A plane carrying children with critical medical needs arrived in Canada from Ukraine last week, a joyous sight to those who made it happen.
“I was over the moon, elated when Steve told me they landed,” says Kingston resident Jim Hamilton.
The medical evacuation from Ukraine was made possible by Hamilton, a Queen’s University professor, and Steve Day, a retired military member and the president of Reticle Ventures.
The pair worked with non-profit organization Aman Lara that evacuates people at risk from nations in crises and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto to remove five children and their families from the war-torn country.
“The medical piece was always front of mind because the kids needed to get to a point where they could get their treatment resumed,” says Day. “Their treatment was interrupted as they extracted themselves out of Ukraine.”
While Day worked with volunteers and first responders on the ground in Poland, Hamilton secured donors.
Richard Hamm, a former Queen’s grad and the CEO of Bristol Gate Capital Partners, funded the first evacuation mission while the Canada-Ukraine Foundation funded the second.
President of the Ukrainian Canadian Club of Kingston Lubomyr Luciuk assisted the operation by connecting the organizers with the Canadian-Ukrainian congress.
“The plans are still vague in the sense that housing support, support of accommodations, for meals, for schools, for child care, for health care, all that stuff is not there yet and that needs to be done,” Luciuk says.
With more women and children needing out of Ukraine, he’s calling on the government to give refugee status instead of working temporary visas to those fleeing.
A third evacuation mission is underway to get more children to SickKids.
Meanwhile, 10 Ukrainian students were given grants on Monday night out of a Kingston charity called the Mayor’s fund that will allow them to continue living, working and studying in Kingston.