Skip to main content

As the first Ukrainians began to arrive in New Brunswick in March and April fleeing the conflict in their homeland, settlement agencies across the province were kicking in to high gear to help them adjust to life in their new home. 

That effort also included Opportunities New Brunswick, the provincial government agency that’s coordinating the welcome for displaced Ukrainian nationals. New Brunswick has more than 3,500 individuals of Ukrainian descent who already chose the “Picture Province” as their new home. 

“We know our province has much to offer newcomers; we’re a safe location, in a beautiful part of the world,” says David Kelly, communications officer with Opportunities New Brunswick. “We have a quality education system, good health care options, and a vibrant business community. We are hopeful Ukrainians will recognize all New Brunswick has to offer and may choose to locate here.” 

Kelly says the province doesn’t have a breakdown of locations where Ukrainians move to after arrival in Canada since the federal government is the organization responsible for entry into Canada. 

In early March, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a special temporary residence pathway for Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada. The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) will allow an unlimited number of Ukrainian nationals to receive a visitor, worker, or student visa valid for up to three years upon arrival in Canada. In addition, Canada will prioritize permanent residency applications submitted under family reunification class for immediate family members who are affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.   

Ukrainian citizens arriving in New Brunswick under the CUAET will be able to apply for permanent residency once they meet the criteria for the selected immigration program. Kelly says there are also other streams available to immigrate to New Brunswick that may be a better fit and Ukraine applicants will be prioritized. Those include the skilled worker, express entry, business immigration, and the strategic initiative for French speakers

The Saint John Newcomers Centre says it has started to welcome the first refugees from the conflict in the port city. Edris Bernard, a settlement advisor and volunteer coordinator, says typically those refugees are mothers and grandparents of people living in the area. 

Bernard says they have mostly been women and children since the Ukrainian government has mandated that men from 18 to 60 must remain in the country to take part in the conflict. She says the centre has a person on staff who speaks Ukrainian and they are dealing with the new arrivals. 

The centre is also working to collect basic household products for the newcomers. Bernard says they have significant storage space at the centre and are also working with Hillcrest Church to gather and store the needed items.  

“Many of the refugees are arriving now were planning on eventually coming to Canada to join their family members, but the conflict has moved up the timetable,” she says. 

As of the first week of May, the Multicultural Association of Fredericton has seen eight families totaling 14 individuals register with their centre. Lisa Bamford De Gante, the organization’s executive director, says six adults have begun language training and one person has found employment in the capital city area. 

De Gante says the Ukrainians arriving are eligible for all of the settlement services her group provides and they are working with the Ukrainian community in the capital to provide a needs assessment for the new arrivals. 

“Right now, we know of nine more families and 25 individuals who are expected to arrive shortly,” she says. “There are two charter flights expected to come to Atlantic Canada.” 

There are Ukrainian communities in all three major cities in the province and both Bernard and De Gante say they’re instrumental in raising funds both to help new arrivals and to send back to Ukraine. The provincial government has donated $100,000 to the National Bank of Ukraine to provide humanitarian aid. 

New Brunswickers who wish to donate to the humanitarian aid effort in Ukraine can do so through the National Bank of Ukraine website. Alternatively, donations can be made through the Canadian Red Cross website or by calling, toll-free, 1-800-418-1111. 

In announcing the donation, Premier Blaine Higgs said, “I cannot imagine how hard it is to watch what is happening, worrying about your family and friends who live there. Know that New Brunswickers, as well as all Canadians, stand with you and the people of Ukraine.” 

The Ukrainian Community of Fredericton has collected medical supplies for shipment to Ukraine since the start of the conflict. There is a network of collection sites throughout the city. The Ukrainian Association of Saint John recently held a seminar helping the new arrivals with the process of budgeting and the cost of living in New Brunswick.  

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Club of Moncton has set up drop-off points throughout that city to collect medications, non-perishable food, hygiene, and other products. E-transfers are also accepted through their website. 

Andy Walker

Andy Walker has been a journalist in PEI for over 30 years. After a career working for both PEI's daily newspapers, covering everything from the provincial legislature to hockey games, he has been a full-time freelance writer since 1997. Andy has been editor of the Island Farmer, a biweekly publication which covers the agriculture scene, since 2000. He and his wife, Angela, have four adult children and they reside in Cornwall.

Leave a Reply