There was hardly a dry eye in the room when community members and guests came together in a recent celebratory event at Tapestry at Victoria Harbour. They were gathered on a warm summer day to learn how dollars raised in a 2022 fundraising initiative were used to provide critical financial and housing support to Ukrainian nationals arriving in Victoria after fleeing their war-torn country.
Last year, a group of dedicated Tapestry at Victoria Harbour residents partnered with the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) to support the settlement of displaced Ukrainian nationals. More than $20,000 was raised through a province-wide raffle to win the “Patchwork of the Heart”, a beautifully crafted quilt created by a cohort of Tapestry residents. The quilt featured a spectacularly embroidered sunflower highlighting the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
Shelly D’Mello, Chief Executive Officer of the ICA, spoke passionately to an engaged audience about the importance of these funds to supporting newcomers in a market where securing housing is particularly challenging. She thanked Tapestry’s residents for their commitment to support others and for partnering with ICA to help deliver meaningful, impactful solutions that help newcomers.
“Around 90 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes, and we count on the support of the community to be able to respond to their needs as they settle into Victoria,” said Shelly.
Reinforcing the importance of housing to new Canadians was Hanna Kontomyrova, who fled the Ukraine after enduring months of bombing. Hanna joined the celebration to share her poignant story, which highlighted housing as one of the main barriers she and her family, including two young children, faced upon arrival in Canada.
She brought many to tears when she explained the unimaginable challenge of living in the midst of war and leaving everything familiar – friends, family, schools, jobs – to find a place where they could live in peace.
Hanna expressed her tremendous gratitude for the kind support she has received in Canada and the generosity that has helped her find a safe place to live and start life anew. “We thank you for the support in all that you’re doing,” said Hanna. “We promise to do the same for Canada.” Today, Hanna is a staff member of the ICA and “paying it forward” to help other immigrants and refugees seeking support to establish a new life in Canada.
Don Ross was one of the four residents at Tapestry at Victoria Harbour who led the “Patchwork of the Heart” quilt creation and fundraising initiative. “When we started this project, we really never imagined that we could raise even $10,000,” said Don. “But everyone became involved and was very generous. We are grateful to the residents, community members, Tapestry, ICA, Concert Properties and everyone else that purchased tickets and made donations to help us surpass our goal.”
Don, who ended up winning the “Patchwork of the Heart” quilt (to everyone’s surprise!) donated it to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Victoria where it is proudly displayed as a symbol of universal hope, peace and friendship.
“We are truly a community with a philanthropic heart,” says Amber Reis, General Manager, Tapestry at Victoria Harbour. “We look forward to continuing to explore partnerships with the ICA, which has helped to support newcomers to our region for more than 50 years.”
To learn more, please visit the ICA website. If our story has inspired you to help immigrants, refugees and displaced people build new lives in Greater Victoria, feel free to donate to ICA and highlight Tapestry as your inspiration in the comment box.
If you are an independent senior looking for a community where you can lend your time, talent and treasure, while living an active lifestyle that promotes health and well-being, contact us. It would be our pleasure to host you for a complimentary lunch and tour.