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'They’ve come together as a larger Ukrainian family': Ukrainian refugees finding support in small Sask. centres

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As Saskatchewan welcomed the fifth and final flight of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their country, volunteers across the province were getting ready for the influx. In particular, smaller communities across the province have been hoping to entice newcomers to their areas.

Two hundred and thirty Ukrainians arrived in Regina Monday. While some will stay in that city and some will head to Saskatoon, smaller cities like Prince Albert have been actively recruiting too.

“Fifty-four families have arrived, and those 54 families are now connecting. Although they’ve come from different parts of Ukraine they’ve come together as a larger Ukrainian family,” Sonya Jhan, settlement volunteer in Prince Albert told CTV News.

There’s a similar situation in North Battleford where 31 families have arrived since last spring.

In Humboldt, there are 15 families who are getting translation support in addition to much more.

Many Ukrainian families are enjoying settling in smaller space in Saskatchewan. (Humboldt Regional Newcomers Centre )

“I go into the banks with newcomers, schools and any kind of doctor appointments,” Yuliya Cadrain, Humboldt Regional Newcomer Centre told CTV News.

Cadrain admits finding accommodation in the smaller centres is easier and rent is cheaper, which is appealing along with small-town support. Posts asking for help on Facebook get a quick response, something she says is easier to pull off in a smaller place.

“Posts looking for furniture or tables get an answer and comments right away. Beds or kitchen table, and you get a response. I have this, I can deliver. It’s amazing,” she said.

Jobs in all these smaller cities are abundant, according to those we reached out to, which is the other big draw.

“We certainly have many employment opportunities that there will be plenty of work. As of the beginning of this year, we’ve had over 500 employment opportunities in PA and surrounding areas alone,” she says.

The Ukrainian newcomers' group in Prince Albert has also been working to establish a Ukrainian preschool program, which will attract young families.

“Because of the economic gains that families can gain by living in a smaller centre, PA would be a place of choice,” she says.

Ukrainians coming to these centres are finding employment quickly. Part of the reason, according to Cadrain is that in Ukraine there are few social supports, so these newcomers are used to fending for themselves. Language isn’t as big of a barrier either since word of mouth has gotten around about the good work Ukrainians are doing, she said. Translation apps are helping out also, and those who had little English initially are learning it quickly through classes offered through the community or online courses.

“The other employers who already hired Ukrainians are sharing their experience that Ukrainian workers are fast learners,” she said.

With the latest group of displaced Ukrainians now on Saskatchewan soil, recruiters are hoping to see some of the newcomers try out life in their smaller communities.  

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