Advocate says process for Ukrainians coming to Canada re-traumatizing

By Alex Karpa and Claire Fenton

For nearly three weeks, calls for Canada to drop its visa requirement for Ukrainians have been getting louder and louder, but Canada’s ministry of immigrations has remained unmoved.

There are more than 140 countries around the world which allow visa-free travel for Ukrainians, or allow them to obtain a visa upon arrival, however, Canada is not on the list. That’s according to Nick Krawetz, a Winnipeg man with ties to Ukraine, who has added his voice to those calling for Canada to make an exception for Ukrainians.

“Ukrainian people who are wanting to potentially come to Canada and seek a temporary or more permanent refuge, they will still have to apply for a visa,” he said, a process that has been promised to be sped up, but he says is not fast enough.

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He says everyone is still required to apply and submit necessary documentation which can be incredibly stressful given the situation

“Canada is saying you must flee to a neighboring country first, and then submit your application then we’re going to request photos from you, we’re going to request biometric information from you, and other documents that you’ll need to fill out.”

A screen grab of the website which shows a two week wait for Ukrainians to get a visa for Canada

While Canada has promised to welcome Ukrainians, the process to get a visa still requires documentation and will take some time, which advocates say is difficult for those fleeing violence. (

Despite the creation of two new programs to make Canada a safe haven for Ukrainians fleeing violence, many say the logistics and barriers remain in place.

Registration for the new programs is set to begin March 17, three weeks after Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, and since then millions of people have fled from their homes.

As of Monday, 1.7 million people have sought safety in Poland, but Krawetz says they are now stuck in limbo and red tape.

“These people are going to be highly traumatized. They’re walking hundreds of kilometres or driving hundreds of kilometres through a warzone and they’re crossing into a neighbouring country and then being told to fill out paperwork. You know, it’s sort of re-traumatizing these people, because they’re going to be forced to wait now and being stuck in limbo when they just experienced this highly traumatic event,” he said.

He’s also advocating for airlines to offer discount flights to Ukrainian to further assist them getting to Canada.

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