A Fort Saskatchewan woman will be representing the community in an Alberta task force for Hosting Ukrainians in Alberta.
Carol Slukynski was chosen to take part in the roundtable after her prolific work in helping displaced Ukrainians find a home in Fort Saskatchewan, which eventually led to her co-founding a group called 'Hosting Ukrainians in Fort Saskatchewan'.
Slukynski's motivation to help people affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine stems from her family's deep connection to the country.
"My grandfather immigrated to Canada [from Ukraine] after WW II. He came by boat," said Slukynski. "He relied on a complete stranger who lent him money to get on the boat."
It was this history that spurned Slukyniski to be that helpful stranger to those who were forced to flee.
"I wanted to pay my respects to my grandfather and how hard it would have been to leave Ukraine," said Slukyinski. "My passion is driven by acknowledging and respecting my ancestors and that process of coming [to Canada]."
"I imagined how difficult it would be to leave and the risk of coming to another country. How challenging it is to not understand the language, not having family, and financial support, and just being placed in a new environment and being expected to survive."
Slukynski's husband also has a connection to both Ukraine and Poland. Once the war broke out they got to work right away doing anything they could to help out.
"We were assisting a group in Edmonton that was doing financial support and actual aid that was going back [to Ukraine] through the Ed Stelmach foundation," said Slukynski.
Slukynski later met with a host committee in St. Albert and got the ball rolling on a similar committee in Fort Saskatchewan.
"We were able to lean on their resources to form our own group," said Slukynski. "From there we have raised over $50,000 and our main focus was to facilitate and support the receiving the newcomers into host families and then supporting them into independent living when they got their feet on the ground."
This work eventually led to her appointment to the provincial task force.
"I had no idea how I got chosen other than I've been very involved," said Slukynski. "I'm privileged to have the opportunity to work so closely with some incredible community as well as throughout the government."
The task force will be meeting to discuss strategies for helping Ukrainian newcomers and how to pool together resources.
"We are collaborating with different municipalities, levels of government, non-profit groups, businesses, and organizations all within Alberta," said Slukynski. "We have some meetings coming up in Calgary and Red Deer."
"We are gathering the different areas and different people and bringing them all to the table and figuring out what we are advising the government as to what steps should be taken to get better support for the newcomers."
The task force is expected to present a final report to the Alberta government early next year.