More than 300 Ukrainians who arrived in Winnipeg on Monday are now embarking on the complex – if not easier than usual – process of settling down after fleeing their homes amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
Nic Krawetz, a volunteer with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, has spent weeks helping Ukrainian newcomers adjust to life in Manitoba and is preparing to face others.
“They have no home to go back to and they will start over here,” said Krawetz, who helped coordinate UCC’s warm welcome for new arrivals at Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport on Monday.
“To see them, to see them smile, to see their children when they come out of the arrivals area and are presented with a stuffed animal and a welcome gift… It’s all worth it.”
He says that on Tuesday more than 700 Ukrainians have arrived since mid-April, including 328 who arrived on a charter flight from Poland on Monday. Krawetz said at least three more charter flights to Winnipeg are needed.
He said more than 240,000 Ukrainians have applied to come to Canada and so far 30,000 have arrived across the country.
Krawetz said those already here have three main priorities: housing, employment and child care.
“Many of them are very eager to work because they want to support themselves and their family members who have remained in Ukraine or those who have fled,” he said.
“Finding a job is absolutely essential and it’s a lifeline not only for them but for their whole family.”
New arrivals from Ukraine stay at the provincially run Ukrainian Refugee Reception Center in a hotel near the airport. They have access to a range of settlement resources, including employment, education, counselling, health, housing, language and other services.
This is in addition to the federal Canada-Ukraine emergency travel authorization program, which comes with a work visa that triggers access to a provincial health insurance card and other services.
The federal government also announced a temporary income assistance program on Monday. Starting next week, each Ukrainian adult newly arrived in Canada through CUAET will be able to claim $3,000 and $1,500 per child.
Experts who work with refugees say concerted efforts to bring Ukrainian newcomers to Canada and provide them with immediate access to so many supports is unusual and holds promise as a model for future refugee crises.
“Our sector is also feeling a bit more confident about how we can provide these other additional supports now that basic income is at least supported,” said Emily Halldorson, Ukraine Response Coordinator at the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving. Organizations.
Halldorson said despite all the government support, volunteers are still needed to help with translation and other tasks, including transport and helping people get to appointments.
Another need is funding and food donations for the furry friends the new arrivals have brought with them.
“It’s pretty much the same thing we see in natural disaster response in Canada: people don’t want to leave their pets and they won’t leave their pets,” Nicole told CBC. Frey, founder of Animal Food Bank in Winnipeg. Up to speed guest host Stephanie Cram on Tuesday.
Frey said about 30 cats, 10 dogs and a hamster arrived with their owners on Monday. Tuesday was all about buying and dropping off a hamster cage and cat scratching posts at the visitor center, Frey said.
Currently, volunteers are trying to educate newcomers on municipal spaying and sterilization bylaws, licensing, and other rules.
Animal Food Bank is run by volunteers and does not receive government funding, Frey said. The organization accepts pet food and financial donations through its website.
Krawetz said there is still work to be done to prepare for the next wave of new arrivals from Ukraine.
He said those who arrived on Monday were overwhelmed and grateful as they stepped off the plane.
“They know they’re safe, they know they can start over here,” he said. “A lot of tears from people, a lot of smiles and our goal was to really make them feel comfortable and comfortable and get them through quickly.”
It was also personally touching for Krawetz, whose family was directly affected by the war.
“It was very humbling and heartwarming because Manitoba is currently the leader in the country, I would say, when it comes to supporting newcomers from Ukraine,” he said. “It was truly a proud moment as a Manitoban, but also as a Ukrainian-Canadian.”