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UNB prepares to welcome Syrian refugees

Eddy Campbell called upon the university community to start working on ways UNB can support Syrian refugees. Campbell said the university will provide full support to Base Gagetown once refugees arrive.

New Brunswick will be hosting at least 1,500 Syrian refugees before the end of February. Many will be sent to urban centres in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton. At least 300 people will be arriving before Christmas.

Mayor Brad Woodside told CBC last week that Fredericton might expect at least 700 refugees by March.

The specific plan UNB is going to implement to help refugees will be announced once total numbers and dates of arrival are confirmed by the government.

As for now, the Gregg Centre for the study of War and Society is working along with the Fredericton multi-cultural association to address concerns of the public.

Cindy Brown, the communications manager and program coordination for the Gregg Centre said the information session will take place in the Town Hall.

According to Campbell’s plan of support, Residential Life will also be investigating possible housing options for refugees.

“We have not received any requests to house Syrian refugees on campus. This is certainly a possibility but no formal requests have been made,” said Dean Martin, director of residential life at UNB. 

Martin said that once they receive a formal request, they will do what they can to support the integration of refugees to the community.

“We will keep in mind that our priority is serving the UNB student population,” Martin said.

Grassroots donation drives have popped up across Fredericton and New Brunswick to further welcome the new arrivals.

Natasha Ashfield, communications officer for UNB, said there has been recruitment of faculty, staff and students who may be able to help with integration and translation for refugees. There is high demand for those who can speak Arabic or Kurdish in order to assist any new Syrian student that may be attending UNB.

Some universities and private colleges have offered prospective Syrian refugees full academic scholarships. UNB has yet to commit to financial aid for refugees, but Ashfield said that it’s something the university has been considering.

“If there were refugees interested in attending university once they arrived, we would certainly investigate ways to support them financially,” Ashfield said.

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