The construction industry is doing its part to help those impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In B.C., efforts are being spearheaded by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA). As of March 18, the campaign had raised more than $128,000 for the Canadian Red Cross and Red Crescent movement to support humanitarian efforts.
“We have all watched in horror as the Russian army attempts to conquer the independent, democratic nation of Ukraine. The largest military attack Europe has seen since the end of World War II is laying waste to vibrant cities and communities and indiscriminately killing innocent civilians,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president in a statement. “Our members have been asking us how they can help – so we are working to raise money for the Red Cross’ relief efforts.”
Jordan Bateman, vice-president of communications and marketing with the ICBA, explained the campaign began when the association learned of a Ukrainian-Canadian staff member in its training department who has family in the region.
She is messaging family and friends trying to find out if they are safe.
Gardner added the images and stories coming out of the region are heartbreaking and he hopes that with millions of lives at stake, the campaign can assist aid efforts the encourage others to act.
“We just feel so bad for her and her family,” said Bateman. “They have done nothing wrong and are basically prisoners in their country. We are trying to help however we can.”
To kick off the campaign, the association donated $25,000 and its board of directors matched that with their own funds for a total of $50,000.
The group is encouraging the B.C. construction community to step forward and donate as well. Donations from individuals will be further matched by a federal government program, which means even more money will be raised to help the people of Ukraine who are desperate for relief. The association added its members have also committed to helping any Ukrainian refugee find work in the province’s construction industry.
Bateman noted more than 1.4 million Canadians can trace Ukrainian heritage, making it likely that the Slavic country has ties to many in the province’s large construction sector.
“Probably thousands of construction workers have links to Ukraine,” said Bateman. “No matter what you think about what is going on, the humanitarian cost is unbelievable.”
Those looking to donate can do so through this link: www.redcross.ca/UkraineCrisis/ICBA
“The response has been heartening and encouraging at a time when not a lot has been going well for the people in Ukraine,” said Bateman. “We always want to give back to the community. You want to make sure the construction community remembers that there is always a bigger world out there than the project currently being worked on.”
Beyond B.C., the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) says it’s willing to work with Canadian governments to help Ukrainian refugees settle in Canada.
The PCA praised the federal government’s move to fast-track Ukrainian refugees and called on the provinces to take all available measures to facilitate their entry, settlement and employment as quickly as possible.
“We stand with others around the world in condemning Russia’s vicious and unprovoked attack on the people of Ukraine,” said PCA president Paul de Jong, noting member contractors employ many workers of Ukrainian descent. “We are painfully aware that Ukrainians are being displaced by the current conflict, and pledge to make jobs available for those who would like to join PCA members in building Canada and rebuilding their lives.”
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