In Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Aleks Vrublevskij’s email is inundated with offers of housing, cash and jobs for Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the invasion of their homeland.
“We can barely keep up…people are telling us they are ready to help, and they want Canada to speed up the process,” he tells New Canadian Media.
Up north in Dawson Creek, Steve Tory says there has been an incredible response to his call for local communities to open their homes and wallets to help the refugees.
“I am getting calls and emails from all over B.C. and across the country,” he says.
Over in Victoria, Canada’s national rowers, led by Kristina Walker, have launched the “Row for Ukraine” Go-Fund Me donation drive , which has surpassed its $20,000 target in less than a day.
“It’s just incredible to see how people are ready to help,” says national rower Jill Moffatt, whose team of paddlers plan to row one metre for every dollar raised.
“I guess we should have capped the donations,” she quipped before adding: “We are ready to row to match the dollars raised.”
These are but some of the people and grassroots initiatives across B.C. that have sprung up to help Ukrainian refugees resettle in Canada.
New immigration streams
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), over 6,100 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada since the beginning of this year.
As part of Canada’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, IRCC has introduced new immigration streams for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada temporarily or permanently.
“There will be no limit to the number of Ukrainians who can apply. This is the fastest, safest, and most efficient way for Ukrainians to come to Canada, and eliminates many of the normal visa requirements,” IRCC Minister Sean Fraser announced.
At least one million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, the United Nations said yesterday, with projections that the exodus could become “the biggest refugee crisis this century.”
The UN estimates that as many as four million people could eventually leave Ukraine because of the invasion.
For Vrublevskij and his wife, the numbers are staggering, and they intend to make their community ready to assist.
Together with local politicians, they are organizing local religious leaders and their places of worship, individuals, and community centres to help Ukrainian refugees resettle.
The couple, who came to Canada from Ukraine about 20 years ago, have been inundated with calls, emails, and offers to help.
“It is simply a tremendous feeling when you see so many Canadians willing to help,” says Aleks.
Tory, of Dawson City, who has launched a website — https://helpukrainians.ca/ — to coordinate resettlement efforts, agrees.
“As ordinary citizens, we can’t stop war, but we can provide those in need with a welcome they’ll never forget,” he says.
Ready to accommodate
“And it’s not just the government, it’s people. People right across the spectrum are opening their hearts and their homes to those that are having their lives turned upside down,” Horgan told reporters at his weekly media availability.
According to him, the government has been contacting non-profits and religious groups that have traditionally led previous refugee resettlement efforts.
“It’s largely driven by non-governmental organizations who are in the business of taking care of new arrivals to B.C.,” Horgan said.
“We’re going to be continuing to fund those organizations as we have in the past, and offering whatever guidance we can to the federal government about whatever numbers we can absorb here in B.C.”
Among the agencies getting ready to help the refugees is MOSAIC, one of the largest settlement non-profit organizations in Canada that played a leading role resettling Syrian refugees in Metro Vancouver. They are currently organizing an information session for the coming week.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article published on March 4 incorrectly identified Steve Tory as Steven “Troy.”
A multiple-award winning journalist, Fabian Dawson is an internationally acclaimed author, filmmaker and media expert. His work over the last four decades spans the globe and he also serves as a consultant/strategic advisor to a variety of international companies. As deputy editor-in-chief of The Province, part of the Postmedia chain, Dawson led initiatives within a special publications group to provide directed content for a variety of organisations. He was named the 2019 recipient of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at Jack Webster Awards. Dawson has been invited by the governments of India, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and the United States to act as a media observer/advisor on a variety of Asian-Canada issues. Dawson, now operates FD Media, which specializes in harnessing editorial assets to revenue generating opportunities.