More than 300 Ukrainian refugees have landed on the tarmac at Winnipeg International Airport, the first of three charter flights expected to land in Canada next week.
The plane landed at approximately 3:45 pm central time when hundreds of people fleeing the war in Ukraine disembarked and were warmly welcomed by people at the airport.
“We had a two-hour conversation about the pros and cons and now she’s on this plane. It’s amazing!” Volodymyr Pimakhov said moments before one of his closest friends arrived in Winnipeg.
The new arrivals were greeted at the airport welcome desk and provided with guides on how to obtain certain documentation such as health cards, social security numbers, open bank accounts, as well as welcome packages containing toys and gifts for the children.
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“We have many services available to them, so we will welcome them with open hearts, open minds and open arms,” Manitoba Premier Heather Stefansson said.
It is estimated that about a third of the people on the plane were children.
A Ukrainian Canadian Congress volunteer told Global News that a variety of emotions quickly took hold once the plane landed.
“A little bit of relief, a certain sense of recognition from our team of volunteers who have been working day and night since April 15,” said Nick Krewetz.
The Canadian government has already welcomed thousands of Ukrainians since Russian forces first attacked in late February.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said the three flights will help bring approximately 90,000 Ukrainians approved for emergency travel to Canada.
The second plane is scheduled to leave for Montreal from Poland on May 29 and the third, bound for Halifax, will take off on June 2.
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