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'We need them': Aid group encourages Maritimers to host Ukrainian refugees


As Canada readies itself to welcome more than 10,000 Ukrainian refugees in the coming weeks, aid groups in the Maritimes, who are helping those fleeing the war, say they desperately need more people to volunteer as hosts.

"We definitely need more hosts where there are employment opportunities,” said Marilyn Clark, an immigration consultant and owner of Port To Port Immigration Services.

As Canada continues to support Ukrainians, many fleeing the war are looking to find safe refuge here in the Maritimes. Clark says the quality of life in our region is a major attraction, but refugees will need a support network when they land here.

“As we know, with the high cost of living and the lack of affordable housing options it makes things very hard,” said Clark. “People need a transition because starting off with no apartment and no furniture makes it difficult to get started.”

Clark travelled to Warsaw, Poland in early March to assist those fleeing the war find safety and work in the Maritimes. She says the Atlantic Immigration Program can help Ukrainians get on a fast track to permanent resident status if they land the right job.

"We have a lot to offer,” said Clark. “I just think that we have to do a better job communicating what we have to offer."

Atlantic Canada Hosts for Ukraine, an online refugee aid group, says they've helped connect 300 Ukrainians with hosts here in the Maritimes, but more are needed.

The federal government announced this week that it is chartering three flights from Ukraine to Canada –with a plane touching down in Halifax on June 2 and two other flights landing in Montreal on May 29 and Winnipeg on May 23.

"The primary concern for most Ukrainians that I’ve spoken to over the last six to eight weeks is 'I want to go someplace where I can get a job,'” said William Hunter, a volunteer administrator with the Facebook group Atlantic Canada Hosts for Ukraine.

The online aid group has nearly 7,000 followers and the group estimates that nearly 3,000 Ukrainians will eventually settle in Nova Scotia alone.

"We need a lot of hosts,” said Hunter. “Anybody that has a place they can turn into a warm safe place for a Ukrainian or Ukrainian family to get started here in Canada, we need them."

Earlier this week, the federal government and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser announced the details of the three charter flights, which will leave from Poland with Ukrainians who have been approved through the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program.

“Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced and forced to flee their homes, and these charter flights will help make sure that those who want to come to Canada have the support they need,” Fraser said in a news release.

“We’ll continue to work with provinces and territories, settlement organizations and NGOs to make sure Ukrainians feel at home in their new communities.”

Once in Canada, the Ukrainians who need it will be provided temporary accommodation for up to 14 nights at a hotel. Top Stories

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