A job fair was held on Saturday to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine get jobs in Calgary.
The streets were lined outside St. Vladimir’s Church — hundreds of people fleeing the war in Ukraine eager to find work in Calgary.
Olena Ivanenko arrived in Calgary on June 3 with her son. She attended the job fair on Saturday and said she’s thankful to now be staying with a host family.
“We have a wonderful host family,” Ivanenko said. “They are so wonderful and they gave us so much love and support so we don’t feel like strangers, we feel like a part of their family. We are so thankful to them.”
They lived in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine near an oil refinery that was later destroyed. She said that added to fuel shortages and wiped out jobs.
“It’s difficult. There’s no jobs because a lot of people worked in the gas plant,” Ivanenko said.
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Around 30 employers took part in the job fair. There were companies ranging from landscaping and construction to hotels.
“We have lots of openings in hospitality as everybody else in the city, so we thought it was a great opportunity to actually find great talent and also support the community,” said Bruno Medeiros, the human resources manager at the Marriott Courtyard Calgary Airport.
Language is a barrier for some new arrivals as is having work experience in Canada.
“A lot of employers will look for Canadian experience. I think these types of fairs are really important because those barriers are falling away,” said Kelly Ernst, vice-president of vulnerable populations with the Centre for Newcomers.
“It is extremely important that we get the new arrivals employed because they’re not necessarily getting income support. They’re not necessarily getting the same supports that other immigrants may get, especially in that first 12-month period,” Ernst said.
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Despite being fluent in English, Ivanenko said getting a job is challenging because she still needs a medical test and experience.
She left a teaching job in Ukraine but said she’s motivated by the need to protect her son.
“With the first job here in Canada, it’s difficult without Canadian experience to get the job that you want,” Ivanenko said.
“It is difficult because there in Ukraine, I had students and schools were glad to see me. Now it’s difficult to start again but I know that I don’t have a chance to return because I want my child to be safe.”
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Through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET), Ukrainian nationals and their family members can apply for a temporary resident visa to travel to and stay in Canada temporarily.
Between March 17 and June 8, 131,763 applications have been approved while 296,163 applications have been received.
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