As Ukrainian refugees flee the war-torn country, a Sooke man is on a mission to help them navigate Canada’s monetary system and feel welcomed in their new home with a practical booklet.
“They’re shellshocked. They show up here it’s a new language a new culture. And certainly, the monetary system is confusing to them,” said Bill Romaniuk.
It’s a family endeveaour. Bill and his two siblings are creating booklets that break down everything from loonies and toonies. Inside, is not just printouts of Canadian cash, but the real deal.
“A full book has about $188.40 in it,” said Bill.
Half education, half help to get the newly-arrived Ukrainians on their feet.
“Most people who have been on the receiving end of this are women and children and have very little than what they’re carrying on their backs,” said Bill.
The impetus for the booklet is the family’s grandfather’s experience as a Ukrainian emigrant to Canada in the 1930s.
“When my grandfather came over he was a shoemaker,” said Bill. “He certainly had a lot of skills in his pocket, but also some money in his pocket. But after the voyage over to Canada and doing the quarantine in Halifax, when the exchange happened he was taken for his money. Five dollars turned into one dollar.”
Determined no one else should share the same fate, the Romaniuk family came up with the idea of the small guide, which also includes the average cost of items like flour and gas, goes over the typical cost of living, and even explains the tax system.
“I thought this is just an amazing idea for the families to start feeling themselves as welcomed first of all and integrate into a Canadian way of living. Everything is new to them. Climate, culture, yes coins, yes the bank system, everything. So I’m grateful,” said Victoria Grando with the Victoria Ukrainian Cultural Centre
Since the Sooke family’s first booklet was handed out in April, Bill says 110 booklets have been delivered to Ukrainians in Greater Victoria and Ontario, for a total of around $20,000, and are determined to keep going.
“For as long as the war goes. It might be a little while,” said Bill Romaniuk.
The Romaniuks cover the publishing costs and ask anyone interested in sponsoring a book to contact Bill at [email protected].