At this difficult time when our hearts are already burdened, I deeply regret that I must share news that is sure to weigh them down further.
This morning a University of Ottawa student was found deceased in one of our on-campus residences.
I know that this news will be deeply upsetting to the uOttawa community, as it most certainly is to me.
On behalf of the University, I offer my deepest condolences to this student’s family, friends and loved ones.
The University does not, as a rule, comment on the cause of death in these situations. However, given the unprecedented social context that we face today, I feel compelled to let members of our community and the public at large know that based on the knowledge we have at present, this death does not appear to be related to the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Nonetheless, the loss of a promising young life is an inexpressible tragedy.
We mourn this student’s death as a caring community, and we mourn as individuals who have each known despair and loss.
With the deepest respect for the solemnity of this sad occasion, I wish to take this opportunity to address all of those students on campus who are feeling anxious or overwhelmed especially in the context of current events.
To you I say: You are not alone. You are among friends and people who care deeply about you. I care about each of you, and so do your fellow students and your professors.
I want you to know that our mental health counselors are there for you. They are available over this weekend and during the week at our walk-in clinic on the fourth floor of 100 Marie-Curie they will be there for you and will work with our community partners who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Please come and meet with them. They are there for you. Share with them how you are feeling. They will listen to you. They want to help.
I repeat, you are not alone, and we care deeply about you.
It is also important that all members of our community understand that ‘social distancing’ should not mean ‘social isolation’ nor ‘emotional isolation’.
Isolating yourself completely from your friends and family may reduce the risk of physical illness, but we are social beings. We need human connections to survive and to thrive.
Please, stay in touch with your friends and family. If you are struggling or feel you have no one to turn to, please speak to your Residence Advisor, or visit one of our campus mental health counselors. I know that many of you, including our international students can feel particularly isolated being so far away from family and friends in a new environment and during a stressful time. I encourage members of our community to reach out to them. Check in with each other. Be there for each other. We will always need each other, and we must always care for one another.
Apart from following the steps that have been recommended to reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection, please don’t forget to tend to your emotional wellness. Eat well. Sleep well. Practice Mindfulness. Meditate. Take a walk in the fresh air.
The University is continuing to rapidly develop and implement a wide range of measures to help protect and support students, faculty and staff from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet these troubling times may exacerbate existing stress and anxieties. Even as we mourn the tragic death of our student, I urge you to support one another to ensure that we may meet the challenges ahead in unity and strength. Remember that we are resilient, we are caring, and we are compassionate.
In conclusion, I offer once again my deepest personal condolences to the deceased student’s family, friends and loved ones on this tragic occasion.
President and Vice-Chancellor
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