The Pansy Hall has been known to fill up with guests for their fall suppers, socials, and other fundraising events. However, last weekend, those who sat around the tables were 180 Ukrainian newcomers.
Leanne Germain, President of the Pansy Hall says, planning the event started several months ago.
“We were just wanting to do something locally for newly arrived families. We heard situations of the daily struggles of finding employment, working several jobs to pay rent, and finding childcare, and so we thought we had to do something.”
Germain says their community rallied together to make and sell food items to raise money to help offset their expenses.
She notes that after contacting the new Ukrainian Association of Steinbach, they sent out the invites, and 30 families registered.
"Our goal was to host the newly arrived Ukrainians to the Southeast for an evening of good food and just welcoming hospitality.”
Germain says, “We, in the Pansy Corner, are just a small piece of the puzzle, so we thought, you know, let’s help the locals that have just arrived here because it can be overwhelming, let alone the language barrier and the high rent.”
The event took place last Friday at Pansy Hall. Germain notes the place was full. She says after the meal, which consisted of mashed potatoes, meatballs, cabbage rolls, several Ukrainian dishes, and desserts, each family was able to tell their story of arriving in Canada, to the others in the room.
“We got to know one another, and, in this way, we can support each other, and we’ll be able to encourage one another, for health and prosperity for their families.”
Germain says, the kids were so happy, and the parents just got to just relax and enjoy themselves. “We didn’t want them to do anything.”
Before the evening ended, each family was presented with a care package. Germain says the residents in the area had fundraised to purchase the basic necessities like laundry detergent, coffee, toilet paper, and paper towels.
She says the Ukrainian families were overwhelmed by the meal and gifts. “People were brought to tears, they couldn’t believe it.”
Germain believes that “Everyone has been trying to help in their own way, by donating furniture, helping these families set up, and so, what better idea than to just have a dinner all together?”
“Sure, it’s a lot of work raising funds. Every dollar is hard work, but we are very glad we did it. We are inspired by these people. We are inspired by their courage and bravery. Our hope is for peace to end the invasion of Ukraine, and no matter if their stay in Canada is temporary, with hopes of returning to their homeland, or if they plant roots right here in the southeast, we just wanted to share some of our hospitality here and have fellowship with one another.”
The Ukrainian newcomers at the event had all arrived in Canada in the past year.