Cities of Quebec, non-profit organizations prepare to welcome Ukrainian refugees – Montreal
The Canadian government is expediting immigration for an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 2.1 million people have fled the war in Ukraine so far.
Preparing for a potential influx of people looking for new housing, organizations and cities across Quebec are preparing services for their eventual arrival.
More than a million children have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion, according to UNICEF
“They will need a lot of help because they did not choose to leave their country,” said Roxanne Bourgault, reception coordinator at CARI St-Laurent.
The non-profit organization for immigrants has worked with Ukrainians before and they are ready to do it again.
“We are trying to prepare at all levels,” said Nisrin Al Yahya, general manager of CARI St-Laurent.
CARI St-Laurent employees have experience working with people fleeing war-torn countries. They don’t know when the Ukrainians will arrive, but say they don’t expect Canada to welcome refugees for a few months based on past experience.
“We hope to be able to receive these people as soon as possible because we know… every day and every hour counts for these people,” said Jocelyn Chouinard, Deputy Director of CARI St-Laurent.
The humanitarian crisis is worsening in Ukraine
According to the Union of Municipalities of Quebec, 14 cities wish to welcome Ukrainians. These include Montreal, Quebec, Trois-Rivières, Laval, Longueuil, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Granby, Victoriaville, Joliette, Saint-Hyacinthe, Drummondville, Saint-Jérôme and Rimouski.
Laval hopes to welcome up to 2,000 refugees.
“I think it’s our duty, you know, to welcome these people. We are lucky to live in a very prosperous city. So let’s share this chance,” said Laval Mayor Stéphane Boyer.
Ukraine bans exports of wheat, oats and other food staples to ensure supply
Laval is working with community groups and people from the health and education sectors on an action plan. It is even considering housing refugees in hotels left empty by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the meantime, the city has created the email address [email protected] for citizens who want to help.
“We’ve already had people say they can translate, they can give jobs, they’re ready to give some families a home,” Boyer said.
UN says two million people have now fled Ukraine, as West steps up economic pressure on Russia over invasion
Donations are piling up in Ukrainian churches in Montreal. Mayor Valérie Plante visited one in Rosemont on Wednesday.
“From day one, what we’ve done is work with our New Immigrant Integration Office. That’s really the function of the office, to support people coming to Montreal,” Plante said.
Whenever Ukrainians arrive, she says there will be no shortage of solidarity.
“We have such a big Ukrainian community that we can welcome them with open arms and big hearts because that’s what they need right now,” Plante said.
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