By Suzanne Knight, Walmart Canada Vice President, Transformation Services
Everything became real the moment I saw their faces.
It was a Ukrainian couple with a young child asking for help on a video call. They were among the millions of Ukrainians who fled their homes when their country became a warzone in late February.
They had nowhere to go and no safe place for their child. I offered them a free place to stay in the guest room of my Toronto home.
“Yes, please. We want to stay in your home,” the mother told me. The look on her face said it all.
I saw the faces of concerned parents and an innocent seven-year-old boy. I saw an opportunity to help.
If they had any other options, they wouldn’t fly across the world to share a home with strangers in a foreign country. Clearly, they were desperate for help. I couldn’t turn my back on them.
I told my Walmart Canada colleagues and neighbours about the situation. I asked if they would be interested in assisting the family with financial security during their first few months in Canada and helping to replace the possessions they had to leave behind in Ukraine. Thankfully, my Walmart family and community contributed generous donations to assist my Ukrainian guests when they needed it most.
A few months later, the family I helped is back on its feet. They moved into a new apartment. The child is attending a new school and has become close friends with my children. The mother is excelling in her new job and the father gratefully accepted a job offer with Walmart Canada last week. They are happy, healthy and safe in Canada. I’m so grateful for all the help they have received.
I’m proud to see Walmart Canada is stepping up to help displaced Ukrainians, too. Here’s how:
- Walmart Canada is contributing to the Canadian Red Cross with a $250,000 donation, which is on top of the more than $20,000 raised by our associates.
- Walmart Canada is donating tens of thousands of apparel and footwear units to The Salvation Army Thrift Store, which will help assist Ukrainian newcomers and other community members in need.
- Walmart Canada is partnering with the Government of Canada on a new Jobs for Ukraine initiative, which helps displaced Ukrainians find employment opportunities at Walmart when they start a new life in Canada.
- The Canadian Red Cross is recruiting Ukrainian-to-English volunteer interpreters to support their operations at airports in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto, which Walmart will help promote and share with its more than 100,000 associates.
- Walmart Canada stores are utilizing the company’s Community Grants program to assist Ukrainians, including a $15,000 donation to Sts. Vladimir & Olga Cathedral in Manitoba for humanitarian aid.
I’m hoping these efforts will make a real difference for people who truly need our support. After all, Ukrainians are just like us – they need some help, like we all do sometimes.
After seeing the kindness of Canadians, from my colleagues and my neighbours, I see why this Ukrainian family took their leap of faith. Canada was their best chance at a better life. In times of unthinkable hardship, we can provide hope and support, working together to create a foundation for displaced people beginning their new lives in Canada.
When you see their faces, you will see how much it means to them. And maybe you’ll be inspired to support Ukrainian newcomers. Visit the federal government’s website to learn more.