As various agencies helped the latest group of displaced Ukrainians get settled in Saskatchewan on Friday, the province was promising more planes will soon be on the way.
Less than 48 hours after they touched down in Regina, dozens of people fleeing the war in Ukraine were getting their new lives in order at a city hotel. It was described as "one-stop shopping" for them to get the documents they would need right away.
There were booths set up so they could get their social insurance numbers and apply for health cards. A number of financial institutions were also on hand, helping the new arrivals set up bank accounts.
"When I came to Canada at first I thought we would have be left here and no one would help us," Sofia Buriachenko, 15, said. "Now I see all this — it's great and I can't explain it."
The Grade 9 student says her family initially wanted to go to Winnipeg but were offered the flight to Regina and could not refuse.
We want to help people who want to stay here and want to make our own community where people can meet, drink some coffee and speak about everything in our native language.
- Maria Chaikovska
In addition to government agencies and corporations, volunteers such as Maria Chaikovska and Valentyn Stoliarchuk were at the hotel event Friday to welcome the newcomers.
The couple, who host a weekly meet-up with other Ukrainians at the Regina Public Library, say they are happy to help those settling in Regina make the adjustments they have already made.
"We want to help people who want to stay here, and want to make our own community where people can meet, drink some coffee and speak about everything in our native language," Chaikovska said.
"We shouldn't forget about where we are from. Our language, our culture — nowadays it's one of the most important things for us."
The couple are among the more than 1,500 Ukrainians who have arrived in Saskatchewan since the war began.
Hundreds more on their way
Also on hand was Premier Scott Moe, who signed an memorandum of understanding with Solidaire and Open Arms, two international humanitarian organizations. Under the agreement, a total of five flights, including those that arrived Wednesday and on July 4, will bring more than 1,000 Ukraine citizens to the province from Warsaw, Poland by March 31, 2023.
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Giving newcomers a warm welcome and a helping hand is the Saskatchewan way, the premier said.
The pilot and founder of Solidaire, Enrique Pinyero, says the agreement signed Friday with the Saskatchewan government is unique.
"We don't have any agreement with any [other] government in the world," he said. "I think that will set a standard in that eventually make other governments think — not only provincial governments but state governments — [about] their obligations to accept refugees."