For generations, new Canadians looking for a better life have made contributions to communities across the prairies.
On Thursday, the federal government announced funding to small, rural communities and organizations to give refugees displaced by wars in the Ukraine or Afghanistan a chance to succeed in Canada.
Moose Jaw Mayor Clive Tolley said newcomers drive and grow smaller communities.
“They’re among us here, they’re in our schools, they’re employing people and run businesses,” he said. “While we’re not happy about the circumstances, we are happy to offer a home to people.”
More than $14 million will be invested between 14 towns and organizations committed to the support of refugees and immigrants. Over $10 million will go to 11 organizations while $4.2 million will be split between the communities of Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie, Alta. and Winkler, Man.
Canada is preparing for an influx of refugees from Ukraine displaced by the invasion by Russia. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Marie-France Lalonde, said the investment will help these communities prepare for newcomers.
“Canada is a welcoming country,” she said. “Newcomers play a crucial role in the success, diversity and richness of our communities and our future prosperity.”
Organizations like the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council and the Francophone Community Association of Saskatchewan are a part of the partnership.
Tolley said the cultural, language and other barriers that exist for newcomers may create some challenges for both individuals and communities. He believes smaller communities can create a more welcoming environment.
“We’re welcoming people in this community,” he said. “We’re offering an open hand to people to come here to start a life here.”
“That’s why the collaboration between the provinces, the communities and the Ukrainian community is essential to help us facilitate. We just want to make sure they feel well received and welcome.”
Lalonde said there is currently no estimate on how many Ukrainian or other national refugees could be resettled in the prairies.
The investment is in addition to the $14 million the federal government announced in January which was given to community organizations in large cities.