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'I'm so grateful': Maritimers open their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the war

Surrounded by welcome cards made by Sarah Toma’s students, Ann Vasiutkena is adjusting to a new feeling of home.

"It was very unusual, and sometimes nervous, but that’s OK. We’re getting along very good and I’m so grateful for Sarah," said Vasiutkena.

Sarah Toma, a schoolteacher, offered Vasiutkena shelter through a website that matches fleeing Ukrainians with potential hosts around the world.

"Right now we’re focused on getting to know each other. That’s the primary focus, getting Ann settled, making sure she has what she needs," Toma said.

Chris Curtis and his partner Sarah used the same site to offer two bedrooms in their three-bedroom house in Dartmouth, N.S. A family of three will be arriving there on Wednesday.

"It’s a mother and her two children. Her children are 15 and eight years old," Curtis said.

Before their arrival, he and his partner sent the family a letter translated into Ukrainian to introduce themselves and explain who they are, their job schedules, and set any expectations for how the family can live in a one-bathroom house.

"And she was incredibly gracious. She sent information back to us about her and her family," he said. "We’re at the point now after constant communications for the last week, it’s almost like welcoming family."

Holly Bond is also offering space in her home and help however she can.

"I’m up in the middle of the night, helping them try to find resources, helping them with their resume," she said.

Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told CTV News on Monday over 90,000 applications have been made and more than 14,500 have been approved.

"We’re going to very soon potentially be seeing large numbers of people potentially arriving in Canada," Fraser said.

Ottawa has helped coordinate a job bank, but Ukrainians coming now aren’t arriving as refugees under Canada's immigration framework.

They’re arriving with temporary job visas.

"No financial support for tickets, for insurance, for any supports and of course accommodations," said Andre Mereshuk of the Nova Scotia chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

As for Vasiutkena and Toma, everything has worked well so far.

Vasiutkena, 20, has worked as an English tutor and already has a few job prospects. She is passionate about horses, hopes to work at a stable, and bring her boyfriend, an international student in Texas, to Halifax.

"Start something new here together, go through this together, and it will be much easier for me," she said. Top Stories

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