WES aims to support the aspirations of the young newcomers in our community

When arriving in a new country as a teenager or young adult, there are so many challenges to overcome. Success in schooling requires mastering a new language, learning a different curriculum, understanding unfamiliar teaching methods, and making new friends. It also means leaving behind the comfort of familiar places and loved ones as well as, for too many newcomers, being haunted by memories of armed conflict and personal danger. A new life, with so many opportunities, beckons – but achieving it demands a great deal of effort, courage and determination.

In our third project, WES aims to support the aspirations of the young newcomers in our community through two strands of funding:

WES Newcomer Scholarships (up to $2000) for individual students wishing to take extracurricular or post-secondary courses that will enable them to access, or continue, college or university programs;

WES Community Grants (up to $3000) to support community projects that will assist multiple students develop the confidence and skills required for success in post-secondary education. Such projects could be student-directed or led by other individuals and community partners.

Funding in both strands will be available for students who are within five years of arrival in Canada and who demonstrate good potential for successful outcomes. Applications will be accepted twice a year: October 31 for courses or projects starting in the following spring; April 30 for the following fall. Funding will be offered normally on a one-time only basis.

Completed Projects

Phase 1: 2013-2016

Giving hope through education

WES was founded in 2013 by a group of central Vancouver Island residents who came together to support an Afghan family living as refugees in Pakistan. The family’s eldest daughter was an international student at VIU. Her two younger sisters attended college in Pakistan but the family were facing increasing danger and insecurity. WES decided to support the applications to VIU of the two younger sisters as international students. Within the year their applications were accepted and they both received permits to study in Canada.

During the following three years the sisters attended VIU and worked towards their degrees in Business Administration. Throughout this time WES held many events to raise sufficient funds to finance and support these two young women. Thanks to the generosity of WES members, friends and associates, including many local businesses, nearly $150,000 was raised. Both young women graduated from VIU in December 2016 and are now pursuing careers in British Columbia. The three sisters have been able to bring their parents to Canada.

Phase 2: 2017-2020

Uniting a family

In March 2017, under the direction of a new Board, WES decided to support the family of another VIU international student from Afghanistan. Her family had been living in a perilous situation in Kabul and were forced to flee to Turkey, where they lived as refugees with financial support from WES. Under the guidance of the Refugee Sponsorship Program of the Anglican Diocese, WES took on the responsibilities of a Group of Five sponsorship group to bring the family of six to Canada. Our application on behalf of the family for permanent residence was approved by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the family arrived in Nanaimo in June 2019.

WES continued to support the family throughout their first year in Canada. In total, WES provided over $75,000 in direct or in-kind contributions. The financial support has come to an end and the whole family is living independently in Nanaimo. The children are attending schools or VIU and all family members have adapted well to their new environment.

During Phase 2, the WES Board agreed to host the Resilience Project, an initiative of a VIU student from Syria to provide after school academic support to children of newcomer families who were struggling at school.

Get involved

Become a Friend of WES

For an annual donation of $25, you can play an active role in our latest projects. Any contribution, large or small, will make a difference to the lives of newcomers in our community.

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