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Runners & Their Communities Welcome Refugees

U of T, Ryerson, York & OCAD Lifeline Syria Challenge

We are passionate about being compassionate! At essence our hearts and minds have been touched by the unthinkable hardships of Syrian refugees and gratitude for our good life here in Canada. We have personal stories to tell of how our understanding of the importance of responding to this dire crisis has been deepened and why we are motivated to act.

In addition to financial support, our team is committed to reaching out to our communities to be the extended family our new Syrian friends in Toronto. Your help is needed!

“Some years ago good friends came to Canada as refugees. Their worldly possessions were contained in 2 suitcases. All they had was hope and a willingness to do whatever was needed to rebuild their lives in Canada.

Soon enough a new baby arrived. A son who would never know oppression, never worry for his safety, fear his government, or be concerned that his views were not officially correct. Nor will his children.

I was fortunate to be able to play a small role. I can think of no
greater gift to offer than a new life in Canada. This is why I am involved.”

Duncan Greenshields 

READ   “Beacon of Hope”   by Duncan Greenshields

“Like many Canadians, the magnitude of, and reasons for the plight of Syrian refugees defies my sense of reality. Conflicting emotions of disbelief, disillusion, denial and despair are evoked in hearing of this unthinkable hell-on-earth. One dreads or avoids reading the news or turning on the television in trying to process this overwhelming sea of anguish.

But it is heartening to see that we Canadians are overcoming paralyzing fears and emotions and remembering “who we are”. That is, the Canada that welcomed an unprecedented number of Vietnamese boat people to our country. An act for which Canada was awarded the UNHCR’s Nansen medal. Canada is the only nation to have received this humanitarian award which normally is given to individuals or organizations.

Through our son’s many Vietnamese friends we have become aware of the painful details of family journeys on the “refugee highway”. Last year my husband and I attended two weddings within this community. Knowing what the grandparents and parents in attendance at the weddings have gone through, I was struck by how profound their joy must be to have endured so much yet live to see their children educated and begin married life in a conditions so much better than those they experienced through their younger adulthood.

I have no doubt that the actions we take today to provide a lifeline to the desperate will result in a future filled with more happy endings and this same deep and profound joy.”

Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

“It is incredibly hard to watch the images and read the stories as this humanitarian crisis unfolds. The Canada I want to live in doesn’t embody unfounded fears and intolerance but offers compassion and protection to those who need it most. Let us open our hearts and our country to the vulnerable and displaced; let us show them that Canada is a country that embraces diversity; let us spread love and hope. Because that is the Canada that I do want to be a part of.”

Lucia Mahoney

“Many years ago I worked at Parkdale Community Legal Services in immigration and refugee law. My first refugee client was a young Kurdish man who had made his own long trip to come to Canada, fleeing violence. While I cannot remember his name now, I can remember his determination and resilience. I remain deeply moved by refugee crises around the world, troubled by the conditions that produce them, and heartened by small communities and groups willing to help.”
 Annie Bunting

“Compassion is a noun!

The dictionary defines compassion as ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes’ of others. I define compassion in action. I was born in Azores, Portugal, and became a Canadian citizen in 1978! My family and I were fortunate to have extended family in Canada when we arrived, to support us, offer us a place to live and help us transition to a new life. For this my family was very grateful.

I appreciate the power of having a network be it family or community. As a member of the University of Toronto Masters Track group since its inception in 2009, I enjoy organizing club social events which help build team camaraderie and community.”

Rita Botelho (UTTC Master Social Coordinator)

Being born in Canada is said to be like winning the lottery of life.

We have our problems and conflicts and inequities but on a world scale we have a lot to be thankful for:  democracy, an enviable standard of living with good health care, good education, freedom of religion and expression, safety and security.

Canada has achieved all this while being an open and welcoming country.  We have, for the most part, been built as a country of immigrants.  That needs to continue.

Right now the conflict in Syria with the millions displaced by the brutal civil war and the terror of ISIS seems to me to be the most pressing problem facing the world.  Canada and Canadians need to do their part in big and small ways.  Joining with friends to help one family escape and settle in Canada is something I can do.”

Patrick Deutscher

“It is easy to feel like the world’s problems – including humanitarian crises – are intractable.  One can sink into a state of helplessness and hopelessness. The scope of the current refugee crisis in Syria is staggering. Yet, this is a situation where in fact as a Canadian, much can be done. I am involved in this initiative because it is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some incredibly unfortunate and imperiled people. It sure beats looking away or trying to put the very real suffering of so many out of your mind.  And as my twelve-year old son pointed out, ‘a Syrian life should matter as much as a Canadian one’. It’s so obvious. He also asked if he would be able to take a ‘selfie’ with our new family when they arrive, to which I answered, ‘sure honey, if they are okay with it’. I think what he intuitively understands is that we, as individuals and Canadians collectively, stand to gain enormously from welcoming Syrian refugees into our country. I can’t wait for the next step.”

Kate Cochrane-Brink


Dovercourt College Area Residents Association (DCARA)

Contact Coordinator Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi