UVic auction event supports refugees

Public forums in the new year will explore the refugee crisis and the Canadian and European response to it

Theresa Gallant

Theresa Gallant

The University of Victoria History Department invites the community to enjoy an evening of appies and holiday shopping Dec. 9 and in the process, help support a Syrian refugee family on its way to Canada.

The History Refugee Committee hosts a live and silent auction Dec. 9 in the UVic Student Union Building, a way to continue toward the $50,000 needed to needed to help resettle the family of five in Canada in the coming year.

“The immediate impetus was the same for us as it was for so many others,” says history professor Elizabeth Vibert, pointing to the poignant image of the young boy drowned, alongside his mother and siblings, while trying to flee the violence in Syria.

However the Syrian refugee situation is also reflective of a mounting global refugee crisis, notes Vibert, who specializes in colonial history and in particular southern Africa. “We decided we want to do something.”

What started as a faculty project, working through the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, quickly expanded to include students, staff and others, both inside and outside the department.

The group is sponsoring a Syrian family that fled to Turkey two years ago, a professional couple and their three children. “They have been waiting a long time to restart their lives and the lives of their three children,” Vibert says.

While transitioning to a new community can be challenging, a friend living here already is helping, so “they have some community when they arrive, which really helps.”

At more than $25,000, the group is just over half-way to their fundraising goal and the committee recently received word that an anonymous donor has offered matching funds for donations received now, Vibert says.

Beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, the auction features a wide array of seasonal gifts, including a Whistler ski weekend, Harbour Air tickets, custom-made Cowichan sweater, wines, jewellery, restaurants, baskets and more, plus appetizers and a cash bar.

Also available will be Donor Gift Cards, allowing purchasers to donate a minimum of $25 to the cause in someone’s name and in turn receive a charitable tax receipt. Cards are available at the auction or from the history office (histao@uvic.ca).

In connecting with a refugee family to sponsor, “we focused on a family because we have lots of members in our group who have small children,” Vibert says. She points out, however, that while much international focus has been directed at women and children, single men are also in need of sponsorship, including those who have been separated from their families by the crisis.

Further, “the moment these folks land here, they are Canadian permanent residents; they’re not refugees anymore,” Vibert adds.

Because education is a natural fit for the department, the committee also continues its series of public forums on the history and current contours of the refugee crisis, and the European and Canadian responses. Following two standing-room-only forums held in September, two more are scheduled for early in the new year, featuring professors Andrew Wender, Oliver Schmidtke, Martin Bunton and others.

“It’s alarming to me the level of misinformation that’s floating around in the public,” Vibert says, including the suggestion that countries in the Middle East region aren’t doing their part. Vibert notes that one-quarter of Lebanon’s current population is Syrian refugees, and two million Syrians are currently making their home in Turkey.

Following last month’s Paris attacks, people also postulated that the terrorists had crossed borders with the refugees, which has been disproved, she says, adding that refugees are actually the most strictly reviewed class of immigrants.

“People need to really be aware of how much new immigrants bring to this country,” Vibert says.

For more information about the fundraising auction, the coming public forums, and general information about the refugee crisis – including a reading list for those wanting more information – visit historyrefugee.org.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich repeals, reschedules two public hearings for consideration of new information

Move to hold public hearings for second time ‘very rare,’ mayor says

(File - Sooke News Mirror)
Man exposes himself to woman, children on Sooke trail

Suspect believed to be between 55 and 65 years of age

Forty-two residential properties in Oak Bay were assessed the speculation and vacancy tax in 2019 for a total of $693,000. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
74 Oak Bay property owners paid $693,000 in spec tax

42 properties were assessed with the SVT in 2019

Patrick MacMullan won $28,000 playing Toto. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Greater Victoria man wins $28,000 while watching football

Winning ticket purchased at Colwood convenience store

Victoria police are looking for missing woman Dana Frazer, 54, who is driving a blue 2016 Nissan Frontier pickup truck. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
UPDATED: High-risk, missing woman located by Victoria police

VicPD issued a missing alert for Dana Frazer on Jan. 15

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

The District reopened access to the Sooke Potholes on Friday. (Contributed - Ashley Ensor)
Sooke Potholes reopen after storm

The park was closed on Wednesday after down power lines

Nursing staff at West Coast General Hospital celebrate the announcement of a $6.25-million expansion of the emergency department that will start in March 2021. (File photo)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read