St. Paul’s welcomes refugee student from Congo

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Among the many new students who started classes at UWaterloo this fall is Leonard Honore, a refugee student from the Democratic Republic of Congo who is living at St. Paul’s. He is being sponsored through the University of Waterloo’s and World University Services of Canada’s (WUSC) Student Refugee Program.

All Waterloo students contribute to the program through a dollar-per-term levy administered by the Federation of Students. St. Paul's students also help cover the sponsored students' accommodation and meals through a volunteer student levy. 

The Student Refugee Program was initiated by WUSC in 1978 and is active on over 65 university and college campuses across Canada. The program has sponsored more than 1,500 refugees from 37 countries to complete their studies and become Canadian citizens. It is the only one of its kind to combine resettlement with higher education and student-to-student support.

Here at UWaterloo, St. Paul’s was the first partner to offer housing and resources when WUSC was forming on campus. Since 2006, the University has sponsored 11 students. Waterloo International and the other Colleges are important sponsors of the program, providing residence, meals, academic and social programs, and community life for the students who live in residence for up to six terms. St. Paul’s also provides a resource staff member to assist the students.

To win sponsorship, students must have official refugee status and be academically eligible for admission to Waterloo. Once they arrive in Canada, the federal government grants them permanent resident status and they are eligible for Canadian citizenship within three years.

The competition to get sponsorship for the Student Refugee Program is stiff. Leonard was not successful in his first two attempts, but his volunteer work at his refugee camp’s high school and adult education centre – along with his grades – helped him eventually achieve his goal.

For now, he is completing two terms in the Bridge to Academic success program at Renison College and will then proceed to full-time study in Arts. The other new refugee student at UWaterloo this year is Liban Farah, who is staying at Conrad Grebel and is studying Applied Health Sciences.

For more information about the Student Refugee Program, contact Gráinne Ryder, Student Refugee Program Staff Advisor, St. Paul’s University College,, 519-885-1460, ext. 25201.

Members of the local WUSC committee and the 2 students

Members of the local WUSC committee with Leonard (bottom row, far right) and Liban (top row, far left).

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