With the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many Ukrainian citizens were driven from their homes and found their way to Canada and to Edmonton and area where they found peace and a warm welcome from Cherilyn Michaels and "Edmonton Hosts Ukrainians."  Cherilyn began a grassroots volunteer Facebook group to help Ukrainians find a home/ host in Edmonton.  To date with more than 25,000 members, they have hosted over 1,700 men, women and children.
Cherilyn coordinated connections between prospective/arrived newcomers and those who have stepped up as hosts.  Never willing to turn down a request for help, Cherilyn’s support has been invaluable, not only for the Ukrainian newcomers but to their hosts and other volunteers. She inspired countless volunteers to participate in the Facebook group
The FB group provided
  • information and resources to newcomers and those investigating Edmonton as a destination.
  • Interactive forum where Ukrainians (both recent newcomers, and those not here yet) can ask questions and be assisted by locals.
  • a platform to ask for help about housing, jobs, childcare, how to move furniture, airport pickups, and local volunteers respond.
  • help in emergency situations and we respond and assist them.
The FB group also runs formally organized programs.
HOSTING--connected newcomer families who otherwise would not have a place to stay on arrival to volunteer hosts. There are about 500 volunteer hosts registered with EHU, 287 of whom have hosted, many of which have hosted over 10 times. An average stay is one month.  Volunteer hosts, coordinated through the system, have hosted over 600 Ukrainian families since May 2022, and continue to do so. During the peaks in March 2023 & 2024, volunteers and organizations, coordinated by EHU, also paid out of pocket for 14 days in airbnbs to help families directly, because there was no useful temporary housing support for them.
AIRPORT—on request, arranged airport pickups for families arriving in Edmonton.(40 volunteers)
MENTORING--organized volunteers to help newcomer families with paperwork-- opening a bank account, getting a SIN, getting healthcare. These volunteers usually also help with finding a place to rent, putting kids in school, and often assist with the job search. (44 volunteers)
Cherilyn Michaels led this group as a complete volunteer to create positive change in our communities and as a result created goodwill and new friendships among the newcomers, the hosts/volunteers and the community at large. Without this leadership, many of these families would have faced uncertainty and confusion in their first months arriving in an unfamiliar land. She was awarded the Ukraine Crisis Humanitarian Aid Award from Ukrainian Canadian Congress.