Three refugee athletes competing in Tokyo heading to Sheridan College in Oakville

Published July 24, 2021 at 4:56 pm


Three refugees chasing the Olympic dream will soon be chasing their academic dreams at Oakville’s Sheridan College.

Rose Nathike Likonyen, Paulo Amotun Lokoro and James Nyang Chiengjiek, athletes with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Refugee Olympic Team, are being offered admission to Sheridan for the 2021-2022 academic year.

All originally from South Sudan, the three athletes will make history as the first cohort students to come to Canada through a new complementary pathway of the World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC) long-standing Student Refugee Program.

The program is the only one of its kind to combine opportunities for resettlement with higher education

With this new initiative, a collaboration between WUSC, Sheridan College and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the three athletes will be sponsored to resettle to Canada where they can continue their studies and their athletic pursuits after the Tokyo Games.

By supporting these athletes, Sheridan believes its showing its deep commitment to global citizenship and pushing boundaries toward innovative, collaborative solutions to complex problems. 

“Sheridan is proud to welcome two-time Olympians Rose Nathike Likonyen, Paulo Amotun Lokoro and James Nyang Chiengjiek as students to our Trafalgar Campus in Oakville this fall,” said Maria Lucido Bezely, Sheridan’s Dean of Students. “The dedication, resilience and tenacity that they have shown in the pursuit of their athletic and personal goals will contribute to their success both on and off the track.

“We are so pleased that these inspiring athletes have chosen the Sheridan learning community as they settle into life in Canada as permanent residents, and we look forward to supporting their journey.” 

Likonyen, Lokoro and Chiengjiek, who are among 29 refuge athletes competing in the Tokyo Games, have been living and training for the Tokyo from the Kakuma refugee camp and a training centre in Ngong, Kenya.

Facing barriers to studying, working, and pursuing their passions such as sport due to conflict and persecution, the three athletes fled their countries.

While resettlement would allow refugees to rebuild their lives, it’s only one solution and according to the UNHCR, less than one percent of the more than 26.4 million refugees worldwide are resettled each year. 

“While we continue to encourage States to increase the number of resettlement spaces, UNHCR also urges them to develop additional third country routes for refugees like private sponsorship and scholarships at post-secondary institutions which will increase access to protection and solutions for refugees,” explains Rema Jamous, UNHCR Representative in Canada.

This year, Likonyen, Lokoro and Chiengjiek will join a cohort of 153 student refugees who will study at 80 institutions across Canada through the broader WUSC Student Refugee Program. 

“What Rose Nathike, Paulo Amotun, and James Nyang will remind the world on the Olympic stage in Tokyo, is that we have a collective responsibility to uphold the rights and help realize the potential of millions of refugees around the world,”

explains WUSC’s Executive Director, Chris Eaton.

“WUSC is pleased to collaborate with our partners to find innovative solutions for all refugees, and looks forward to welcoming Rose Nathike, Paulo Amotun, and James Nyang to Canada after the games.”


Pictured above left to rightRose Nathike Likonyen, James Nyang Chiengjiek and Paulo Amotun Lokoro.


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