Work to settle Ukrainian refugees begins after plane arrives in Sask.

·2 min read
Ukraine refugees cross the tarmac after arriving at Regina's airport Monday. (Laura Sciarpeletti/CBC - image credit)
Ukraine refugees cross the tarmac after arriving at Regina's airport Monday. (Laura Sciarpeletti/CBC - image credit)

On Monday evening, 230 Ukrainian refugees stepped off a plane at the Regina airport and into their new lives in Canada.

The plane, which flew direct from Warsaw, Poland, carried people displaced from their homes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"It's a really proud day," said MLA Terry Dennis, the legislative secretary responsible for Saskatchewan-Ukraine relations, at the airport.

"It's been a long time. We've had one or two [flights] redirected and it's finally come to fruition."

Over the next several days, all of the new arrivals will be directed to housing, language training and eventually employment services.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan has been working for the last several months on the logistics of providing services to the newly arrived refugees.

Congress president Elena Krueger told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition that 100 of the people on the plane were children.

"I tried to put myself in the shoes of of their parents and those mothers on the plane and thinking what they must be feeling," Krueger said.

"Anticipation and perhaps even a little bit of trepidation — what will it be like to to live in this new country? But then also a feeling, I'm sure, of relief to be somewhere safe."

For now, all of the people from the flight are being housed in dorm rooms at the University of Regina. Once their basic needs are met, the new arrivals are expected to be placed in towns and cities across the province.

Krueger noted that more than 13 per cent of Saskatchewan's population is estimated to have Ukrainian ancestry.

New future

Regina's Ukrainian Canadian Co-op, which was opened in 1937 by Ukrainian immigrants, is already preparing to hire some of the newly arrived people.

"This store has always had strong ties to the Ukrainian community. That's why it's here," said general manager Carla Rodgers.

"I was quite ecstatic and very happy to hear that it's finally going to get here and that people are finally arriving."

Rodgers said the store has several spots currently open in its sausage making and meat cutting department.

Meanwhile, the Regina Open Door Society said it plans on helping the newly arrived people like every other newcomer it works with, by offering language training and employment services.

While the society said it's important to financially support groups like the Ukrainian Congress, a spokesperson said it's even more important for people to reach out to the newcomers themselves.

"If you have a new neighbour who is from Ukraine or if your kids get a new classmate, get to know them and hear their stories," said spokesperson Victoria Flores.

"Make sure that they feel like this is this is their new home. We're welcoming neighbours."

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