Saskatchewan prepares to welcome more Ukrainian refugees

In a little over a week, Saskatchewan will be receiving its fourth flight of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war-torn Ukraine.

“In Saskatchewan here, we are able and fortunate enough to provide a safe place (for people) for the next few months or years,” Immigration and Career Training minister Jeremy Harrison said. “We are proud of the continuous generosity that has been shown by the people of Saskatchewan.”

Read more: Fourth flight for displaced Ukrainians to Saskatchewan announced

The flight is expected to bring over 200 refugees to the province and bring the total number of displaced Ukrainians to have arrived in the province to 2,300.

Elena Krueger, president of the Saskatchewan provincial council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress said the introduction of more Ukrainian immigrants to the province only further deepens the connection we have with Ukraine.

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“We have a very deep and close connection with Ukraine, Kreuger explained. “13 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population identifies as Ukrainian, either as newcomers to Canada or people who have been in Saskatchewan for several generations.”

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has been an instrumental tool for helping displaced immigrants in Saskatchewan find jobs, receive health cars and getting drivers licenses.

“The Ukrainian community in Saskatchewan really tries to offer support to newcomers, whether it’s with language classes, settlement services or assistance with immigration,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Ukrainian troops reclaim Kherson, Russian forces retreat'

Ukrainian troops reclaim Kherson, Russian forces retreat

While Krueger is happy to see more immigrants coming to the province, her mind is also with a Saskatchewan family who’s loved one was recently killed in Ukraine.

Joseph Hildebrand, a 33-year-old from Herbert, Sask. served with the Canadian military in Afghanistan, and recently died serving in Ukraine.

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His family was notified by other members of his unit.

“Our feeling is sorrow for the family, and we offer them our sincere condolences and sympathies,” Kreuger said.  “It’s heartbreaking to hear that someone has lost their family member. We are also grateful for him. We are grateful to him for his service and ultimately his sacrifice. He sacrificed his life for a greater cause and one that is very dear to all of us.”

Kreuger said Hildebrand’s sacrifice is one that won’t be forgotten, as the war continues to rage.

Read more: Saskatchewan career fair for Ukrainian refugees, newcomers held in Regina

“He was there to help,” she said pausing to think. “He saw a need. He saw something that was wrong and unjust. This is a brutal, horrible war imposed by Russia and he wanted to do something about it.”

Krueger hopes whether or not those on the fourth flight decide to stay in Saskatchewan or move back to Ukraine when the time comes, that they feel welcomed during their time here.

“This is a place of welcome,” she said on the verge of tears. “It’s a place of refuge. It’s a place of support. You can count on your neighbours.”

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