A flight carrying 170 people fleeing war-torn Ukraine landed in Moncton on Tuesday afternoon.

The Ukrainians were greeted by New Brunswick government officials, including Premier Blaine Higgs, on the tarmac at the Greater Moncton International Airport.

There they will meet hosts who are committed to helping house and settle newcomers.

Lieutenant Governor Brenda Murphy and Arlene Dunn, Minister responsible for Immigration and Opportunities New Brunswick, who chartered the plane, were also part of the welcome party, along with community volunteers.

Premier Blaine Higgs welcomes two young Ukrainians to the province after their plane lands in Moncton. (Radio-Canada)

Higgs said it was a great day not only for newcomers fleeing war in Ukraine, but also for the province.

“We’re happy to be able to do our part and we’re happy to see 170 people coming in today,” Higgs said.

“Let them settle permanently in New Brunswick, [or are] to be able to return to their homeland, we certainly want them to realize that they are [welcome] here as long as they want and need to be.”

“The provincial immigration team is working with partners – including settlement agencies, employers, community organizations, the Red Cross and employment counselors – to ensure that those arriving receive the help they need,” says a statement from Opportunities New Brunswick.

A charter plane has landed at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport carrying people who fled the war in Ukraine. (Radio-Canada)

Department spokesman David Kelly said that in selecting the 170 people, the province focused on those who had friends or family in New Brunswick, as well as people who received a job offer or which “meet the needs of our labor market.

“Many have jobs lined up, others we connect with our WorkNB offices and will help them find jobs,” he said in an email.

The Ukrainians who arrived on Tuesday are part of a federally-run immigration program that fast-tracks applications from people actively fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. People who arrive through this program can work and study in the country for three years. At the end of their stay, they can also apply for permanent residence.

Recently, the program was updated to include one-time, tax-free financial assistance of $3,000 per adult and $1,500 per child.

The community, the province are looking for host families

Most newcomers from Ukraine will settle in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.

Higgs said some of those arriving may need to stay with host families while they look for accommodation.

“We know New Brunswickers will be eager to continue to step up and help in this area,” Higgs said in the news release.

Ukrainian servicemen walk past a building heavily damaged in a Russian shelling in Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, May 28, 2022. Many people are forced to flee their homes as the war continues. (Francisco Seco/Associated Press)

That’s why the province asks those interested in hosting a family to send an email to [email protected] to “be put in touch with the nearest settlement agency.”

Kelly said the province connects all newcomers with settlement agencies “to ensure they have a safe landing in New Brunswick.”

Because of how quickly people get cleared to enter Canada, some are turning to social media to find hosts.

Carol Ailles created the Facebook group Atlantic Canada welcomes Ukrainians when she was first touched by the history of displacement in this Eastern European country. In just a few months, the group has gained 9,000 members, including Ukrainians, their families and local residents offering everything from accommodation to clothing donations.

“As a host, you’re going to try to give them some stability, an opportunity to feel comfortable where they live. So you just try to think not about what you want, but about what they want. What do they need”, she said Fredericton Information Morning.

Ailles, who lives in Saint John, said people would need help not only to get their paperwork in order, but also to find a place to live and learn about the lay of the land. She said her Facebook group connects people, but is not affiliated with any settlement agencies.

Kathryn Melvin, executive director of Newcomer Connections at the YMCA of Greater Saint John, said all Ukrainians arriving in the city are welcome to access Y services, including getting help with school registration, take language classes and set up social insurance numbers and bank accounts.

She said local hosts are also welcome to use their services, whether they connect with a family privately or through the agency.

“We have a lot of systems and connections in place,” she said.

Ailles picked up her own Ukrainian guests in Halifax last week and prepared a room for them in her house.

“[It’s] good if there are at least separate bedrooms for parents and children…in most cases you share a kitchen and bathroom.”

Ailles said people often have a three- or four-day trip to New Brunswick and likely need time to rest and sort things out when they arrive. Having clothes and food ready for them and helping them apply for a medical card would take a big weight off them for the first few days.

“[It] it’s wonderful to help connect people… even more wonderful to see them meet at the airport.”