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Member Profile May-June 2014


World University Service of Canada



Majok, a formerly sponsored student via the SRP, at his graduation at Dalhousie University with a WUSC local committee member, Julia Keech.

This month CCIC met with Chris Eaton, CEO of World University Service of Canada (WUSC), one of Canada’s oldest and most active international development organization. Mr. Eaton talked about one of WUSC’s flag ship program (read more to discover!) and shared reflections and hopes for the future of his organization….among other things!


CCIC - The Student Refugee Program (SRP) is one of WUSC’s flagship programs. Can you tell us more about the SRP program and what makes it so unique?

Chris Eaton - The Student Refugee Program is the only program in the world that combines post-secondary education with refugee resettlement, and the only known youth-to-youth sponsorship model. The program is made possible by Canadian youth and post-secondary institutions whose efforts combined with WUSC, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and UNHCR resettle and provide educational opportunities to refugee youth who would otherwise not have access to higher education. The program has active sponsoring groups on approximately 65 post-secondary campuses across Canada, engages over 600,000 Canadian students annually, and welcomes 75 new refugee students each summer. With a graduation rate of 97%, the program promotes the successful integration of refugees into Canada, the civic engagement of young Canadians, and the enrichment and internationalization of university and college campuses across the country. In 2013, WUSC celebrated the program’s 35th anniversary, and the cumulative arrival of nearly 1400 students.


CCIC - WUSC is one of Canada’s oldest NGOs. What are the reasons behind your long organizational history? And what have been some of the challenges WUSC has faced in the past few years?

Chris Eaton - WUSC has its origins on university campuses in the 1920s and was incorporated in its present form in 1957. This longevity can be attributed to the strong and engaged base that WUSC has nurtured with students, faculty, volunteers and alumni across the country. With this support, WUSC has developed a number of enduring relationships with peer organizations in Canada, Africa, Asia and the Americas – organizations that complement and enhance WUSC’s competencies, bring greater efficiencies to its operations, and extend the reach and impact of its programs.

WUSC has also had to periodically refine its strategies, update its programs, and revise its operations, in order to give contemporary relevance to its mission of improving education, employment and empowerment outcomes for disadvantaged women and youth. These changes have allowed WUSC to continue to add value to the issues and challenges on which it works, and to secure the resources needed to do so. Ensuring relevance and mobilizing needed resources remain key challenges for WUSC, as they do for all international development organizations, regardless of the scale of their operations.


CCIC - At the latest CCIC Annual Conference, Minister Paradis announced three calls for proposals for Canadian interns and volunteers. How would you describe the role -and value- of a Canadian volunteer in 2014?

Chris Eaton - The setting in which Canadian international volunteering occurs – in Canada and around the world – has radically changed over the last 20 years. The donor environment is more competitive, while Southern organizations are increasingly sophisticated, innovative and effective. As a result, the added value of and funding for volunteer cooperation can no longer be taken for granted.

In response to this changing environment, Canadian volunteering has also changed significantly over the last 20 years. It has gone from often ad hoc, supply-led volunteering by Canadian youth – to more demand-led, capacity-building, and sector-focused volunteering of Canadian and local professionals, at all stages of their careers. To continue to remain relevant, Canadian volunteering will need to shed its last vestiges of paternalism, engage more seriously with a wider range of civil society, market and government actors, and grapple more effectively with the issues of scale and sustainable development outcomes.


CCIC - What are you looking forward to most in the next 12 months?

Chris Eaton - WUSC is embarking upon a number of exciting initiatives that will advance our work on education, employment and empowerment for youth – initiatives that WUSC will undertake with its membership, key partners in Canada and around the world, and with the Canadian government and other donors. Chief among these is the renewal of Uniterra, the innovative volunteer cooperation program that WUSC co-implements with the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) in Montreal. Similarly, WUSC is at the front end of a plan to double the size of the Student Refugee Program, while also investing significantly more in the education systems of the host communities and refugee camps from which student refugees are recruited. Together these, and a few related initiatives, will keep the WUSC team excited and fully occupied over the coming months.


CCIC - Can you tell us a bit about your experience of the value of CCIC and being a member?

Chris Eaton - CCIC continues to be one of the most important forums for bringing the non-governmental international development community together – and for structuring and supporting their engagement with one another, with other international actors, and with the Canadian government. CCIC staff has, over the past year, engaged its diverse membership on a number of key issues that are important to our sector. It has also played a particularly important role in re-establishing a constructive dialogue between DFATD and the broader NGO community – in ways that augur well for Canada’s international development efforts. In all of these efforts, CCIC staff has the full support of WUSC.



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