View From the Legislature

Manitoba Support for Ukraine Remains Strong

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

This past week marked the two-year anniversary of the country of Ukraine being forced into war by the unjust invasion of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Two years ago, it was generally believed that this would be a short battle, with the military might of Russia quickly overwhelming Ukraine. And yet, remarkably, today the resolve and resilience of the people of Ukraine to live in a sovereign nation remains as strong as ever as they continue to fight for their country and its future.

Because of the significant number of Manitobans with Ukrainian heritage, there was immediately a desire locally to help those impacted by the war. It’s remarkable to look back and see just how Manitoba has stepped up during the past 24 months and how it continues to do so today. Nearly 30,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine have entered Manitoba through its welcome centre program. This is a program that was started by the former Progressive Conservative government, and which was seen as a model for other Canadian provinces.

In addition, many Ukrainians have found their way to Manitoba after first coming to a different part of Canada and then relocating to our province. Estimates are that of those who have come to Canada from Ukraine, 10% have settled in Manitoba. Manitoba, as it always has, is doing more than its share.

Here in southeastern Manitoba, there has been an organized effort to help families from Ukraine find community connections and employment in the region. Former Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen has worked to lead the local Ukrainian Settlement Task Force which has helped to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for those coming from Ukraine. In addition to these local organizations and the provincial support system, what cannot be measured are the countless individual contributions that Manitobans make almost daily.

Manitoba and the southeast in particular have a long history of welcoming and supporting those in need of refuge. The past two years have demonstrated that this remains a significant part of who we are and the values that we hold.

And while that local support is critical for newcomers from Ukraine, the country itself is still engaged in a war that is more deadly and catastrophic than Europe has experienced in generations. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or injured because of this unjust war.

On the two-year anniversary of the invasion, the Canadian government recommitted support for Ukraine in the form of aid and military supplies. There is a recognition that the outcome of the war will have long-term repercussions that go beyond the borders of Ukraine. For that reason, it remains important that NATO countries continue to offer support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.

Two years ago, few could have predicted the resilience of Ukraine to withstand the invasion by Russia. It would also have been difficult to foresee Manitoba’s role in welcoming Ukrainians in the vast numbers that have arrived. But this represents both the courage of Ukraine and the compassion of Manitobans.

Many marked the two-year anniversary of the war by gathering together and praying for peace in a free and democratic Ukraine. Those prayers echo in the hearts of all Manitobans who have opened their arms and their homes in communities across our province.