Edmonton volunteers welcome second wave of Ukrainian arrivals
More than 500 people from Ukraine are arriving in Alberta each week
Volunteers with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Edmonton say they're facing a second wave of arrivals from war-torn Ukraine.
"The numbers have increased, over 500 a week are arriving to Alberta and about 32 per cent of those people are coming to Edmonton," says Orysia Boychuk, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alberta Provincial Council.
Many of the others — about 42 per cent — are headed to Calgary, Boychuk says.
Currently there are an estimated 10,500 recent Ukrainian arrivals in Alberta. People started arriving right after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.
Arrivals slowed in August before numbers increased in September. Boychuk says numbers are expected to remain higher over the next two months.
With the summer travel season over, cheaper flights are now accessible to Alberta. Boychuk says a program called Miles for Migrants is also bringing more people to our province.
Last weekend, community volunteers held a drive to collect furniture, hoping to give people arriving a more comfortable new beginning.
"A mattress, a couch, a kitchen table and some dresser drawers just to get them started," says Boychuk.
You can see more from the Ukrainian Furniture Warehouse on Our Edmonton on Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at noon and 11 a.m. on CBC TV and CBC Gem.
But furniture takes up space. Enter the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Lodge 146 and a 23,000 square-foot warehouse.
"We decided we would donate $10,000 of our union funds to the war relief efforts," says Hugh MacDonald, business manager for Boilermakers 146.
When MacDonald and some others from the union local went to drop off the cheque, they realized the small size of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress office. That prompted them to offer up their space to store items.
The Boilermakers Lodge has a warehouse as part of its training centre for members in the welding and boilermaker trades. The union donated space in the building to help store furniture and other household goods.
"The efforts of the Ukrainian community of northern Alberta do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. You just have to wander in here yourself and you can see the good work they're doing," said MacDonald, a former Liberal MLA. "So if we can help them we will."
- Alberta announces increased aid program, child-care subsidy for arriving Ukrainians
- Ukrainian scholars able to keep working with new funding initiative at University of Alberta
- Alberta's Ukrainian community comes together to support each other, family overseas
Alberta has longstanding ties to Ukraine, with close to 400,000 people of Ukrainian descent. This week the provincial government pledged an additional $10 million to humanitarian aid, bringing the total commitment to date to $23 million.
Recent arrival Vledyslav Boluban now volunteers regularly at the warehouse — moving, sorting and distributing donated furniture.
"We came here just three months ago, with a few bags and a few things with us, and this warehouse helped us at the beginning significantly," he says. "Now we're trying to help other people."
Boluban has been watching furniture get snapped up almost as fast as it's coming in.
Donations from the public are being accepted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m.
The warehouse is closed for the Thanksgiving weekend.