Tag Archives: war

Niagara College Goes The Distance To Help Students Impacted By War In Ukraine

Director, International Gary Torraville holds up his message for a display at the Welland Campus filled with notes of support for the people of Ukraine. Dedicated message boards under a banner “Niagara College hearts are with the people of Ukraine” have been filling up at both campuses since early March./Niagara College photo.

The college is a “home away from home” for many international students

They have travelled across the world to study at Niagara College, now the College is going an extra mile for them.

NC is assisting international students impacted by the war in Ukraine with a range of supports – both financial and emotional – to help them through this challenging time. Whether they need financial assistance to help cover expenses, or emotional support as they struggle with anxiety over the safety of their loved ones in a war zone, Niagara College is demonstrating that they may be far away from home, but they are not alone.

Global Emergency Relief Fund

International students who face financial challenges due to world issues that arise in their home countries or here in Canada – from war and economic crisis to the pandemic – can turn to NC’s Global Emergency Relief fund.

The fund was established in 2020 to provide financial assistance to students during the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, the College sought to expand the fund to assist Ukrainian and Russian students impacted by the war in Ukraine. The fund provides students with scholarships and bursaries to help cover tuition or living expenses, which are distributed on a case-by-case basis, as needed.

“Students from around the world study at NC to enrich their lives and fulfill their dreams, and we are dedicated to going the distance for them,” said Vice President, International Sean Coote. “During these challenging times, we won’t let our students fall behind due to global circumstances they cannot control. We are stepping up our supports to help ensure that they succeed.”

Supports for students

Since late February, staff members from the College’s International division have been reaching out to students impacted by the war in Ukraine. Those who are experiencing financial hardships incurred due to loss of bank transfer abilities, have been offered assistance as well as flexible payment options.

In addition to assisting with financial challenges, they continue to work with students, one-on-one as needed, to ensure that the students have access to mental and emotional supports or resources.

Director, International Gary Torraville noted that, as a “home away from home” for international students, it is a priority for NC’s International Division to support them during their stay.

“As a College community, we provide more than just an education to students while they are with us. In their time of need, we become their security blanket and their main source of support and care while away from their family and other loved ones,” said Torraville.

While all international students typically experience a feeling of being disconnected from their family and friends, Torraville noted that during times of crisis – such as the war in Ukraine – this becomes amplified. Students have been experiencing escalated fear and anxiety as they hear news from back home, which can severely hamper their ability to focus on their studies.

That’s why, when the invasion began in Ukraine, NC’s International Division shifted its immediate focus on the mental and emotional well-being of its students, and pointed them to supports and resources available to help them.

The College community also responded with an outpouring of support. Employees and students alike have been filling on-campus displays with messages of hope and encouragement for the affected students. Heart-shaped blue and yellow cards with handwritten notes are on display near International’s offices at the Welland Campus and Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We all recognize that students from Ukraine and many other countries, including Russia, are victims of this circumstance and it is critical that we illustrate to our students that we stand with them and are here to support them through this terribly tragic and stressful time,” said Torraville. “When world events occur like this current situation in Ukraine, I am always so proud of the way all areas of the College come together to show that level of care and support that NC is known for.”

Putting the ‘NC’ in community

NC’s efforts extend beyond the borders of its campuses.

To assist Ukrainian visitors who have recently arrived in Niagara and may benefit from advancing their language skills, NC is offering scholarships to its English for Academic Preparation (EAP) program. Twenty full scholarships have been offered to recently arrived Ukrainian visitors, to attend NC’s EAP program’s May start, and more opportunities will be available during the months ahead.

For information about opportunities for recently arrived Ukrainian visitors to Niagara to attend NC’s English for Academic Preparation program, contact international@niagaracollege.ca or call 905-735-2211 est. 7152.

NC also recently joined 18 colleges across Ontario, along with Colleges Ontario, and the Ontario College Application Service, with a joint donation of $200,000 to UNICEF’s Ukraine emergency fund.

Donations and support

The Global Emergency Relief Fund is supported by contributions from corporate and individual donors. CIBC recently contributed $10,000 to support the fund.

The provincial government also recently announced $1.9 to create an Ontario-Ukraine Solidarity Scholarship in Ontario’s publicly assisted colleges and universities, to be awarded to individual students through their postsecondary institutions based on merit and financial need beginning in September 2022.

“We are truly grateful for this vital support from our government and from corporate and individual donors who are making it possible for more students to overcome barriers and achieve their dreams,” said Vice President, Research and External Relations, Marc Nantel. “These much-needed financial gifts help us ensure that students who have been welcomed into the Niagara community have the support they need to succeed during critical times and we know that it will truly make a difference in their lives.”

Donate to NC’s Global Emergency Relief Fund

Niagara College welcomes donations from the community to help support students through the Global Emergency Relief Fund. Those interested in helping NC’s international students during times of crisis – including those impacted by the war in Ukraine – may donate at donate.niagaracollege.ca.

(Attribution: Niagara College news release)

Ukraine Vigil: Spoken Words, Silent Reflection, Peace Lyrics

Captions, clockwise from top left: Greetings from Rev. Christina Paradela; Irene Newton speaks at the vigil; windy conditions made it challenging to keep candles lit; at the side of First Avenue, peace anthems were sung as traffic passed by the vigil venue./Photos by Joe Barkovich.

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – Ukrainians and their supporters are living through “a very painful time,” says Irene (Irka) Newton, president of Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Niagara branch.

She was in Welland Sunday evening as a guest speaker at Wesley United Church’s outdoor candlelight vigil for Ukraine. The short but moving service began when Wesley’s signature chimes pealed over the neighbourhood shortly after 7 p.m.

Newton said the lives of millions have been an “emotional roller coaster” since the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war, February 24. 

But countering that, it has been “overwhelming” to see the outpouring of support for the country, she added.

About 60 people attended the vigil in the church parking lot. Some were congregants of the First Avenue church and others were members of the local community.

Newton thanked them for coming out on a cold evening. She cautioned about becoming complacent as days go by and the war goes on because complacency can erode the powerful solidarity that has kept them united thus far. Their active interest and concern should not be allowed to wane because it is so important.

“If Putin wins, he’s a threat to the rest of the world,” Newton said. An unbridled Putin could have designs challenging Canada’s Arctic sovereignty, she warned, worrying that Canada would not be able to defend it.

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey (Liberal) said Ukraine was attacked by Putin, “a very, very evil individual.”

He said the Russian president is bent on destroying democratic-style governments.

“When we look at history, history will not be kind to Mr. Putin. He will go down in history as an evil individual.”

“We’re all in this together, it’s not just one country,” Badawey added.

After minister Christina Paradela read a prayer, she asked participants to walk to the street where they would be better seen by traffic. 

There they sang peace anthems like We Shall Overcome and Let There Be Peace on Earth. Several drivers showed solidarity with the group, honking horns as they passed by.

One was heard to shout out, ‘Slava Ukraini’, which means ‘glory to Ukraine’.

The vigil prayer as read by Rev. Christina Paradela:

O God, we pray. 

God of ploughshares, pruning hooks, and peace-making,

translate such old archaic words into hope today in Ukraine

that your promise to shatter bows and arrows, spears and shields be manifest.

We pray for the people of Ukraine, that they be spared trauma, violence and death.

We pray for Ukrainian soldiers doing what they can to hold off Russian advances.

We pray that peace may come and we may silence the air-raid sirens in Kyiv, which will then indicate an end to the horrific missile strikes and other violent attacks.

We pray for those who flee; help them to know that you are with them, remembering in particular the orphaned children who have no understanding of the root of this violence. 

We pray for those who are taking shelter in various targeted cities near Russian borders. 

We pray for Ukrainian troops and allies already exhausted from their long watching.

We pray your wisdom continues to inform NATO in their decisions, knowing that they are being constantly threatened and baited. We pray fervently that you guide the global democratic leaders, that they hold strong to their unity and stand on the values of diplomacy rather than violence and hold strong the diplomatic boundaries set for the purpose of weakening Russia rather than escalating further violence

We pray the Russian people rise up and say, “No!” to violence, aggression and war.

We pray for Germany and Poland, Romania and Slovakia as they open borders to fleeing refugees; and we pray that Canada’s doors will be open sufficiently wide to offer safety and sanctuary. 

God, we have studied war for so long, let it be no more, no more.

Teach us a new peacemaking, 

teach us ways to ensure that home is always home;

removing the need to take sanctuary elsewhere.

Strengthen them to do all that they can to protect innocent human life.

O God, may you hold gently in your heart the many who have lost their lives; bless those who love them and who grieve their loss. 

We pray in the name of your all the world’s many faiths, all of which call us into peace.

We pray for safety.

We pray for retreat.

We pray for peace.

God, in your mercy, hear our prayers.


(Adapted from a prayer composed by Rev. Maren C. Tirabassi.)