Finance Minister Cameron Friesen arrives for a pre-budget event at the Ukrainian National Federation building on Main Street in Winnipeg on Mon., April , . KEVIN KINGWinnipeg SunPostmedia Network Photo by KEVIN KING Kevin KingWinnipeg Sun
Typically, the day before a Canadian finance minister delivers that year’s budget, they will go purchase a new pair of shoes. Manitoba’s finance minister bucked that trend by handing out shoeboxes full of personal products for recently displaced Ukrainians fleeing the war started by Russian invaders.

Cameron Friesen was on hand at the Ukrainian National Federation in Winnipeg’s North End on Monday to make the announcement ahead of the provincial budget delivery at the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday.

While Friesen called the move to provide shoeboxes of personal hygiene products symbolic in nature, he stressed that it signifies the “unique cultural connection” Manitoba has with Ukraine. Data from the census shows that Manitoba has the most people of Ukrainian descent in Canada.

Friesen was joined by fellow cabinet ministers and committed to helping out as many Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression as the province can. He said there are , Ukrainians who have arrived in Canada with most of them settling in larger cities.

“Essentially, what we’ve said is, as many people who will raise their hand and say they want to resettle in Manitoba, we will take that number,” Friesen told reporters.

Friesen said there have been , emergency visa applications with , approved by the federal government.

The finance minister hinted the budget has “fully contemplated” the crisis in Ukraine but offered little detail as to what that may look like.

“We knew that the situation was deteriorating in Ukraine,” Friesen said. “So, behind the scenes, we’ve been making preparations financially. We’ve also been making preparations operational.”

The federal and provincial governments have said they would waive the visa application fees, but for Alina Roshko and her two children, those fees were not waived. Roshko, who arrived in Winnipeg two weeks ago and was in attendance on Monday, waited for a month in the Czech Republic before coming to Canada.

Roshko’s sister, Valerie Alipova and her partner Jim Cheng fronted the $ it cost to process the visas.

Roshko said she appreciated the support from the government but ultimately would like to go back to Ukraine.

Adjusting to life in Winnipeg has been difficult given that Roshko’s husband and younger sister — who is eight months pregnant — are still overseas. Roshko told of her child hearing a bell at school, which she assumed was an air raid siren.

Alipova said as soon as the Russian invasion happened in late February, she was reaching out to her sister saying they had a place for them.

More than . million Ukrainians have been displaced as a result of the Russian invasion, according to data from the United Nations.

Sign up to receive daily headline news from the Winnipeg SUN, a division of Postmedia Network .

By clicking on the sign up button you consent to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network . You may unsubscribe any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network . | Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, MW L | —

A welcome email is on its way. If you don t see it, please check your junk folder.

The next issue of The Winnipeg Sun s Daily Headline News will soon be in your inbox.