The southwest may have an influx of new faces from Ukraine in the next couple of weeks.
It was recently announced that there will be a flight arriving from Europe with families and individuals from Ukraine who are looking to live somewhere safe while their home is currently undergoing a human itarian crisis due to the illegal invasion being conducted by Russia.
Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre Executive Director, Icasiana de Gala, expects to see quite a few members from this arriving party to be coming their way.
"When all this started, we're thinking we would see ten families because we didn't have a huge Ukrainian newcomer population," explained de Gala. "In 2018 we did have a huge Ukrainian population, but a lot of them left."
As groups tend to seek out their own ethnicities when they travel to a new place, southwest Saskatchewan wasn't expecting many Ukrainians to arrive, expecting them to head for areas with a higher population of Ukrainian communities.
"Prior to the war in Ukraine, we really didn't have that many families here," continued de Gala. "Now we have exceeded that. We've registered 40 adults and these are the ones that just got connected with us. There might be some that were missed and the 40 adults of course have children not included [in that count]. This has exceeded the ten families we expected."
While the ongoing circumstances that have brought them to Canada are terrible, it is hopeful that they will find a welcoming, supportive community here in the southwest that will embrace them and their needs.
"The first family that we met only had one luggage with them," revealed de Gala. "Some basic needs like clothing that we could provide and fresh a start has been really great in helping out our Ukrainian friends."
Some local businesses were able to contribute food, shelter and supplies to the arriving families who first came after the war started, showing support for those arriving in Swift Current and the southwest.
The Russo-Ukrainian War has been officially ongoing since 2014, with a full-scale invasion by Russia into Ukraine starting on February 24, 2022. The fighting since the full-scale invasion began has been intense, displacing many families across the country, mostly in the western regions.
Many nations have been working with the Ukrainian Government and various humanitarian aid groups to help find shelter and homes for the people who have had to flee theirs. This group is expected to arrive in Saskatchewan on August 10, carrying nearly 230 new Ukrainian citizens. The Government of Saskatchewan has partnered with both Open Arms and Solidaire humanitarian groups on this project.
Over 270,000 Ukrainians have filled out applications for entry into Canada since the start of the conflict, with over 125,000 being approved as of June 1.