Ukrainian family settles in FSJ with help from Mayor Ackerman, BC Housing

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A Ukrainian family now calls Fort St. John home thanks to a collaboration between a resident, Mayor Lori Ackerman, and BC Housing.

Jane Malchesky says she first heard about the family while working for the school district as the program director of settlement workers and schools.

“A family member from Charlie lake contacted us because their brother-in-law is 16. He came over with their in-laws, and they were trying to register him in school,” Malchesky recalled.

Malchesky soon learned that the family was living in and out of camps in Wonowon. While the parents were working in trades camp, their son would stay with his brother, a resident of Charlie Lake.

“Their son was dealing with a lot of PTSD and separation anxiety from his parents. So he would go up the highway while mom and dad were cleaning in camps and would just stay in a room up there because he couldn’t be away from his parents, but it wasn’t the best environment for him,” Malchesky said.

Malchesky says she then connected with Mayor Ackerman, who decided to step in to assist.

“I reached out to my contacts, who were very receptive. The beautiful part of it is, is that there also may be some job opportunities for them,” Ackerman said.

“It’s right down the hill from the high school where their son would be going to school. It was just a win-win-win for everybody,” she added.

Energeticcity reached out to BC Housing for a comment, who said they could not comment on specific cases due to privacy concerns.

However, the organization said that it is committed to ensuring that all who need housing are able to access it.

“BC Housing is one of several organizations working on options to house Ukrainians fleeing violence. We remain committed to ensuring that all those who need housing can locate a safe, affordable place to live,” the organization said.

“Many of those arriving are women-led households with children, seniors, and people living with disabilities, and we are taking this into account when assessing the varying needs those arriving may have. Other organizations involved in housing include the federal government, United Way and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.” BC Housing continued.

According to BC Housing, the federal government has approved 263,673 applications under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program.

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