Skip to main content

Seneca’s first-ever International Development Week

Events run February 5 to 9

The Great Hall at Newnham Campus

Seneca’s first-ever International Development Week gets underway at Newnham Campus. The opening ceremony features Joe Belliveau, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, as keynote speaker.


You’ve seen the photos. A fishing boat full of people packed like sardines. Faces pressed against barbed wire waiting to cross a border. Families living in makeshift tents held up by muddy sticks.

“What can we do about it?” you ask.

The answer to that question and many more like it is at the heart of Seneca’s first-ever International Development Week (IDW), which kicked off Monday, Feb. 5 at Newnham Campus. The event runs until Friday, Feb. 9.

President David Agnew and keynote speaker Joe Belliveau

President David Agnew (left) shares a laugh with keynote speaker Joe Belliveau at the opening ceremony held in the Great Hall.

Organized by Seneca International, IDW aims to promote global mindedness and foster discussions with students, faculty and staff on some of today’s most-pressing issues. For example, migration (refugees and internally displaced persons) and environment (connections with nature and cultural revolution) are being explored this week through a variety of events and workshops on campus.

Elder Laureen (Blu) Waters

Elder Laureen (Blu) Waters offers a blessing at the opening ceremony. Located on the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation as well as the Williams Treaties First Nations traditional territories, Seneca has a deep connection to Canada’s Indigenous peoples.


Approximately 30 per cent of Seneca’s students are international, including some who are refugees.

President David Agnew, who conducted extensive field visits to areas such as Darfur, Eastern Congo and Sierra Leone while head of UNICEF Canada in the early 2000s, calls IDW “an important week to step back and think about some of the pretty tough problems around the world. It’s a great opportunity to open your mind and learn.”

Joe Belliveau, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, agrees.

In his keynote speech during the opening ceremony, Joe says the aforementioned question of “what can we do about it” starts with “a recognition of our shared humanity.”

He encourages people to think of ways to take action and engage others.

“We have to think creatively,” he says. “How can we connect with people on the move? How do we use our voice? People on the move need help and protection—that’s pretty basic.”

Zoubi Arros and Adriano Loparco from Seneca's IPS program

Zoubi Arros (left) and Adriano Loparco from Seneca's Independent Songwriting and Performance program perform at the IDW opening ceremony.


Seneca’s IDW coincides with Global Affairs Canada’s International Development Week in February. Events throughout the week and across campuses feature several notable speakers, including Tracey Evans, Program Manager, Aga Khan Foundation Canada; Gideon Forman, Climate Change Policy Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation; and Eric Horstman, Director, Pro Forest Foundation.

IDW organizing team

Seneca’s IDW organizing team (l-r) Higo Godinho, Rinky Barua, Melina Kalamandeen and Marco Parisi started planning the event last October. A total of 14 events took place over a two-week period, pre- and during IDW, around campuses. The team was led by Monica Kronfli, Director of International Mobility.