The University of Victoria History Department’s Refugee Campaign

Over the past few days the History Department at the University of Victoria has been circulating the following opportunity and challenge among historians in Canada. We have reprinted it here for the interest of our readers and as a great illustration of what we envision as Active History. 


Dear Fellow Historians,

No group can better appreciate the historical significance of the current refugee crisis in the Middle East and its implications than historians. We know that this is a crisis unprecedented in our lifetimes and of a proportion rarely seen in world history.

I am sure that many of you, like a group of us at UVic, watched the growing crisis over the past summer and fall with horror and a feeling of helplessness. Recently we decided that we did not have to sit idle as the crisis deepens, and we would like to invite you to join us.

As a group of faculty, staff and students in our History Department we decided to take on the responsibility to sponsor and host a Syrian refugee family. We would like to invite you to join us and, if you can, either 1) make a contribution towards our project or 2) consider organizing among your colleagues and communities to sponsor a refugee family or, 3) both!

Through this process we have learned that we are not really helpless — that we as individuals and as a group of historians can make a real difference in the lives of suffering people, today. Now. We have also learned that these acts of generosity are bringing us closer as a community of scholars.

We invite you to join us in sponsoring a refugee family. Please go to our website where you can learn more about this project and make a donation. Through the Intercultural Association we can offer tax receipts. We are working to raise $50,000 and are half-way there.

This week one of our emeritus faculty has offered to double new contributions up to a ceiling of $5,000 so your donation will mean twice as much.

Our website:

On Facebook:

We also have the option of a gift card which will allow you to make a donation in lieu of another kind of gift to a family member or friend who perhaps has less need of your support.

Should you wish to start a group to sponsor refugees or bring a group of your colleagues/students together to support this initiative, we would be very happy to share what we have learned about the process and how we have proceeded.

Please join us in making the new year a much brighter one for a desperate family, and then, hopefully, another and another. Together we can light a candle, and in time, a bonfire, against the darkness.

With thanks and best wishes…

John Lutz, chair
On behalf of the UVic Department of History

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