Who is going to tell the Ukrainians that many are waiting for them?

Citizens of the Outaouais have mobilized to welcome more than a hundred Ukrainian refugees, but they do not know where to turn to have their appeal heard.

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“We are about sixty volunteers here ready to receive people and help with anything. We are just waiting for the government,” explains Richard Brisebois, who lives in Wakefield, a village of 700 inhabitants located 30 minutes from Gatineau.

For several weeks, he has been spending his days setting up a support network in his village, but also in Chelsea and Cantley, two neighboring municipalities.

Mr. Brisebois not only mobilized families who could accommodate a total of 140 Ukrainians, but also Ukrainian language interpreters, a French teacher and the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Society, which collects clothing and other essential items.

Ready if they arrive tomorrow

Mr. Brisebois’ objective is to create a community between the Ukrainian families who will settle there.

“We want them to really feel at home and to forget as much as possible what they have just experienced. »

Josée Riopel, who is one of those willing to host Ukrainians, could not stand idly by what she saw on the war.

“We have a big house, so we would have room for two mothers with two children each. If someone arrives tomorrow morning, I’m ready! »

Many members often contact Ukrainian families fleeing the war who are interested in their offer of accommodation. There is no formal matching process yet in their region.

“How do I get the people who greet them at the airport to tell them to come here? It is this link that is not being made at present,” explains Ms. Riopel.

No guarantee

Despite her quest for information, which she finds difficult, she was not guaranteed that she was going to welcome a family.

“I can’t believe I won’t have anyone. There is a terrible housing crisis in Canada,” she says.

Fewer than 5,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war have arrived in Canada, according to federal government data published by Le Journal last week.

Many are following the steps from other countries to come to Canada, while approximately 20,000 requests have been received since the entry into force of the Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization (CUATU).

The City of Montreal as a gateway

Quebecers wishing to welcome Ukrainians into their homes will soon be able to count on an official twinning process on which the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the City of Montreal are working. It will include verification measures to ensure that each match will be secure.

First, those who wish to welcome Ukrainian refugees or help them in other ways can register via a form on their website, as the organization is currently drawing up lists of volunteers.

“The City will give the details of the process this week”, indicates to the Newspaper the President of the Quebec Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Michael Shwec, who received more than 1,000 offers of accommodation across Quebec.

Thus, it is mainly in Montreal that the reception of short-term refugees will take place, because that is where the best resources exist, in particular so that Ukrainians can make themselves understood in their language and so that they can get psychological help.

Then, the other regions of Quebec will be able to get their hands dirty, says Mr. Shwec.

“Of course we will be able and we will want to extend the structures elsewhere,” he said, referring to the many Quebecers outside Montreal who raised their hands to welcome Ukrainians.

Lack of help from Ottawa

Mr. Shwec, however, would like better cooperation from the federal government to facilitate the reception and matching of families, because for the moment he has no means of obtaining information on Ukrainians who are coming to the country before those these do not arrive on Canadian soil.

“On our side, we have to know who is coming, how many are coming,” he said.

The organization also wants to send a delegation from the Ukrainian congress to the border between Ukraine and Poland to disseminate information to refugees.

“We want to provide information on Quebec, on what we offer,” said Mr. Shwec. The poor woman over there who left her husband with her child in her arms, she doesn’t know where she’s going. »

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