Wheatland County resident opens her home to two Ukrainian families

·3 min read

A Wheatland County resident has opened her home to two Ukrainian families who had been seeking refuge from the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Jennifer Fraser said she wanted to do something to help where she could and was not content with sitting idle and doing nothing for the families in need.

“I wanted to be more involved, and I wanted to know that what I was doing was truly helping out somebody,” said Fraser. “I live in a 100-year-old farmhouse, so, of course it’s massive. I’ve got this huge house … and I have room to spare. We wanted to make our house as welcoming as possible and give these people some serenity after the horrors that they witnessed at the war.”

Reaching out originally through social media, Fraser said she would take in two families who are good with dogs.

Upon the families’ arrival, Fraser was able to begin employing her guests at Paradise Kennels, a canine boarding facility that she owns and operates, while the families’ settled and the paperwork was dealt with.

Fraser, nor her family, have any Ukrainian background and do not speak the language. The two families staying with her, with the exception of one of the children, do not speak English.

“I thought if I brought in a Ukrainian family, if I brought in two, then at least they would be able to talk and have some connection with home,” said Fraser. “You don’t need to be Ukrainian to help out. It didn’t matter where they were coming from, I have a home and I’ve got time to help out and I’ve got work for them and whoever wanted to come and be a part of my family. They were welcome.”

After a somewhat one-sided discussion with her family, the household went from that of six, to that of 13 upon the arrival of the Frasers’ guests.

After struggling to get the paperwork and logistics sorted with the Government of Canada regarding the families’ immigration, Fraser explained it took less than two weeks for the household to adjust and settle into a groove.

The experience since, although challenging has been one of great reward. Fraser is recommending anyone who is able to spare the means to apply to host a family.

“There are a lot of families who are being displaced. They have lost their homes, they have lost everything. I was seeing the stories and it tugged at my heartstrings and I was just emotionally attached,” said Fraser. “Absolutely open your home up to people in need. The benefits of helping out someone, it’s just like the Grinch, it makes your heart grow bigger … there’s an order to which you need to do things, but once you’ve figured out that order, you’re laughing.”

Resources for those thinking about potentially hosing a family can be found online via Facebook, or through a host of various support sites.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times