Yukoners with Ukrainian relatives seeking safety can now turn to a new, local support desk.
As far as the Yukon government is aware, no Ukrainians have arrived in the Yukon since Feb. 24. In an email statement on March 8, spokesperson Damian Topps said there are local Ukrainians who are already in contact with their families.
In a March 7 news release, the Yukon government announced the Ukranian family support desk will assist Yukoners and Ukrainians to find pathways and resources for residency in the Yukon and other parts of the country.
It will provide information on federal programs to assist with immigration and family reunification, connect employers that want to hire Ukrainians arriving in the territory and assist Ukrainians who are looking for work in the Yukon, according to the release.
Employees from the department of Economic Development, who are trained on immigration and temporary resident pathways, will staff the support desk.
“It is important that during a humanitarian crisis such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine that we unite as a global community to support Ukrainians with all the tools available,” Minister of Economic Development Ranj Pillai stated.
“By working closely with the Yukon’s Ukrainian community, the federal government and Yukoners, we are helping ensure that Ukrainians have a pathway to work and live in the Yukon. The Yukon government will continue to monitor the situation and explore every opportunity to help Ukrainians in need of sanctuary.”
When reached by phone on March 8, a support desk worker said the support desk has been bustling.
In an email statement on March 8, Jeffrey MacDonald, a federal government communications officer with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said more than 6,000 Ukrainian nationals have arrived in Canada since Jan. 1.
“We will continue to ensure the fastest, safest and most efficient path forward for Ukrainians who are seeking to come to Canada,” reads the statement.
The IRCC does not collect information on where people move to within Canada and abroad, MacDonald said. In the statement, it will need time to provide statistics on source countries of those with an intended destination of the Yukon.
Yukoners uniting in support
Jeff Sloychuk lives in Whitehorse and has family in Ukraine. In a Facebook message on March 8, Sloychuk said he is currently en route to Ukraine to help get his three distant relatives out of Kyiv, where they have been sleeping in a subway.
His sense is that most are sticking close to home for now, he said. Sloychuk suggested that new arrivals are more likely to go to places with larger Ukrainian populations in Canada.
“But if people want to come to Yukon, I would be happy to get them there, obviously,” he said.
Yukon University president Lesley Brown put out a statement that joins others in condemning the actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin and calling for an immediate end to the armed aggression.
“Yukon University stands with Ukraine, and we are heartened by the huge outpouring of solidarity with the Ukraine people, here in Yukon and around the world — including those in Russia risking everything to oppose their government,” Brown said in the statement.
“Yukon University supports the work by the Governments of Yukon and Canada to ensure refugees fleeing this war will be accepted into Canada.”
The statement notes the university community may be directly or indirectly affected by the news and images coming out of Eastern Europe.
The federal government said in a March 3 news release that it is introducing new immigration streams for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada temporarily or permanently, in response to Russia’s invasion on Ukraine.
New meaures listed on the federal government’s website include, urgently processing new and replacement passports and travel documents for citizens and permanent residents of Canada in Ukraine, so they and their family members can return to Canada at any time.
Other measures include prioritizing applications from people who currently live in Ukraine for permanent residence, proof of citizenship, temporary residence and citizenship grant for adoption; granting exemptions for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Ukrainian nationals to enter Canada; adding new ways for people to get answers about existing programs and extending a temporary public policy that lets some visitors in Canada, including Ukranians, apply for a work permit from within Canada.
A March 1 news release by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicates most refugees have fled to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia, while others have moved toward other European countries and a “sizeable number” has moved to the Russian Federation.
The UNHCR has been urging governments to maintain access to territory for Ukranians and third county nationals living in Ukraine who are now escaping the violence there.
In the territorial government release, more information is available online at https://yukon.ca/en/immigrate-yukon, by phone at 867-456-3920 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Dana Hatherly at email@example.com