How some in Saskatoon are working to send displaced Ukrainian kids to summer camp
The school year is winding down but staff at Saskatchewan’s only Ukrainian school are thinking about the summer ahead for displaced Ukrainian kids.
Staff at Saskatchewan’s only Ukrainian school are busy working to arrange camp experiences for displaced Ukrainian kids.
Bishop Filevich Ukrainian Bilingual School has received 60 students who have fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
While most parents think about how they are going to occupy their children for two months, for displaced Ukrainian children, the camps are even more critical for the displaced children, according to the school's principal.
"That impact of socialization, language use, education, it goes beyond measure what a camp experience will do for a child,” Stacia Horbay-Ugalde told CTV News.
“One could be strangers one week and by the end of that week they are a friend that you can rely on them as well,” she said.
They’re getting the opportunity to experience summer camp and being with other kids which is one of the common goals for the children.
“I will play with my friends and eat,” new Grade 5 student, Ivanna Chudiiovych, from Kyiv, Ukraine said.
And for Emil Kariev who is from the southern city of Zaporizhia, camp is also about the opportunity to expand his friend group which is small at the moment.
“I don’t have or know very many friends, and it’s boring at home,” he said.
Kariev who is in Grade 8, is looking forward to meeting new kids his own age at camp so he can get to know others in Saskatchewan.
Part of the funding to send these students to camp is coming from community organizations like Vesna Festival which had its event in May and donated $5000 to the school to send the kids to camp.
“This year we were able to raise a lot of money at our festival and we’ve decided to give back to Ukrainian kids coming to our city and what better way to do it than send them to camp,” said Victor Iula from the festival's board of directors.
“Vesna Festival started years ago as a family event geared toward kids and youth and we are continuing the legacy of promoting family by donating to Ukrainian children displaced by the war,” Andy Smycniuk, past chair said..
St. Paul’s United Church donated handmade quilts for the young newcomers.
"There isn’t a heart that hasn't been touched that’s walked through our doors,” Horbay-Ugalde said of the widespread support for the kids.
“Things are busy. We have an incredible team in the building, from caretaking staff to admin, to front end staff to teachers, to assistants everybody is stepping up and more,” Horbay-Ugalde said.
Providing a smooth transition for these kids is key - some of whom have come from the hardest-hit areas in Ukraine like the city of Bucha, but so far this crew likes their welcome.
“Saskatoon is very good, very cool, very cool, yes,” Chudiiovych said.
The school is expecting another rush of students in the fall. However, the exact number isn't yet known.