across four continents in at least 22 countries. She has published two books, ten book chapters, 19 journal articles, book reviews, editorials and reports. She founded Africa Awareness at the University of British Columbia in 2002. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Internal Displacement, the only scholastic platform dedicated to global displacement concerns; the Founder of the Law and Society's Collaborative Research Network called "Displaced Peoples," which comprises 11 international collaborators and 43 academic experts; Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tuki-Tumarankeh, a non-profit focused on forced migration issues; the Director of Flowers School of Global Health Sciences; and a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy in Liberia, the only policy think-tank in Liberia. She sits on the Board of the Public Health Association of British Columbia and the World Computer Exchange, Canada branch. She currently teaches at Seattle University School of Law as an Adjunct Professor. Fynn Bruey is a born and bred Liberian war survivor.

Dr. Louise Cowin was re-appointed to a second five year-term as UBC’s Vice-President, Students in 2016, with continued leadership responsibility for shaping the student experience and broad learning environment. Her portfolio includes Student Development & Services, Student Housing & Hospitality Services, University Community Services, and Athletics and Recreation. Prior to joining UBC, Louise worked at three other Universities in Canada – she was the Warden of Hart House at the University of Toronto, an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University, and an Assistant Professor of Outdoor and Experiential Education at Queen’s University. Louise came to Canada as an International M.Sc. student in 1986, and subsequently received her Ph.D. from McGill University in 1999.

Joyce Murray is the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra and Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board. Ms. Murray was first elected to Parliament in 2008. She has served on Standing Committees on Trade, Health, Fisheries and Oceans, Environment and Sustainable Development, and Defence.

From 2011 to 2015 Ms. Murray chaired the Liberal Northern and Western Caucus, and co-chaired her party’s weekly Policy and Platform Caucus in Ottawa. Her legislative work includes presenting a Bill banning crude oil tanker traffic from BC’s North Coast; and a Bill to ‎increase accountability and transparency of Canada’s Communication Security Establishment (CSE) and other security and intelligence agencies.

Before entering federal politics Ms. Murray was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, serving as a cabinet minister in the BC Liberal government from 2001 to 2005.‎ Her political career followed 25 years spent building an international reforestation company she co-founded that has planted over one billion trees. Her interest in environmental sustainability was expressed in her thesis on climate change policy, which contributed to the SFU Deans Medal she was awarded for top MBA graduate of 1992. Click on the following link to read her thesis titled: Global Warming – Policy Analysis and Proposal for a Carbon Sink Silviculture Program”.

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Hillel House

6145 Student Union Blvd, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1

Vancouver, B.C V6T 1Z1


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