• Thu. May 19th, 2022

Ukraine support group in Altona ready to help refugees settle

ByJulie J. Helfer

Apr 28, 2022

Ukrainian refugees fleeing war in their country of origin have begun to settle in Canada.

Families landing in Altona will receive a helping hand from Ukraine at Altona, a grassroots group led by area resident Callum Morrison.

Morrison wants to provide the necessary support for refugees adjusting to life in a prairie town.

“I have been in contact with a lady and her family who are planning to come in the coming weeks. I know there is someone else coming to Altona (Thursday). I want to be able to set up a group so that once they are here we can assess with them and hopefully work with existing networks such as Regional Connections and Build a Village to assess what they need . We could provide that.

Morrison says the group draws on the experience of an organization similar to Morden that has ties to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Although it is difficult to predict how many families will come, some initial contacts have been made.

“I know three families who have already arrived in Morden and a few nights ago I had dinner with a couple from the Ukraine. People come in and they go looking for jobs, they go looking for housing, and they go looking for support and friendship, and you know other things. With the nature of this new immigration program, we really have no idea how many people would like to come to our city, but I want to be prepared. The goal is to make them feel accepted, welcome, and then we can integrate them into our community.

Unlike other immigration programs that take months or years to plan, Morrison says Ukrainian refugees will land on Canadian soil on only short-term work visas, having to find living arrangements after arrival.

Over the past month, Morrison has contacted a woman who is waiting for her final paperwork to be completed before she can book flights to Canada for her and her family.

“I think it’s exciting for her, but it’s also a new chapter in her life and it’s very heartbreaking because, for the most part, men can’t leave. So for a lot of families, this It’s going to be a very emotional time. We need to understand that and treat these people with compassion. A lot of times they’ve left everything behind to come here, even pets. What they can fit in a suitcase. That’s it, really .

Morrison didn’t have to look far for motivation to establish the support program.

“My parents in Scotland have been emptying my childhood bedroom for the past few days because they have someone from Ukraine. It’s a slightly different process there. You had to connect directly with someone and somehow go sponsor him. One day, my mother was texting this lady and said, ‘When do you think you can come?’ She said she was hiding in a field. So it’s very real, it changes from day to day depending on where you are. At least the lady I’m talking to right now, according to what I know is safe.

Residents of Altona and the Rhineland Municipality who want to help can get in touch through Ukraine on Altona’s Facebook page. The group is currently not collecting items (eg clothing, furniture, toys, toiletries, etc.) for displaced families due to uncertainty about the needs of expected immigrants. When these needs are identified, they will be posted on the group page.