MLA report March 7

leela

Hello Chestermere – Strathmore,

As I write this article, Ukraine sends their women and children to other countries to protect them from attacks on their sovereign nation.  The displacement of these peaceful people will most definitely see Canada and Alberta stepping up to support Ukrainians as they seek safety and perhaps permanency.  It will be imperative to see us mount larger-scale responses to this displacement and be ready to quickly help and support those impacted; the way Albertans always do with our hearts, minds, time, and dollars.  We will need to support and leverage our civil society to be ready to find homes for those looking for a home, provide speed in integration into society, love and support.  This is the spirit of our province.  This will be instrumental in welcoming and accommodating those who have experienced trauma, loss, and tremendous upheaval.  We need to look at all our tools, and we need to have a plan that can be instituted quickly and efficiently as the information changes by the second.  We need to make sure that supports are there for our Ukrainian families, whether they are here until the conflict ends or choose to make Alberta their home.  As of today, there are more than 1.5 million Ukrainians fleeing their sovereign nation.  The Globe and Mail reported that “as people in Odessa bagged sand, opera singers sang the anthem, Ukraine is not dead, nor its glory and freedom.”

 We know that we will be seeing many Ukrainians’ coming to Alberta; the numbers will be larger than anything we have ever seen.  We have seen Canada and Alberta welcome refugee families, now we need to learn from our past mistakes, and move quickly to get these families to safety.

The non-profits and non-government organizations catch everything public policy measures don’t cover, such as settlement and long-term health care.  Organizations like the Red Cross are getting constant updates, and this is the expert intel we will need as Alberta opens her arms wide to all those who need her.

This journey to Canada has seen NGOs and NFP step up and fulfill those needs along the way.

We need to bring subject matter expertise to the table in Alberta alongside of-and led by settlement agencies and community partners such as the Non-profit organization Council of Alberta and the settlement agencies both federal and regionally.

We need to

➢ Prepare our health care system to support a sudden influx in population.

➢ Expand our education system to provide the Ukrainian children with continued education.

➢ Offer safe shelter to families who need to stay together.

 Ukrainian pride is exemplary.  For those fleeing from war in hopes of returning to their home when it is safe, we welcome you here.  We can be your safe haven.

 For those fleeing from war in hopes of making Canada their permanent home, we welcome you here.  We would be all the richer for having you share our home with us.

 Once again, Alberta will show the world what the power of kindness and generosity can accomplish.

Finally, the Alberta-based digital portal volunteerconnector.org and national organizations like the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Red Cross are creating centralized sources of information for ways people can volunteer their services and ways organizations can recruit volunteers.  We must have immediate funding available to NFPs and NGOs affected by the increased services needed.  Not just the obvious ones, such as food and shelter. We need to be ready to help mental health agencies that support Ukrainian clients dealing with the trauma of their losses.

➢ We need to be ready to offer grants and aid to local community centres, churches, and temples in a timely manner.  They serve as the safety nets refugees depend on when they get here.

Our province strongly welcomes Ukrainians to call this their new home away from home.

Finally, thank you to everyone who came out to our town halls.  I am so grateful that you took the time out of your busy schedules to chat with me and share your wisdom and expertise.  We are strong and resilient people, and as always, I am honoured to represent you.

Have a wonderful day!

As always, we love to hear from you.

About the author

Leela Aheer

Leela Aheer

Leela Aheer was elected to the Alberta Legislature in the riding of Chestermere-Rocky View. She currently resides in Chestermere and looks forward to using her roots in the community along with her experience in business, and her passion for her community to effectively advocate for her constituents in the Alberta Legislature.

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