Fundraising dinner to be held in Prince Rupert to support Ukrainian Refugees

The Prince Rupert community is invited to support Ukrainian refugees in an evening of eating, drinking and singing on Nov. 5, announced the Rupert Society for Refugee Support (RSRS).

The event was sparked when a few already-landed refugee women in Prince Rupert wanted to show their gratitude for the hospitality the community has shown them by cooking a meal.

The society thought it would be a good opportunity to fundraise as well, Ray Pedersen co-founder of RSRS said.

The money from ticket sales will be used to sponsor and buy plane tickets for more refugee families tp travel to Prince Rupert.

“We’ve brought in 11 adults and nine kids so far through this organization,” Pedersen said.

He explained how each family is having a different experience with the adjustment, some easier than others.

A Ukrainian woman who was a branch manager for several banks in her home country is now working as a cleaner because she does not speak English very well, which has been a difficult change, he said.

Even those who are settling into their new environment more easily still have to watch and hear about the horrors that are happening back in their home country.

Pedersen explained the tragedy of events is still affecting newcomers every day. One lady was upset just a few days ago because the Russians were attacking her home city with drones and ammunition bringing the reality to war to people in Prince Rupert.

“It’s very surrealistic for us and very far away for us, but it’s very real for them still. They’re still being attacked by the Russians right now,” he said.

The RSRS started out as a grassroots citizen group to help Syrian refugees relocate to the city several years ago. The group pivoted to include all refugees in their scope following the announcement of the war in Ukraine.

“We’ve just been raising money to send them plane tickets … Just help them out with the travel costs. Then when they get here we get them set up with employment and places to live.”

They also help families enroll their children into local schools.

“I think that a lot of us, including my family, were refugees not too long ago. I think that we have a motto — we can, we should, we will — and it’s our turn really to hold that torch and offer that kind of sanctuary to people who are strangers from places that are war-torn,” Pedersen said.

“I’m happy with the number that we’ve been able to bring here so far. I think it’s exceeded my expectations,” he said.

The Ukrainian dinner and evening of entertainment will start at 6 p.m. and go until 10 p.m. at the Highliner Hotel ballroom. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased online through the Lester Centre of the Arts’ ticket site.

Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View