News Story

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Receives Humanitarian Award

The 2023 Hetman Ukraine Crisis Humanitarian Aid Award (UCHAA) was given to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on December 2, 2023, by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alberta Chapter.

Nadiia Hunko, a community outreach worker with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Alberta, said, “The Church was honoured with this award in recognition of its multifaceted contributions to the Ukrainian evacuee settlement process in Calgary.”

The UCHAA recognizes extraordinary Albertans contributing to the well-being of displaced Ukrainians in Alberta or supporting humanitarian aid for Ukrainians impacted by the [Russia–Ukraine] war,” Hunko said. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met these criteria by demonstrating leadership, swiftly addressing needs, and providing essential items and services. Nominations are submitted by a third party, reflecting the broader community’s acknowledgment of [the Church’s] impactful contributions. The Church has made a lasting and meaningful contribution to the Ukrainian newcomer community through endless support by providing volunteers and humanitarian aid as well as the venue for the Survival English classes for newcomers.”

Emergency Aid

Latter-day Saints assisted in several ways across the province of Alberta, such as providing emergency arrival kits, clothing, household necessities and 500 arrival backpacks for children.

Greg Stringham, the Church’s Calgary communication director, noted, “There was an urgent need for assistance with short notice. The Church stepped forward quickly and generously to meet that need. [The Church] provided ongoing service and organization as the need extended with more evacuees arriving and the needs changing and growing. Latter-day Saints rallied because they believe ‘when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God’ (Mosiah 2:17).”

Hunko said the need for help was critical for the thousands of Ukrainian evacuees arriving daily and the Church addressed their basic needs by providing them with essentials to start their lives over in Canada.

Ongoing Support

Beyond basic emergency needs, over $250,000 in additional supplies were donated and delivered biweekly over the course of five months to St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Sobor in Calgary for distribution to refugees. The Church also donated $25,000 to St. Vladimir’s for household necessities and $25,000 to Ukrainian Canada Social Services in Edmonton to support evacuees.

Another unique way the Church assisted was by hosting Survival English classes at one of the local Church chapels. This was done in partnership with the Ukrainian Welcoming Committee, whose members taught the English classes.

Partnering with Mount Royal University Residence Services (MRURS), Latter-day Saints were able to secure temporary housing for refugees for 1,000 nights. St. Stephen Protomartyr Ukrainian Catholic Church provided additional funding.

Stringham said MRURS extended room availability from the initially planned two months to over 12 months. This allowed evacuees to stay for one month at a time, either at a reduced rate or subsidized through Church donations.

As part of the ongoing efforts to assist with housing, the Church also initiated a temporary-housing website with the Centre for Newcomers. The website includes registration and vetting.

Community Partnering

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counsellor in the First Presidency, said, “The Church of Jesus

Christ is committed to serving those in need, and it is also committed to co-operating with others in that effort” (“Helping the Poor and Distressed,” October 2022 general conference).

Community partnering was key to helping Ukrainian refugees,” Stringham said. “Along with many others, we provided input to the [premier’s advisory] government task force [regarding] our experience and what outstanding needs we saw, what was most needed and what had worked best. The provincial government’s report provided additional funding and support to resettlement agencies and established a hotline for emergency Ukrainian aid.”

Hunko said, “The Church’s impact goes beyond immediate assistance. It has a lasting effect on the lives of those who moved across the world with little to no English knowledge or funds.”

Contributed by Heather Cameron

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