Ukrainian native Kateryna Sysoieva has lived in Canada for 10 years. As a student studying ESL at Fleming College, she has formed a strong connection to the newcomer community in Peterborough.
Since the war started in her homeland in February 2022, she has volunteered hundreds of hours to help Ukrainians settle in Peterborough and the surrounding area. She belongs to a group that works with Ukrainians even before they arrive in Canada.
Kateryna helps them navigate the paperwork needed to enter, gets them to Peterborough then assists them in finding short-term housing. She also helps them secure employment as they receive very little government financial assistance.
Finally, she gets children enrolled in schools and adults acquire documents, such as health cards and driver’s licenses. Earlier this month, the Peterborough Rotary Club recognized her commitment with a Paul Harris Fellowship in the category of international service.
The challenges newcomers face
Many newcomers arrive with trauma and may suffer either mentally or physically. As needed, Kateryna takes them to the hospital or sets up healthcare appointments. She does all this on her own personal time, despite working full-time and raising two young sons.
Kateryna has been appointed the local representative of the Ontario branch of the Canadian Ukrainian Council. She also she holds regular meetings and celebrations for the Ukrainian community at the local Greek Orthodox Church. Imbued with kindness and selflessness, she always stops what she is doing if others need her.
Sadly, Kateryna has recently lost her uncle and grandfather to illness in Ukraine. Even as she watches her beloved country at war, she continues to be a positive beacon for those arriving. Naturally, she offers them support and hope. She truly embodies the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.”
Volunteer with the Refugee Support Team
Do you want to help newcomers settle in? The New Canadians Centre works with individuals arriving from a variety of nations. Founded in 1979, the NCC remains dedicated to supporting immigrants, refugees and other newcomers.
Currently, it seeks members for its Refugee Support Team. Did you know that each government-assisted refugee that comes to Peterborough receives a welcome from this team? It acts as a support network of friends, helping them adjust to their new life in Canada.
Together, they help individuals overcome cultural barriers and other challenges that surface when navigating a new place. Depending on your interests and the family, this can involve many different types of support:
- friendly social conversations
- general community orientation (walking routes, trails, bus station, groceries, markets, parks, your favourite places, etc.)
- teaching English
- family activities and more.
This requires a weekly commitment of two hours or less. However, the Centre asks volunteers to stay with the team for six months or longer.
What do volunteers get out of the experience:
- Empower others and give them the confidence to navigate the community
- Make a difference in an entire family’s lives and have a lasting impact
- Make connections and learn about other cultures
- Contribute to a community not-for-profit organization that values your help
Newcomers often seek ways to connect with people and to get to know their fellow Canadians. If you feel passionately about welcoming people to the community in different ways, you can join a support team.
Things are so hard for newly arrived refugees and we want volunteers to offer them a break from all the overwhelming stress they are feeling in their day-to-day lives. It’s as simple as arranging outdoor activities, crafts, sports, games, or any type of social activity.