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New West organizations team up to support Ukrainian crisis response

What's happening in New West to support the Ukrainian crisis?
Perogy dinner Holy Eucharist Ukraine
Parish members from Holy Eucharist Cathedral serve up dinner at the Perogies for Peace fundraiser on March 26.

Local organizations are joining forces to support the Ukrainian community during the current crisis.

Coun. Chinu Das attended the March 11 meeting of the Welcoming and Inclusive New Westminster Local Immigrant Partnership Council (WINS LIP), where she questioned how the city and WINS LIP could support the Ukrainian community.

“The WINS committee has so many non-profits and immigrant-serving agencies, and everybody was talking about what they could do, what they couldn’t do – and it felt like there was need for some sort of coordination within that group,” Das told council Monday night. “We also talked about things happening in the community which is why I suggested maybe staff should meet with Holy Eucharist.”

City staff met with WINS LIP members and Father Mykhailo Ozorovych of Holy Eucharist Cathedral on March 17 to share information about actions that are underway and to explore opportunities for collaboration and coordination of response efforts.

“The City of New Westminster recognizes the tremendous need for the Ukrainian community both locally and abroad,” Mayor Jonathan Cote said in a news release. “We are proud to work with Holy Eucharist Cathedral and the Welcoming and Inclusive New Westminster Local Immigration Partnership Council to provide additional resources and support wherever we can.”

WINS LIP includes representatives from a variety of organizations, including Fraser Health, Fraserworks Co-op, MOSAIC, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Pacific Immigrant Resource Society and the Welcome Centre.

According to the city, Holy Eucharist Cathedral is acting an informal hub for crisis response in New Westminster and beyond and is collaborating with Ukrainian organizations across B.C. Its work includes providing information to families with relatives in Ukraine, developing a database of offers of support from across the province and managing the Help Us Help Ukraine donation program.

“To date, over 200 households and individuals from across the province have contacted Holy Eucharist Cathedral to offer housing, donations, employment, etc.,” said a March 28 staff report. “There is a need for additional resources and support, and Holy Eucharist Cathedral welcomes collaboration with the city and WINS LIP.”

The city reports that key needs identified by Holy Eucharist Cathedral include, temporary housing, clothing and household items, employment and financial assistance, food security programming, mental health support, language services and child care. Of key importance is a coordinated effort in New Westminster, including understanding who is arriving and what their needs are.

"It is such a great blessing to be part of the New Westminster community that has already so generously responded to the call of standing in solidarity with the much-suffering people of Ukraine,” Ozorovych said in a news release. “Our parish and all fundraising and prayer initiatives have been so widely supported by our neighbours and businesses. We look forward to working together with the plethora of other organizations under the guidance of the city to offer coordinated, concrete effort to help temporarily displaced Ukrainians fleeing to B.C." 

Next steps

The March 28 report to council outlined a series of next steps, which includes establishing a working group that will meet monthly to share information and coordinate response efforts. The city will also assist in raising awareness about the crisis, providing information about resources, listing reputable sites to make a donation, and becoming a host family.

The city’s report also outlined actions that have been taken by the provincial and federal governments in response to the Ukrainians crisis. This includes allowing displaced Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years and to apply for a three-year work permit at the same time as their visa.

At the civic level, the city’s purchasing department has reviewed its current supply chain and confirmed New Westminster doesn’t purchase directly from any Russian Federation company and doesn’t purchase any product manufactured in Russia. The city has also been flying a Ukrainian flag in Friendship Gardens since March 8.

The City of New Westminster hopes to apply the learnings from this working group to future initiatives that involve mobilizing crisis response to support displaced individuals from other regions experiencing conflict.

“I am very, very happy with what I read about the kind of support that is being taken on by this community and all the agencies,” Das said. “I just don’t want anyone to forget about some of the other humanitarian crises we still have. I still get questions from refugees from Afghanistan. So, as much as we are doing this, I just don’t lose sight of everything else that’s happening around the world as well.”


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