Yukon College welcomes new Syrian student

Abdullah at the Fish ladder
Abdullah Alaboud visited the Whitehorse Fish Ladder during his first week in Yukon.

WHITEHORSE—23-year-old Abdullah Alaboud (or “Abed” as he prefers to be known) is settling into campus life and learning to cope with the cooler temperature of his new home. 

Alaboud has immigrated to Canada through the World University Service Canada (WUSC) Student Refugee Program. Yukon College students and employees have raised $20,000 over the past year to help support Alaboud in his first year as a permanent resident in Canada. 

He arrived in Whitehorse late in the evening on Friday, August 25, after travelling 40 hours from Beirut, Lebanon, where he has lived the past three years with his parents and seven younger siblings. Abed is the eldest son. 

“I have mixed feelings. I am here to start a new life, a completely new life, by myself, in Canada. I have not done this before. I am excited, surprised and afraid. I am grateful toothe people here are kind and lovely,” said Alaboud. “Despite the cold.” 

Alaboud heard about the WUSC program in early 2017. He took an English assessment test and then studied English for three semesters at the American University in Beirut, so he could practice speaking, writing and reading English every day. He was accepted into the WUSC program in September 2017 and began the process of emigrating to Canada. He only learned Yukon College was his destination in June. 

“I began university studies first in Syria, then in Lebanon—five years so far and all I have to show for it is a certificate in project management. There have been too many interruptions due to the war in Syria and then the emigration process,” said Alaboud. 

Alaboud is now enrolled in the Yukon College Multimedia certificate program. He hopes to begin a career in graphic design and digital marketing and eventually own his own business. 

The Yukon College WUSC Committee would like to thank the following organizations for supporting the student refugee program at Yukon College through cash or in-kind donations: PSAC Yukon Regional Youth Committee, PSAC Yukon Area Council, Yukon College Student Union, Yukon College, PSAC/YEU Local Y011 (Yukon College), Islamic Relief Canada, Rotary Club of Whitehorse and Rendezvous Rotary Club of Whitehorse, Yukon College students, employees and generous donors who attended fundraising events. 

  • WUSC works with the Government of Canada, the UN Refugee Agency and overseas partners to assist with immigration screening, process applications, select students and prepare them for life in Canada. 

  • Applicants must be recognized as a refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and can only apply from the asylum countries of Kenya, Malawi, Jordan, Lebanon and Malaysia. 

  • From hundreds of applications an average of 130 students between the ages of 18 and 25 are selected annually. 

  • 83 Canadian colleges and universities have welcomed over 1800 sponsored student refugees under the WUSC program since it was established in 1978. 

For more information, please contact:

Gabriel Ellis

Instructor/Coordinator, ABE
School of Academic and Skill Development
Applied Arts

Michael Vernon

Communications Coordinator
College and External Relations