Back to top

Retired nurse spearheads drive to re-locate Ukrainian families to Heritage City

A friendly dinner has turned into a full scale fundraiser for Tina Coletti, seen here sewing items to raise awareness and support for Ukraine in Nelson. — Submitted photos

With the latest push by the Russians in eastern Ukraine, now, more than ever, is a time for people to come together to support the people of the ravaged European country.

In Nelson, what began as friends having dinner with people of Ukrainian heritage has blossomed into a drive to re-locate families to the Heritage City from the war-torn country.

“I received a call from my nephew who is a minister of the Highlands Baptist Church in Edmonton,” Tina Coletti, who started the effort by sewing items to raise awareness and support for Ukraine within Nelson.

“He and his congregation have sponsored Refugee families for several years and are partnering with the small organization: "Refugee Bridge" who had been coordinating Refugee's since 2017.”

“He asked if there is assistance in helping with monthly sponsorships to support the 15 Ukrainian families that Refugee Bridge is helping to coordinate,” Coletti added.

Coletti said the drive started following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

After dinner with Ukrainian friends, she began sewing “Hope Ribbons" that were seen on display during the Nelson Leafs playoff hockey games.

She then created some antenna flags and hearts before turning her sewing skills to making Prayer Flags to raise money for the Red Cross Humanitarian for Ukraine.

Tina Coletti started the cause by sewing flags, hearts and ribbons to raise money for the Red Cross Humanitarian for Ukraine. — Submitted photo

Now the cause has shifted to working with the Highlands Baptist Church to sponsor two Ukrainian families in the Nelson area.

“The Non-Profit is currently my nephew’s church who will handle any cash donations that people are seeking a tax-deductible receipt,” Coletti, a retired nurse, explained.

“We are hoping a Nelson church will take this. Things have moved quickly, and we are trying to coordinate a lot of pieces to this.”

Coletti said the plan is to assist in supports for food, medical expenses, counselling, clothing, technology (laptops/tablets/cell phones).

"We will be seeking assistance for donations to help with all of the above, if people have technology devices that can be donated in good condition, please contact me (on Facebook or via email:,” Coletti said.

The plan is to support these two families for four to six months and have them develop the life skills needed to be self-sufficient with employment, start understanding Canadian culture and then moving into their own rentals.

Coletti said as the rental market is so challenging in the Nelson area, these families may have to relocate after the initial time here.

Coletti said the Canadian government has quickly created a Ukrainian emergency displaced persons refugee/ temporary immigration program that differs from the standard offerings of most refugee programs.

“We will need to support services that are not covered within BC Healthcare, such as trauma counselling, as well as having left everything assist with clothing and other living expenses until they can navigate the English language, obtain employment and have their children attend the Canadian school system,” Coletti said.

Coletti estimates that at least $30,000 needs to be raised to support the two families.

There will be a fundraiser at Finley’s on Saturday, April 23, a Perogies/Koubasa and Beer night along with 50:50, Silent Auction, Door Prizes.

Coletti said this is a fun way to raise funds for Red Cross, and other Ukrainian projects such as the Ukrainian Refugee families.

The group is looking for cash donations and tax-deductible receipts are possible:

  • Donations: Cheques can be made out to: Highlands Baptist Church5351 112 Ave NW, Edmonton AB T5W 0N6
  • Place:Nelson Ukraine REFUGEE” in the note section of the cheque.

The fundraiser at Finley’s goes Saturday, April 23 with a Perogies/Koubasa and Beer night along with 50:50, Silent Auction, Door Prizes. — Submitted