With the arrival of another plane full of displaced Ukrainians Tuesday, the Saskatchewan government says more than 2,000 Ukrainians fleeing war have now arrived in the province.
Similar to what was organized by the Saskatchewan government following the first two humanitarian flights to land in Regina, a settlement centre was set up to help the refugees access necessities like bank accounts, health cards and SIN numbers.
This time around, the government’s “one-stop-shop” was set up at the the Wa Wa Shriners Wednesday to Friday to accommodate the approximately 200 Ukrainian citizens who arrived on the flight which was again arranged in coordination with Open Arms and Solidaire.
Viktoria Nikora arrived with her daughter Tuesday.
After breathing a sigh of relief over their first few days in safety, she and her daughter visited the settlement centre Friday afternoon in hopes of getting their new lives underway.
“The first thing is safety and then I will try to find a job to be like people and not feeling like I need help from somebody, we should be strong in trying to start a new life,” she said.
Assisting Nikora and others was Kateryna Klepikova, who fled Ukraine to Saskatchewan back in April by her own means.
Overwhelmed at first, Klepikova says she’s now found employment and is settling into life on the Canadian prairies, and was excited to help those like her navigate the resettlement process.
“It’s very interesting for me to meet new people, interact with them and hear so many stories,” said Klepikova, who is now working as a program assistant at International Women of Saskatoon’s language assessment and referral centre.
“It’s made me very open-minded, learning about what people are going through when they come to Canada. All the stories are so different but similar at the same time,” said Klepikova.
Klepikova also said that the organization she works with helps people with language assessments which is related to what she did in Ukraine where she was studying linguistics and was an English teacher.
“So now, helping people like simplify their way to improve their English here in Canada feels like something I’m supposed to do in this world,” she said.
At the one-stop-shop there were many organizations like Service Canada, Regina Police, Regina Transit, banks, Saskatchewan Health and Regina Open Door Society.
Willow Iorga, who works at the Open Door Society, said the big challenge they are facing is with language services because most Ukrainians that come in don’t speak English and did not plan for this immigration. They provide language courses, settlement classes, and employment services.
“We have a couple of methods of delivery. Because of COVID we have a lot of programs that are still offered online, so they’re able to log into the classes resume and then we also do have some in-person classes which are offered downtown. So it’s pretty central and they’re able to come to the classes downtown,” Iorga said.
She added that there is a lot of support from local employers and the community who have been reaching out to the organization offering help.
“So there’s been a lot of … welcoming with open arms and people trying to share those employment opportunities and things like that. So the transition’s been — for a lot of the people, I think — pretty smooth because of the community support and the employers that they’ve encountered.”
A dedicated government webpage has also been set up, providing guidance for employment, education, housing and other services.