Former Sask. hockey player helps transport Ukrainians fleeing war

·2 min read
Michael Garnett rented a nine-passenger van for a month to transport those fleeing the war in Ukraine.  (CBC News - image credit)
Michael Garnett rented a nine-passenger van for a month to transport those fleeing the war in Ukraine. (CBC News - image credit)

A Saskatchewan man whose hockey career included stints with the Saskatoon Blades and the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers is helping Ukrainians fleeing war.

Michael Garnett is in Prezemysl, Poland, as a volunteer near the Ukrainian border and rented a nine-passenger van for a month.

He travelled there with his wife, Rebecca, who has since returned to their home in Calgary.

Garnett also played hockey internationally in the Kontinental Hockey League, in Russia, for 10 years.

"I have friends over there and I wish them well and I hope everything works out for them," said Garnett.

He can speak Russian, which he said has been an asset for him.

"I can communicate with them. I can give them a sense of comfort. I can tell them that they're going to a safe place for the night," said Garnett.

Alexei Alexandrov/The Associated Press
Alexei Alexandrov/The Associated Press

Garnett said he likes the feeling of helping those in need.

As the war between Russia and Ukraine continues to intensify, many people are seeking shelter away from their homes.

More than 100,000 Ukrainian nationals are waiting for visas to come to Canada.

LISTEN | Garnett spoke with host Garth Materie on The Afternoon Edition:

Garnett said he has been letting people know he came all the way from Canada to help.

"You see the smile on their face when they see that, in that moment, they feel like the world is with them," said Garnett.

The experience over here is … it's emotionally heavy. - Michael Garnett

He has started a GoFundMe page to "spend money on people," as most have come across the border with little to nothing.

Garnett said he met another Canadian volunteer who had received a donation of $1,500. They used the money to buy 50 suitcases and delivered them to a shelter.

He is scheduled to return to Canada soon, but has not booked a flight yet and may extend his stay.

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