Special to Black Press
Some 600,000 Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion have been issued Canadian Ukrainian Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) visas but have not yet been able to come to Canada.
That solitary fact, based upon figures issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, is mind-numbing.
After more than 18 months of accepting Ukrainian newcomers to the North Island (Comox Valley and Campbell River), we currently have 69 households/families made up of 119 adults and 64 children and teens. Most of these newcomers are currently living on their own, moving on from their initial host families, working at meaningful jobs with their children in school or college. Ukrainians once again have demonstrated their resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. With the assistance of a plethora of community players with the Comox Valley Ukrainian Cultural Society (CVUCS) taking the lead, including the Immigrant Welcome Centre, many service clubs and churches (too many to mention) and with local governments and businesses, the North Island communities have collectively made a significant difference in the lives of 183 newcomers from Ukraine.
However, time is running out for future Ukrainian families who must arrive before March 2024 to be eligible for entry to Canada. Federal government one-time-only financial assistance is also tied to that date. No one knows how many more newcomers will arrive. What we do know is that the need will exceed the funding currently available from the Province of BC through the Refugee Readiness Network. It enabled the CVUCS to hire a Ukrainian integration co-ordinator. Without that coo-rdinator, who is fluent in Ukrainian, Russian and English, the intricate needs of newcomers will be missed, and their settlement progress will be handicapped. Current funds are contracted only to March 31, 2024.
Additional volunteers are required to support the families arriving in the future. If you can host a family or provide affordable housing, contact Help Ukraine Vancouver Island at https://ukrainehelpvi.ca. If you can offer volunteer assistance with driving, food security, conversational English, social events, host support or job matching, please contact the Comox Valley Ukrainian Cultural Society (CVUCS) at 250-792-0646. No amount of assistance is too small.
Donations and financial support are essential to enable ongoing support for families to transition to their new homes and qualify for permanent residency status in Canada. The CVUCS still needs the generous assistance from the community. To that end, two fundraising concerts, Still Standing With Ukraine have been scheduled for the Comox Valley on September 21st at the Sid Williams Theatre and in Campbell River on September 23rd at the Tidemark Theatre. The CVUCS has partnered with the Ukraine Nightingale Project to feature the Calgary-based Tryzub Junior Ukrainian Dance Troupe and soloist Ihor Bohdan. For more information and for tickets to attend an evening of high energy talented entertainment, please go to: