March 9, 2022


I hope that this finds you all safe and well.  Like many of you, I’ve been glued to the TV nightly watching horrifying images of Russia’s unwarranted and illegal invasion of Ukraine.  This is a grim situation, with over 2 million refugees (and counting) fleeing deplorable, life-threatening conditions.

UBC is doing it’s part.  For example, we have set up an emergency bursary which would allow our students from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia to access funds.  We also have a number of mental health supports in place for those experiencing emotional strain at this time (see below), and will continue to explore ways of supporting students, staff, and faculty who are impacted by this war.

All that said, I think that we can be doing more and I would ask you to think of ways that the Faculty of Forestry can engage beyond carefully crafted statements of support and (re)tweets.  It is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that providing assistance to refugees in need is part of our Faculty’s DNA.  In 1957, we accepted more than 200 Hungarian students as they fled eerily similar circumstances of a Soviet invasion, forever changing the complexion of our Faculty (and BC forestry writ large) for the better.  This was a bold, courageous, and unparalleled action which, at the very least, should remind us of what can be accomplished with a little bit of imagination, some creativity, and open arms.

So, I ask you, dear colleagues, is there anything that our community should be doing in this time of crisis, not only to help Ukrainian refugees, but also the long queue of asylum seekers and political dissidents from all over the world who are seeking new lives in Canada?  I am very open to hearing any suggestions that you may have and exploring ways in which our Faculty and University can make a difference.

All the best,