First year students partner with Immigrant Support Services of BC to support refugees

A group of first-year students at UBC have started the One for One Movement on campus, supporting Syrian refugees by raising money for the Immigrant Services Society of BC. 

The group’s name comes from their strategy of asking all students for a one dollar donation each with the intention of having all the money add up to make a change.

“That was the reason for calling it One for One,” said Adil Engineer, a first-year arts student involved in starting the project. “For each student, even if they only donate one dollar, that’s $50,000.”

“We know that as students … sometimes all you can donate is one dollar,” added Sofia Santamaria, a first-year arts student also involved in starting the project. In addition to asking for donations at the start of lectures, the group recently hosted a soccer tournament.

So far, they have raised over $1,400 for the Immigrant Services Society (ISS), a group which — due to Trudeau’s commitment to resettle 25,000 government assisted refugees, as opposed to the 5,790 that arrived in 2013 — is greatly in need of that help.

“We’ve received over 2,000 government assisted Syrian refugees since November,” said Chris Stephenson, the communications director and departmental coordinator for language and career services at the ISS. “Usually, we receive 800 to 900 refugees per year.”

The money raised by the One for One Movement is specifically going towards opening the ISSofBC Welcome Centre, which will be a “one stop shop” servicing refugees who have relocated to Vancouver. The centre is opening this spring and will offer up to 138 beds, a primary health care clinic, classrooms for learning English, multilingual support staff and services for refugee families with children.

In addition to the One for One Movement, many other campus groups have initiated campaigns focused on the Syrian refugee crisis. UBC Refugee Relief, alongside other student groups on campus, is fundraising to privately sponsor Syrian refugees through various events such as a gala in partnership with Oxfam UBC.

After supporting this project, the One for One Movement is hoping to continue their work by raising one dollar per student for other charities.

“We are called the One for One Movement, so it’s not specific. It’s just one dollar per person,” said Izabela Daguila, another first-year student involved with the project. “If there’s another topic we’d like to address, we can change the name of the campaign we’re dealing with and raise money for that as well.”