Winnipeg’s mayor says he wants Ukrainians fleeing conflict to know that the city will welcome them with open arms.
Brian Bowman said Thursday that he’s written to counterparts at both the provincial and federal levels to let them know the Manitoba capital will take in any refugees trying to come to Canada.
“Throughout our history as a community, we’ve welcomed those who are escaping conflict, who do want to call Canada home,” Bowman said.
“We want to make sure Winnipeg’s doors are wide open for those who are fleeing war and conflict around the world.
“Canadian cities are going to be primarily where those who come from Ukraine to Canada are going to want to reside, and we want to make sure that Winnipeg is amongst the options for those that do look to move to Canada.”
Bowman says the city’s welcome and inclusion policies will help refugees access necessary services and help them navigate the city when they arrive.
The mayor’s comments come after federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced expedited temporary visas for emergency travel — giving Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country a safe haven in Canada.
Bowman’s office also announced it’s sending $10,000 in support to Winnipeg’s sister city of Lviv, Ukraine.
The funds, which come from the mayor’s office budget, are intended to go directly to people temporarily displaced in Lviv.
The sister city relationship between Winnipeg and Lviv was established almost 50 years ago.
Ostap Skrypnyk, Manitoba vice-president for the Canada Ukraine Foundation, told Global News the people coming to Canada will likely represent a wide cross-section of the Ukrainian population.
“I think there’s going to be people who are just destitute, there’s going to be people who have family and friends here that they can rely on. There’s been there’s going to be people who don’t,” he said.
“There’s going to be people who are self-sufficient. There’s an entire range of of of activities. So it’s going to be a lot of individual responses to individual needs, and that’s fine.”
Skrypnyk said his organization is working on how to mobilize the enthusiasm in the community and find the best ways to help in the weeks leading up to Ukrainians fleeing war to actually touch down on Canadian soil.
“Because there’s the war going on, there’s lots of needs for people inside Ukraine still. And then of course, there’s this question of how to help people who have been displaced by the war and have had to leave Ukraine,” he said
“So right now, the first need, of course, is to help people in Ukraine because there’s still an awful lot of work to do there and they’ll be a lot of work for years to come.
“And then, of course, now there’s this new wrinkle. People will be coming here. So it’s lots of different approaches, lots of groups trying to help, lots of people just doing things on their own. And it’s it’s great, gratifying a lot of support from down from non-Ukrainians in Manitoba, which we really appreciate. So we’re working on many fronts, as we say.”