SMU recently hosted federal ministers to our school for a Roundtable on Innovation and Immigration. In attendance from the Federal Government was The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development; The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board; and the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minster of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship; and from the Provincial Government, The Honourable Lena Diab, Minister of Immigration. The Roundtable, hosted by Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, was very well organized and informed a lot of people about the unique stories of students and alumni at SMU. Students, Faculty, and Alum shared their experiences with study and work visas, citizenship, and helping others with these issues. SMU has a very large international student population and all of them need to go through these processes in order to attend SMU. The students and alum who spoke were very frank with the ministers about how short the post-grad permit period is, which is the best way to be especially when they’re standing right in front of you. We also heard from faculty that love their students and hate to see them struggle with such strict rules surrounding immigration because they are have such promising futures in their chosen degree or study. There was also representation from the private sector with Chris MacIntosh from IBM, Bruce Smith from ScotiaBank, and Saeed El-Darahali, SMU Alumni, President and CEO of SimplyCast.com. Each of them expressed the importance of international students and that these companies see them as a very valuable part of their makeup. Finally, the Federal Ministers took turns speaking. For Ahmed Hussen, it was one of his first public outings since being named to cabinet shortly before the event. The Somali native did very well and because he is an immigrant to Canada much like our students, it carried more weight when he said “International students are the cream of the crop and should be treated as so.” Overall, the Roundtable is something there should be more of at SMU. The room was packed, standing room only, and it was some great PR for our little school.
If you would like to see a play-by-play of what happened the day of, the SMU Journal live-tweeted the event. You can follow us @TheSMUJournal