Saudi Arabian students have been recalled from Canada due to rising tensions between the two countries after the Canadian government made public statements against the imprisonment of female protestors.
The conflict began when Canadian Foreign Affairs took to Twitter to urge Saudi authorities to release women’s rights activists after they were detained back in early August.
The Foreign Ministry of the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) responded back, considering the tweet “an attack on the KSA and requires a firm stance to deter who attempts to undermine the sovereignty of the KSA.”
The Saudi government then suspended all new trade and investment relations with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador, Dennis Horak, as “persona non grata” and gave him 24 hours to leave the country. Saudi Arabia also said it would recall its envoy to Canada temporarily.
The country also announced on August 8 that it would put a halt to its medical programs in Canada and move all Saudi patients receiving care in Canadian hospitals to hospitals in other countries.
Saudi students attending universities around Canada were ordered to leave Canada by August 31st.
Most notably for TRU, Saudi students studying in Canada on Saudi Arabian scholarships were ordered to relocate to another country or risk losing financial assistance. Roughly 16,000 students were sponsored by such scholarships at the time of the announcement.
“We anticipate the majority, if not all, that are currently enrolled are impacted by this decision,” said TRU’s executive communications officer, Darshan Lindsay.
“[TRU’s goal] is to support them and make their transition home go as smoothly as possible,” Lindsay added.
Lindsay went on to provide the following statement:
For the summer term, TRU had 23 students from Saudi Arabia on campus. TRU World staff met with affected students to assist with their transition back home.
While the situation is unfortunate, we have heard from students that they feel very supported by TRU and that their experience here has been good. TRU World hosted a farewell event for the students in August. It was an opportunity for them to meet with staff and faculty, to say their goodbyes and for us to wish them well. They were in good spirits.
At this time, the majority of Saudi students have left Kamloops to return home.