We have a catastrophe that is now landing at our doorstep here in Oak Bay and across Canada. War-torn refugees from Ukraine, mainly women and children, are landing in Victoria this week. Some of us have offered temporary accommodation with meals in our homes. These are strangers in need and we welcome them to safety.
Having seen the ravages of this brutal war, many are quick to help. However, this help is extended on a temporary measure to quickly save the lives of many. In our instance, we are working hard to ensure a smooth landing for the two refugees we will be supporting, a mother and her 11-year-old daughter. They are arriving from Odessa, which is currently being bombed. The city’s port and fuel storage facility have been demolished, people’s homes are being bombed and they are being murdered.
Refugees have to leave husbands back in Ukraine fighting for democracy. These refugees will be a valuable additions to Canada.
We as Canadians are shocked to discover there is nothing in place from the federal government. They encourage them to come, then provide no money to help them find jobs or housing – also no cell phones, bus passes, personal hygiene products – why did they invite them?
I have heard Oak Bay owns two homes that have been used in past for Syrian refugees, but are now vacant. Stable, affordable housing is needed. A solution is right at our doorstep. We need to use these homes to house Ukrainian women and children refugees. The need is urgent. I understand the community is working on a plan, but until that is in place I would like mayor and council to think about helping Ukrainian refugees in this way.