Larysa Maiboroda, who was living in Kyiv before war broke out, recently arrived in Cranbrook, joining her aunt, Halyna Ishchook. Maiboroda was welcomed into the community during a Sunday night rally in solidarity with Ukraine at Rotary Park. Trevor Crawley photo.

Larysa Maiboroda, who was living in Kyiv before war broke out, recently arrived in Cranbrook, joining her aunt, Halyna Ishchook. Maiboroda was welcomed into the community during a Sunday night rally in solidarity with Ukraine at Rotary Park. Trevor Crawley photo.

Ukrainian relatives arriving in Cranbrook, as volunteer society rallies resources

Efforts are already starting to bear fruit for a local volunteer group working to connect local residents with Ukrainian relatives wanting to come to Canada in the face of Russia’s military invasion.

The newly-formed Shelter for Ukrainians Society has already facilitated the arrival of a mother and two children, while a second group of family members landed in Calgary on Saturday and are en route to the Cranbrook, as they all have relatives living in the area.

Larysa Maiboroda — who was living in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv — has arrived in Cranbrook, joining her aunt, Halyna Ishchook who calls the city home, and was introduced during a weekly rally in solidarity with Ukraine on Sunday at Rotary Park.

Bonnie Spence-Vigne, the board president of the Shelter for Ukrainians Society, says there is a volunteer base of approximately 70 people who are helping coordinate all kinds of resources such as financial fundraising, transportation to the area, finding short and long term accommodations, employment opportunities, school registration and medical support and more.

The society is in the process of putting together teams of volunteers to tackle different aspects of needs and support for anyone coming into the city, said Spence-Vigne.

“We’ve been working really hard to get organized and we are connecting with families over there who have relatives over here already so that was our initial start,” said Spence-Vigne. “And then, as we can help those families and we have the resources then, we can broaden out to help families that just want to come to Cranbrook who may not know people here, but they’ve heard about us.”

The Society has teamed up with the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies to qualify for non-profit status and be registered for Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) charitable benefits, which will allow for donations, tax receipts and stewardship of all donated funds.

All kinds of help and support are welcome, but the biggest need is always with financial donations, Spence-Vigne said.

“For some families, they have the means to get over here and establish themselves, but a lot of families left their homes in such distress, in such a hurry, that they did not get that organized,” she said. “So finances is really big, housing is really big and jobs are really big — those three things.”

Donations to support the Shelter for Ukrainians Society can be made a number of ways with complete instructions on the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies website. Cheques made out to “CFKR” with “Ukraine” in the memo or e-transfers can be made to Lynnette.Wray@CFKRockies.ca noting “Ukraine” while a link to credit card donations (which carry a processing fee) is also available on the CFKR website.

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