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‘A perfect fit’: Okanagan families recount hosting displaced Ukrainians

KSWU housing co-ordinator says there have successfully paired up many host and Ukrainian families
Kelowna Stands With Ukraine Housing Co-ordinator, Cindy Faris. (Gary Barnes/Capital News)

After reading about a Kelowna couple’s negative experience hosting a Ukrainian family, others have come forward to share their positive stories.

Corey and Jessica Carthew are out tens of thousands of dollars after helping a Ukrainian couple and their four children.

READ MORE: Couple disheartened after helping newcomers to Kelowna

Their story is in stark contrast to the experience Wendy and Jim Scorgie had.

They welcomed Artem and his wife Viktoriya into their Lake Country home in Sep. 2022, after being connected through Kelowna Stands With Ukraine (KSWU).

“They were just such a perfect fit for us, they will always be friends with our family,” said Wendy.

Jim added there was never a doubt that they wanted to help.

“We thought it would be the right thing to do. We’re like their father and mother.”

The couple stayed with the Scorgies for several months, with Artem leaving in February after securing a job, and Viktoriya staying until May so Artem could find them a place to live. During their stay, there wasn’t much talk about what was happening in their home country.

“We learned about their life in Ukraine when they were there and how they had to give up their house,” said Jim. “It was never really a topic of conversation.”

He added that Artem and Viktoriya, who are in their 30s, are extremely grateful for the opportunities that have been made available to them.

“They know they’ve been well received, they feel like they’ve really been lucky to land here I think.”

The couple loves the Okanagan and wants to stay. They are looking for jobs that fit federal government criteria that will allow them to do that.

“It isn’t easy,” said Jim. “But I can’t imagine the government would keep them here for three or four years and then tell them they have to go.”

Wendy and Jim said they would host another family again.

“Because of our experience we would certainly urge people to open up their homes and give people a good beginning in their new country,” added Wendy. “We were away for much of the they stayed with us. That’s how much we trusted them right off the bat.”

Yvette Tromblay has had similar experiences hosting displaced Ukrainians. She and her husband have welcomed several families and individuals to their Peachland home since Nov. 2022.

“My husband is Ukrainian, he was born in Canada, but his parents fled Ukraine during the Second World War,” she said.

Her family also left Holland after the war.

“They had nothing. So they chose Canada as the country they would like to rebuild in.”

Tromblay said most of the families and individuals they’ve hosted were in their 20s and early 30s.

“It’s like getting a whole bunch of new kids that are just awesome. They’re so fun, they’re up for anything.”

She added that she also learned how resilient and brave many Ukrainians are in starting over.

“You don’t understand the hardships you have to face throwing yourself blindly into a new country.”

Tromblay said that one of her best pieces of advice for anyone who may want to host Ukrainian families is to ensure open and clear communication.

“I’ve never had a problem, or anybody that I know who has been hosting hasn’t had a problem, because I do help a few other hosts.”

The bad experience the Carthews had with the family they hosted is not typical according to KSWU housing co-ordinator Cindy Faris.

“This family, on the news was, not brought in by our organization. I don’t know anything about the situation, but they did not come through us.”

Faris added that host and Ukrainian families are vetted and screened by KSWU before being paired up.

“We take a lot of detailed information from them before we actually match them with a host family.”

More information about hosting families can be found on the KSWU website.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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