After the tragic events in Paris and the Middle East earlier this month, the international responses that followed were both heartening and disturbing, as some sought to use these extremist attacks to express racist viewpoints that unfairly targeted people fleeing war-torn nations. These views cannot stand alongside the values that inform our inclusive, multicultural nation, but at the same time, we must recognize that they exist. Without light, there is no understanding.
Irfan Chaudhry, one of our PhD students in Sociology, has been tracking incidents of online racism with his project YegHateCrimes. His research is shedding light on this newest, and largely anonymous, forum for racism – social media. In an effort to gain some understanding of the proliferation of anti-refugee sentiment, we reached out to Irfan for his thoughts on the subject. In a piece he wrote for WOA Blog, Irfan concluded that we must work collectively to show that this type of hateful behaviour is not welcome in Canada.
As Canada prepares to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees, many of whom will be coming to Edmonton, I cannot help but reflect on what it means to be Canadian — and how most of us are, ultimately, immigrants. The University of Alberta has taken steps to welcome refugee students to our campus, offering the President’s Award for Refugees and Displaced Persons Fund. This fund will cover the cost of tuition and living expenses for up to 10 undergraduate or graduate Syrian students, admitted to the U of A as early as January 2016. We know that education changes lives, and donations to this fund are an investment in a better future not only for them, but for all of us.
In the Faculty of Arts, we are a community, but that could also be said of our entire nation. And as a community – in all its complexity – we must strive to ensure that our doors remain open and welcoming.
Acting Dean of Arts