Several stakeholders in Moncton’s business community are working together to raise $1 million to help the growing number of Ukrainian refugees on their way to southeastern New Brunswick.
Donors will be able to choose whether they want their money to be used to help resettle Ukrainians in Moncton, for aid in Ukraine, or for other refugee and immigrant needs in the region.
The United Way will be handling the donations and distributing them to front-line organizations like MAGMA, for example, according to Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce CEO John Wishart.
“Any of the front line organizations that have been designated by the federal government to play a role in relief efforts,” Wishart explained in an interview on Wednesday.
He has no doubt they will hit their fundraising goal. “I think we’ll hit one million absolutely, I think one of the biggest challenges that we face is finding housing for Ukrainians and other people. So that’s gonna be the biggest challenge that we’ll have to face and talk about as we go on.”
Despite the difficult road ahead, Moncton Ukrainian Club member Natalia Haidash said on Wednesday that she was overwhelmed with the local support for her people’s plight.
“For me, it’s natural to devote all my time to people in Ukraine because I have a very close connection … so for me, it’s what I should be doing. But for them, stepping in and wanting to help in such a short period of time, it’s such a great contribution,” she said on Wednesday.
Ukrainian-Canadian businessman and campaign honourary co-chair Gordon Lahanky wants Moncton to welcome as many Ukrainians as possible.
“My father had to flee his village at the age of 17 for the same reasons and left it all behind. Here he came to Moncton, a great community as he can attest, very giving,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday. “So it’s gonna be a good place for these newcomers to have their fresh start.”
His sister Danica Lahanky Caroll, who is also a co-chair, said it’s been difficult to watch the news, as they fear for their relatives in Ukraine.
“People are suffering and we need to do whatever we can to help those families, to support them,” she said.
Donations can be made directly or by participating in upcoming fundraiser events.
According to the organizing committee, “a broader, more community-focused” campaign will be announced in the coming weeks.