Residents of Kiwanis Village welcomed several Ukrainian newcomers to the community Saturday (Aug. 6) at the Ukrainian Village’s grand opening in Saanich.
In an effort to aid some of the most vulnerable Ukrainians fleeing violence in Europe – including single mothers with children, seniors, people living with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ2+ community – up to 45 people will now be able to take up temporary residence for free in the village.
The Ukrainian village is a product of the partnership between the Capital Regional District, Help Ukraine Vancouver Island, the Kiwanis Club of Victoria, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress Victoria branch, the Ukrainian Cultural Society of Vancouver Island, and the Victoria Foundation.
The new village is made up of 15 units, most of which are bachelor suites equipped with kitchenettes and bathrooms. There’s also a communal kitchen as well as a meeting area with a sunroom and television.
Newcomers will be able to stay in the village for up to three months, and possibly longer if needed.
“We really want this to be a space that supports these people in becoming independent, not just throwing them out on their own once their three months here in the village is up,” said Devon Sereda Goldie, president of Victoria’s Ukrainian-Canadian Congress branch.
The former assisted living residence has been leased to the Ukrainian Cultural Society of Vancouver Island – which already runs the Ukrainian Cultural Centre – for one year.
Liuba Moisieieva immigrated to Canada herself over eight years ago. Like those escaping the war, Moisieieva understands the challenges of relocating to an entirely different society. That’s why she’ll be living in the village as the residence manager – alongside her parents and nephew who recently arrived from Ukraine.
“No one was ready to come to Canada,” she said. “This is very painful for all of us. Some came with just one backpack.”
“It’s important having a clean and safe environment. People can speak Ukrainian and Russian and most importantly, feel at home.”
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