The SCA and AETTSA collaborated on fundraising efforts. Image: Bardia Boomer/The Fulcrum
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“This is a crucial time for our communities to come together and help during these harsh, saddening times.”

During the early hours of Feb. 6, Syrian and Turkish citizens awoke to a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that originated near the border of both countries. Later that day, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake followed, causing further destruction to the Kahramanmaraş Province in Turkey.

As of March 1, over 45,000 Turks and 6,700 Syrians were confirmed dead, and over 1.5 million people were left homeless, according to the United Nations

At the University of Ottawa (U of O), both the Syrian Cultural Association (SCA) and the Turkish Students Association (AETTSA) promptly mobilized to raise humanitarian donations from the student body.

“The first fundraiser activity the Syrian Cultural Association organized was on February 8th and 9th. The fundraiser took place at FTX (Law Building) in collaboration with the Turkish Students Association at the University of Ottawa. The SCA also took part in a bake sale at UCU … on the 17th of February in collaboration with PSA uOttawa and APAC, as well as underwent two fundraisers at Carleton University on the same day too,” wrote Joelle Makdessi, founder and president of the SCA, in a statement to the Fulcrum.

While some students speculated that the associations paid a fee to set up these fundraisers, Makdessi said the SCA was not charged for the spaces booked on the U of O campus.

“Usually booking a space at the University of Ottawa takes around 10 business days. However, due to the emergency circumstances, we were able to set up for the fundraiser instantly. Spaces like UCU, FTX, FSS are all spaces you can book at uOttawa. These spaces get booked for free, however do contain a process. In the case of the earthquake, the wait process was lifted and the fee was zero dollars.”

On behalf of the U of O administration, Director of Issues Management and Media Relations Jesse Robichaud, wrote that the University of Ottawa stands in solidarity with Turkish and Syrian communities.

“Our university community is heartbroken by the senseless catastrophe that has touched so many lives in Turkey, Syria, and around the world. We are profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering that has accompanied this devastating loss of life, and the burden weighing on all who consider these countries home. In addition to the President’s message of solidarity, we have used social media to reach out to affected community members to offer support services, and also have identified a team of academic experts to provide context on these events.”

In light of the circumstances, Makdessi said the fundraisers were well-supported by students, and expressed her pride in the SCA’s ability to contribute to humanitarian efforts.

“The students who came were all very supportive, sincere, curious about what has happened and eager to find ways to help. Contributing in the aid process allows one to be helping humanity and innocent individuals that are found under rubble, or that have lost their loved ones. Whether it was a mother, a daughter, a father, or a son, it will affect them for the entire course of their lives. The least we can do is provide some financial support and clothes to keep them warm.”

If you would like to assist relief efforts in Syria and Turkey, contact the SCA and AETTSA.


  • Yannick Mutombo is the News Associate at the Fulcrum. He recently graduated with an Honours B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in English from the University of Ottawa, and is currently pursuing opportunities in journalism and freelance writing. His interests include, but aren't limited to, people watching; an affinity to oversleeping; establishing soft deadlines. You can find him on Instagram: @thenotoriousself