New Brunswickers begin preparations for arrival of Ukrainians displaced by war

·3 min read
Ukrainian refugees arrive at a Romanian port in late March. (CBC News - image credit)
Ukrainian refugees arrive at a Romanian port in late March. (CBC News - image credit)

The City of Moncton has activated its emergency coordination centre to prepare for the arrival of hundreds of people who are fleeing the war in Ukraine.

"Quite a few" have already arrived and are staying with family members in the city, said community safety director Conrad Landry, but preparations are being made for as many as 500.

A precise number to expect is unknown.

"That's the question of the hour," Landry said.

People are arriving in two "streams," family reunification and immigration, he said.

Certain aspects of settlement are being looked after by the federal and provincial governments, said Landry, such as language needs, Medicare and transportation to New Brunswick.

Kate Letterick/CBC News
Kate Letterick/CBC News

But the city and community organizations are looking to address "gaps" for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, he said.

The city is partnering with various community organizations, including the Salvation Army and the Food Depot, on special campaigns that he hopes will be launched this week.

Another partner, the Ukrainian Club of Moncton, is registering people who have apartments for rent or are willing to be host families.

"It's quite complex because of the crisis of lack of housing in our area," said Landry.

Stay could last several months

The commitment to be a host family shouldn't be made lightly, he suggested, because temporary accommodation may be required for a period of several months.

Neither is there financial support for host families. And the newcomers may need drives to school, work or errands, especially if they aren't on a bus route.

"It's really on a voluntary basis," he said.

Anyone interested in signing up as a host family should do so online through the Ukrainian Club of Moncton website, said Landry, as opposed to phoning.

The group isn't set up to handle calls from the public, he said.

"They've been working at this for quite a few months.

"They're tired. They have some loved ones over there. So we just want to be in the background and support them."

Fredericton, Saint John also preparing

Landry expects the emergency co-ordination centre will remain activated for a couple of months.

The Ukrainian Community of Fredericton is also collecting information on those who are willing to become hosts, said volunteer Oksana Tesla, and assessing the needs of those who are planning to come to Fredericton.

Tesla expects to gain a better understanding of what to expect for the settlement process this week.

A provincial meeting is planned for Wednesday, she said, hosted by Opportunities New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

Some Ukrainian refugees are being matched with host families in Atlantic Canada through an unofficial volunteer-run group on Facebook, "Atlantic Canada hosts for Ukrainians."

Svetlana Goncharova said she knows of about 20 Ukrainian families who are in the process of deciding whether they'll go to Saint John.

She and other members of the Ukrainian Association of Saint John are also talking about how to prepare.

"Our idea is to understand who is going to come and their needs and collect donations based on that," she said.

They've also been meeting with community groups such as the YMCA, so they don't duplicate efforts, said Goncharova,

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