As the war in Ukraine continues, we continue to support both those in the frontline and refugees fleeing to Canada.
It has been over 40 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, but for many Ukrainians, the war started in 2014 with the taking of Crimea, and the tumultuous history between the two countries goes back over a hundred years. It's impossible to avoid the horror stories from the frontlines; but there are also harrowing and heartwarming stories of people coming together to provide support from all angles.
In talking to Ukrainians, including Aangen’s Finance Director, Oksana Kandiller, we wanted to get a better understanding on how people in Ukraine, its bordering countries, and within Canada have been helping one another. Oksana described how Ukrainian families, including her own, have been taking in other Ukrainians who have been displaced. With this kindness, refugees have time to rest while they figure out what's next— some choosing to fight, others choosing to escape to nearby countries. To watch the CBC coverage of Oksana and her family, click here.
For others, like Oksana’s sister, mother and nieces, this means coming to Canada. The culture shock that comes with fleeing to a foreign nation, combined with the struggles of finding a job, shelter and childcare brings intense stress. Additionally, the Ontario government is not doing enough. Ukrainians coming to Canada are not given immediate shelter or housing, instead being provided with a work permit. Because of this, they are unable to receive OHIP upon arrival. To qualify, they must have a work permit and be working full time, live in Ontario for 153 days, and make Ontario their primary residence. Meeting these requirements is very stressful, both mentally and physically, especially for people who are experiencing extreme trauma already.
To help make the process smoother, communities of Canadians and Canadian-Ukrainian citizens are working together to help, especially since most of the families arriving are mothers and their children who need shelter, daycare, food and clothing. For example, Oksana’s nieces were given donated uniforms to attend their new schools and quickly return to a state of normalcy.
For those unable to provide monetary support, we are asking you to contact your MPs using this template created by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. It outlines the direct needs of Ukrainians arriving in Canada, including a 90 day integration period that provides shelter, food, and other essentials; the implementation of a departure and arrival plan; and providing federal support for settlement agencies to help Ukrainians with their orientation to Canada. You can find your local MP here.
For those who want to provide monetary support, many organisations are accepting donations, including Unicef and The Red Cross. Other ways to support individual Ukrainians include purchasing AirBnB stays and experiences in heavily bombed Ukrainian cities without the intention to arrive. This gives income support to the AirBnB host. Currently, AirBnB is not charging additional hosting fees in Ukraine, so this is an excellent way to help families directly. Other ways include purchasing from Ukrainian Etsy stores, especially buying digitally downloadable products.
Aangen is also assisting in any way possible—not only to Ukrainians coming to Canada, but for those in the midst of the war as well. Since the first few days of the war Aangen has been fundraising to send our All Dried Up soups to Ukraine. All Dried Up soups do not require a stove or full kitchen, are easily shippable, and are nutritionally-dense. In that respect, our soups are good for frontline soldiers, hospitals and refugees at the borders.
Currently, we have raised over $7,600—that equates to over 1300 servings of ADU. We continue to accept donations for future shipments here. We are currently organizing a pop-up donation centre. If you have clothing, home goods or things you would like to donate please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are keeping Ukraine and its citizens in our thoughts, and will continue to update this post as additional means of support become available.