Dear friends in Christ,
The images and stories coming out of Ukraine and the surrounding region over these past two weeks are heartbreaking, as more than two million people—mainly women and children—flee the death and destruction of another senseless war.
Many people here have been looking for concrete ways to help. Quebec’s immigration department has designated 14 cities in the province as priority places of settlement for any Ukrainian refugees who may arrive here in the coming weeks. Thirteen of those cities—Québec, Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Laval, Longueuil, Sherbrooke, Granby, Victoriaville, Joliette, Saint-Hyacinthe, Drummondville, Saint-Jérôme, and Rimouski—are within the boundaries of the Anglican dioceses of Montreal and Quebec. If you live in or near one of those cities, we would encourage you to reach out to municipal leaders to find out how you can help, either as an individual or a congregation.
These are the very early days of a humanitarian crisis that is likely to endure months, if not years. The specific needs of people fleeing the war may not be known for some time, and offering a place to live is not the only way to help. There are other ways to give expression to Jesus’ exhortation to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35), including helping provide food, furniture, and friendship.
It is possible that only a small number of Ukrainian refugees will find their way to our part of the world. Resettlement to a third country, such as Canada, is not the preferred first response to a refugee crisis. The hope is always that those fleeing for their lives will be able to soon return home in safety. It may be some time before we have a clearer idea of how we might be able to assist any Ukrainian refugees who may be arriving in Quebec.
The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine has struck a particular chord for many of us. But it is important to remember than even before the war there began two weeks ago, there were already more than 80 million people in every part of the world forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of conflict, persecution, human rights violations, and violence.
One immediate way to help Ukrainians fleeing their homeland is through donating to the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (pwrdf.org), which is working with its partners in the region to provision refugee camps and see to the immediate needs of those fleeing Ukraine, as well as internally displaced people. Almsgiving is a traditional Lenten discipline, and this is one timely way you can help those in desperate need.
We invite you to envelop your financial donations and other offers of help in prayer. Pray for an end to the war and for a just and lasting peace. Pray for the hardened hearts of those who started this war to be turned to reconciliation. Pray for those working publicly, or hidden from view, for an end this conflict. Pray for the innocent victims of this war, and all who will bear scars for years to come. Pray for those who have died. Pray that each of us, in our own way, might become channels of God’s peace.
In Christ, the Prince of Peace,
The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers
Bishop of Quebec
The Rt. Rev. Mary Irwin-Gibson
Bishop of Montreal