Rockland home welcomes Ukrainian refugees

Par Raymond Berthiaume
Rockland home welcomes Ukrainian refugees
Welcome Ukrainian family

A self-proclaimed humanitarian, Landreville wanted to host a Syrian family during the height of the civil war in that country, but paperwork and red tape made it unfeasible. When the opportunity came up to take in displaced individuals from Ukraine, she jumped on it.

“I just couldn’t say no given the urgency and seriousness of the situation of what’s happening with the war,” said Landreville. “Imagine if we had neighbours that decided to bomb us and we had nowhere to go?”

The family is currently in Cyprus after fleeing the north-eastern city of Sumy, part of a region which saw heavy fighting during the initial days of the Russian invasion starting in February.

Come August 14, Landreville is giving up her two-bedroom condo to a mother, her two young daughters, and her younger brother. The husband and father of the two girls asked his brother-in-law to look after his family while he stayed behind to fight the Russian invasion.

“I don’t live in a big place, but it’s doable,” said Landreville.

The queen-size bed in the guestroom will be taken up by the two girls. There is a pull-out coach for the brother, and the mother is being offered Landreville’s own bed.

“She’s been under so much stress that I just want to offer her a comfortable place to stay,” said Landreville. “I’m sure she needs a good sleep.”

With every room in her house spoken for, Landreville will be staying with friends until her Ukrainian guests get back on their feet, popping in to answer any questions they might have, offering support, and also feeding her cats.

The response and support from the community is astounding, according to Landreville. For the past several weeks, she has been soliciting donations of clothing, food and other necessities for the family’s arrival.

“They should have everything they need. I think they have enough toothpaste for the next 10 years,” said Landreville. “Now I am concentrating on financial donations. Eventually they will need to rent their own place. They don’t have any furniture. They don’t have anything.”

A crowdfunding page is set up to ensure the new arrivals are able to rent a car, afford food and eventually pay first and last month’s rent for a place to live on their own.

Though the family’s plans for settling are yet unknown, Landreville hopes they decide to make Rockland their new home.

“I’ve encouraged them stay,” said Landreville. “I’ve been in this community for over 40 years and I know how warm the people can be. I would love them to stay.”

Landreville is not the only friendly face from the area welcoming Ukrainian families. Landreville heard of the family looking to settle in the Ottawa area from a Facebook post by Tom Smith who is already hosting a couple in Rockland and did not have the space to take on another.

Between January and July of 2022, special programs implemented by the Canadian government have provided temporary resident visas to more than 275,000 Ukrainian nationals and their family members according to statistics on the federal government website.

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