Woolwich Township to donate $10K to humanitarian relief in Ukraine
Township will donate funds to Mennonite Central Committee's efforts
Woolwich Township will donate $10,000 to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Council voted this week to donate the funds to the Mennonite Central Committee, drawing them from an anticipated year-end surplus.
"It's a gift of love and the impact of that gift on the people of Ukraine will not be lost," Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCC), said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.
MCC recently decided to evacuate their North American staff from Ukraine, though Cober Bauman said, the charitable organization is still working closely with local partners and anticipates humanitarian need will be massive.
"Trauma from this military invasion is going to be severe, and then there will be temporary food, temporary shelter, blankets, hopefully locally purchased," he said.
Cober Bauman said in the past, MCC has shipped meat canned in Elmira, Ont., and locally made blankets to Ukraine, something he said he hopes will begin again.
"All of those are going to be so welcome as soon as we have the level of stability to know we can actually deliver," he said.
He said, though MCC has longstanding ties to Ukraine, the volatile situation in the country makes it difficult to say exactly how the organization will structure its response.
"Really it's a war zone, there's a lot of uncertainty," he said. "We're just glad that we have partners we trust and established relationships, so that as soon as they are able to function again and funds can move, we'll be able to make a significant response for displaced people in Ukraine."
Not unanimously supported
Woolwich Coun. Murray Martin put forward the motion to provide funding to MCC.
"I don't know in my lifetime that I've ever seen anything of this type of aggression into a country that we're seeing now," Martin told his fellow councillors. "I can't believe what it would be like living there."
Mayor Sandy Shantz and three other councillors supported the motion, while councillor Scott McMillan abstained, explaining there were people displaced by war in other countries and the township had not donated to those efforts.
"My heart breaks for the Ukrainian people and my heart breaks for all the Canadians of Ukrainian descent," McMillan said. "But I don't know how we get to choose the Ukrainians over all that other list of people that have been woken up by the exact same bombs, the exact same air raid sirens, by the exact same type of invading force and occupying force."
In response, Coun. Patrick Merlihan said council was not prioritizing Ukraine over other humanitarian crises, rather it was making a donation to a charitable organization, whose work it has supported in various countries.
"There's a narrative going around about, 'how dare we wake up because Ukrainians are white like us and there are all sorts of atrocities in the world,'" he said. "I get that, but this is not out of character for Woolwich Township to support MCC and to give them a little bit of money that will go a long way."