When you think about reasons to be grateful to be Canadian, look no further than local mom Stephanie Clark and other volunteers in North Vancouver who have come together to help Ukrainian families displaced by war.
Over 12 Million Ukrainians have fled their homes following the Russian invasion in March 2022 and over 55,000 of those arrived in Canada between January 1 and June 26.
The government of Canada is offering a program for Ukrainians to work or study in Canada for up to three years, but they’re only providing limited financial assistance. Finding housing is the biggest hurdle for these refugees, says Ihor Michalchyshyn, executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – especially in expensive cities like Vancouver.
Stephanie wanted to do more to help, so she decided to band together with neighbours and open their homes to refugees through a public bulletin website called Ukraine Take Shelter. They connected with three families – all extended relatives of each other – whose homes were destroyed and who escaped with only a backpack.
While they had some savings, the value of Ukrainian currency was so low compared to the Canadian dollar they knew it wouldn’t go far once they got to Canada. Thanks to Stephanie’s act of kindness, they were able to get past the initial challenge and not worry about money while they figured out their next steps.
As of June 29, the families – 6 adults and 3 children – are now living in their interim homes in North Van.
Getting to Canada was one major hurdle, but the family breadwinners are now in the process of finding employment, working on their English skills, and getting their kids into school.
Generous people have been donating things like furniture and clothing for the refugee families, but until they’ve secured long-term housing there isn’t enough space in the hosts’ homes. We’ve donated a locker at our North Vancouver location to store donated items in the meantime.
Because of Good Samaritans like Stephanie, three families have places to live while they get settled. And they finally have a chance to breathe after months burdened by stress.
If you have the space to host a refugee family, please consider it. If you’d like to donate and support the families staying with Stephanie and her neighbours, click here for the GoFundMe page.