Donated furniture and household items were transported to six Skyline Living apartments in preparation for Ukrainian families soon to arrive in Red Deer.
Ukrainian immigrant Olena Karachentseva, who moved to Red Deer eight years ago, sponsors six families and has been overwhelmed with support from the apartment company and Lorne Doktor, the building maintenance worker.
Doktor said he just heard the families were coming and contacted his neighbors to collect donations.
“Of course, this extended to their families and friends. Everyone has been very generous,” Doktor said.
He said almost everything families need has been collected. The money that was donated was used to purchase basic household supplies.
Karachentseva said visas are in the works for the families, a total of 18 people, and hope they will arrive by April 15.
She said the families lived in the cities of Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia, and it took them a few weeks to get out of the country. They are now in Poland, Germany and Italy waiting to come to Canada.
“I just need to help,” Karachentseva said.
Frank Bauer, executive director of Care for Newcomers, formerly Central Alberta Refugee Effort, said he doesn’t know how many Ukrainians will come to central Alberta, but a lot is expected.
“Canada itself has not committed to a fixed number, but I could easily see 30,000 to 40,000 Ukrainians entering Canada. The fact that the Prairie provinces already have a large population of Ukrainians, a good portion of those people will likely come to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba,” Bauer said.
He said the majority of them will be women with children, while the men will stay to fight, so families will be separated, which is different from most refugees or immigrants.
“It’s a horrible thing that happened.”
Care for Newcomers will hire more staff to help children, and the capacity of its language training program is being assessed.
He said people had contacted the agency to find out how they could help.
“We don’t have definitive answers yet. Until we know exactly when people will arrive, we are holding back on donations of things because we wouldn’t have a place to store them. But monetary donations are always welcome.
He said Ukrainians are getting three-year extended temporary visas and work permits, and the federal government only confirmed this week that they will be able to access all services normally available only to permanent residents. Health care will also be provided by the province.
“Next week we would like to start conversations with other stakeholders in the community to see what we can do together. There are so many things that need to be in place and existing capabilities will not be enough,” Bauer added.
This week, Central Alberta Refugee Effort officially became Care for Newcomers to show that it serves the broader community of newcomers to Canada.
The agency was founded in 1979 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to help settle Indochinese refugees fleeing the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
For more information, visit www.carefornewcomers.ca.