Nova Scotia

'I was not prepared': Winter coat drive aims to help foreign students

This year Cape Breton University saw an influx of nearly 2,000 international students, including about 800 from India where temperatures this week are around 30 C.

Cape Breton University sees influx of international students, many from warm climates

Scott Thomas holds a jacket from the winter coat donation box at Cape Breton University on Monday. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)

Cape Breton University has launched a winter coat drive for international students who are not used to frigid Atlantic Canadian winters.

This year the university saw an influx of nearly 2,000 international students, including about 800 from India where temperatures this week are around 30 C.

First-year student Nidhi Rana of Punjab said she was forewarned that temperatures in Cape Breton could go down to -30 C, so she packed a warm coat for her first winter.

It's a different story for her friend Raman Gill, who may turn to the program if she can't get a jacket on sale.

"No, I was not prepared," said Gill. "I am buying things and I am waiting for the Black Friday."

Nidhi Rana, left, and Raman Gill from India are preparing for their first winter in Cape Breton. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)

Scott Thomas, CBU's diversity and human rights officer, said there are many students who can't afford proper clothes for winter. "We have already seen a need with the first, kind of, frost on the ground," he said. "We have seen four or five students, I know personally we've helped secure jackets."

Thomas said the need is also apparent for students who live off campus. "Many of the students rely on public transportation, standing and waiting for a bus can be pretty cold."

Welcome to Winter Coat Drive donation boxes are set up around campus and at Walmart stores in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

People are also asked to donate winter gloves, scarves and hats. "It is very nice," said Gill. "We are finding jobs still and we really need some help so it's very good."

Welcome to Winter Coat Drive has already helped a number of students. (Yvonne Leblanc-Smith/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith has been reporting news in Cape Breton since 1981. You can follow her on Twitter @leblancsmith and reach her at yvonne.leblanc-smith@cbc.ca

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