No More Suicides! Demand University of Ottawa Provide Alumni Mental Health/Career Services

No More Suicides! Demand University of Ottawa Provide Alumni Mental Health/Career Services

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Karli Zschogner started this petition to Jacques Frémont (President, Office of the President, University of Ottawa)

The University of Ottawa Alumni experience remains outdated and out of touch with those who invested tens of thousands of dollars into their educational institution. Alumni spa and hairdresser discounts DOES NOT cut it for ‘health and wellness’

See below four tangible demands for change.

Alex Trebek was not the only alumni lost in 2020. Within 2019-2020, five students have died by suicide.  On December 16, 2020, tragically and unexpectedly, 28-year-old University of Ottawa alumnus Michael Burchill died by suicide after returning to his home of Guelph from Yellowknife, NT. 


Micheal was a compassionate and empathetic young leader and male role model. Dedicated to improving the wellbeing of others, he cared very much about truth and reconciliation processes, civic and political education and engagement, LGBTQ+ issues, women’s rights, as well as men’s health.

Michael graduated in 2015 from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Social Science with a specialization in Public Administration. Working for TD Bank to pay for tuition, food, and rent, Michael was an active member and president of the University of Ottawa Ukrainian Students Club (SUSK). He volunteered in multiple elections, one of which included federally for the late Mauril Belanger (Ottawa-Vanier).

With deep curiosity and love for different cultures and the natural sciences, he worked as a flight attendant for WestJet. Within the last two years, he lived and worked in Yellowknife under the Legislative Assembly of Northwest Territories. He became very passionate about bridging the gap of disparities of living between Canada’s South and North including the cost of food and access to services and education.

“It’s rough to see a part of the country "no one cares about" continuing to be ignored,” Michael had said to Karli Zschogner in conversation about their direct experiences working in northern and rural communities.

Only a few weeks before he passed during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Micheael graduated from the online University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada, which was endorsed by Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy, is the most popular online course in Canada.


“There is so much we were not taught in history classes,” he said to his mother Elizabeth Michasiw. “I have a much clearer understanding why we are where we are today.”

Any suicide is too many. While Michael remained open about navigating and dealing with depression which began as a UOttawa student, there was not enough cumulative support such as navigating jobs and careers. The University of Ottawa, Canada has lost an aspiring and inspirational role model! 

UOttawa, where is your #defytheconventional for the health and wellbeing of those who gave so much to you?

For the student experience, particularly within the faculties of arts, social sciences, and sciences, educational content distributed by professors and their syllabus, remains disconnected, detached, and far too theoretical in navigating careers and job markets especially. The existing problem has exacerbated during the pandemic. Mental health and mental health education is not a one-time course or fix; it requires live-long guidance and practices far beyond graduation.

With the hiring of a UOttawa mental health advisor in light of the 12 recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Wellness, there must be a responsibility to Alumni of the university. Please stop just relying on asking alumni for money when there are no real supportive resources for Alumni!


Demands supported by Michael’s family and friend to the University of Ottawa’s President Frémont as well as Lucie Gendron, Director of Alex Trebek Alumni Hall, and Elizabeth Kristjansson, UOttawa's Mental Health Advisor: 

1. Incorporate and provide accessible mandatory to optional class content/workshops for students and alumni that provides different career paths, role models, and options from different faculties, career development and social entrepreneurism, mental health, and navigating job hunting.

2. Improve student to alumni capacity and outreach including from the Alex Trebek Alumni Hall in greater reach-out to graduates, opportunities to share personal experiences, virtual office hours, even birthday wishes (Example from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University).

3. Update Alumni Services and Benefits: Make clear and accessible graduation packages at least 5-10 years after graduation to life-long mental health resources and discounts. This ensures graduating students feel welcome and valued as Alumni. This includes a) Promotion and accessibility to graduates of UOttawa to the more recently developed Wellness resources; b) Subscriptions to mental health and wellness programs such as Silver Cloud with a registered profession, Ottawa’s Royal Healthy Minds app, and Canadian Mental Health Association’s Bounce Back program

4. Provide accessibility to at least 3 per year free in-person/online career counseling sessions with connection with faculty guidance from the  Student Academic Success Service (SASS) and or other registered career counselors

Sign this petition to show the University of Ottawa it’s time to stop only asking for money but to think of the University community as a whole. Sign for better supports for Alumni now!

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!