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Sicamous residents to welcome family fleeing Ukraine

Gift cards suggested as a way to support arriving refugees
Members of a Ukrainian family fleeing their home country are expected to soon arrive in Sicamous. Efforts are underway in the community to support them through this transition. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

Support is being sought to welcome members of a family fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Bob Evans, a District of Sicamous councillor and pastor with the Shuswap Community Church, said the Ukrainian refugees are expected to arrive soon. They’ll be staying with a relative who lives in the area.

“There’s a place for them to live for now… they’re basically coming with a backpack each,” said Evans, noting he couldn’t provide any further information about the refugees yet due to privacy concerns.

Evans said gift cards would be useful so the family can get what they need.

“It’s important I think for people to be able to go buy their own stuff, what they need, what they want, rather than be handed stuff,” he said.

Eventually, the family may also be in need of alternative accommodation.

“They’re moving into a place that will work for the interim, but we are going to be looking for some permanent housing for them,” said Evans.

Read more: B.C. premier urges patience as Ukraine refugees head for Canada

Read more: Vernon family plans for Ukrainian refugee arrival as Russia presses on into country

After Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Feb. 24, Evans said he was looking for a way to do something to help. A couple months back he received an email about the refugees that were applying to come to Canada, to stay in Sicamous, and saw it as an opportunity.

“It’s a good way for us to actually help a real person in real time… instead of just, like, what do you do in the big picture,” said Evans.

Once the family is settled, Evans said there may be an effort to bring another family to the area. Again, a housing option will be needed.

“They’re going to arrive and they’re going to have to get on their feet and get jobs and everything like that,” said Evans. “They’re probably not going to be able to afford all the rent themselves. At least some kind of subsidized solution.”

Evans said an account has been set up with SASCU for donations to support the arriving family.

On June 2, the Government of Canada announced it was making transitional financial assistance available to Ukrainians arriving in Canada. A one-time payment of $3,000 will be available per adult, and $1,500 per child (17 and under).

“These funds will help Ukrainian nationals and their family members meet their basic needs—such as transportation and longer-term housing—as they arrive in communities across Canada and find a job,” said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser in a media release.

The government is also offering settlement services to help Ukrainians adjust to their new life in Canada. Settlement services include language training, information about and orientation to life in Canada (such as help with enrolling children in school or opening a bank account) and information and services to help find a job.
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