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English teacher Marina (standing) is helping Ukrainians displaced by the war get settled in their new home of Dauphin, Man.KIA CANADA/ELAINE FANCY

Tucked into the southwestern corner of Manitoba, Dauphin is a small city with a big heart. Since last March, the community of 10,000 people has welcomed 54 young Ukrainian families with open arms, helping them settle into their new lives.

The Parkland Ukrainian Family Fund (PUFF), first set up to help bring three Ukrainian families to Dauphin, recently launched the Education to Employment Project to teach English to newcomers so they can find better jobs, says committee volunteer Pam Iwanchysko.

“As we got more and more families coming to the community, we realized the demand was going to be far greater than we’d anticipated,” she says.

A grant from Kia Canada’s Communities in Motion program – which has earmarked $1.4 million to help grassroots organizations across Canada foster transformative community-level change – enabled PUFF to hire two teachers and purchase books and supplies for the program. Since June, many of the participants have used their improved English skills to find new jobs.

“One lady who came here with her two children – her husband’s still in Ukraine – is a lawyer but her English skills were weak, so she started as a cleaning lady. She’s now working in a law office as a legal assistant,” says Ms. Iwanchysko.

Supporting communities from coast to coast

Launched last year with an inaugural cohort of nine groups, Kia Communities in Motion is continuing its charitable efforts through to 2025. This year, seven community charities have received funding for programs that reflect the brand’s belief in “movement that inspires.”

To find potential projects, Kia partners with Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), which works with 206 charitable foundations across the country. This year’s 40 candidates were identified by foundations in St. Andrew’s, N.B., Quebec City, Oakville, Ont., Squamish, B.C., and Dauphin, Man.

The Kia–CFC partnership aims to help Canadian communities thrive by encouraging physical, social, economic and environmental mobility, says Elias El-Achhab, Kia Canada’s vice-president and chief operating officer.

“The brand sees movement at the core of human development so the program was developed to support movement in communities across the country, providing charities and the recipients of their efforts the time, space and funding to find inspiration to move people and communities forward,” says El-Achhab.

Ground-breaking projects find equitable, creative solutions

The seven funded programs are driving meaningful change for communities across Canada.

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With Kia Canada's support, the Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw Valley Garden Project – overseen by Karen Clarke (left) and Christine Baker-TlatlaKwot – built 50 garden boxes to help alleviate food insecurity and connect community members on traditional food-growing techniques.KIA CANADA/ELAINE FANCY

In Squamish, B.C., the Squamish Nation – Squamish Valley Operations’ Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw Valley Garden Project used the funding to build 50 garden boxes to help address food insecurity, while also connecting elders and youth on learning about Indigenous traditions and knowledge.

Near Oakville, Ont., the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton is using its funds to produce and distribute a video documentary, Finding Freedom on the Sixteen, about African freedom-seekers who settled in Halton in the mid-1800s. Through the film, students will learn about this little-known population of Black settlers and their lasting impact on Halton.

Other recipients include two in New Brunswick – the Community Connections for Newcomers program and Youth Launch, which helps young people with education and housing – as well as Generation Green, a youth-led project run by the Halton Climate Collective in southern Ontario, and a language program organized by Quebec City’s Multiethnic Centre.

Corporate support drives successful communities

The work of building inclusive, progressive communities depends on locals’ involvement in finding and enacting solutions, says CFC president Andrea Dicks.

Collaborative funding from corporate and philanthropic sectors can absolutely enable that change and Kia Canada’s Communities in Motion program is proof, she says.

“Projects funded through this important program highlighting the strength and innovation of charities and non-profits—they exemplify how solutions driven by community create the greatest impact for long-term sustainable change and a future where everyone belongs,” says Ms. Dicks.

Partnering with Kia Communities in Motion has allowed CFC to expand its work to help deliver meaningful change that will positively impact generations to come, she adds: “In the first two years of our partnership, we’ve fueled incredible projects from Kamsack, Sask., to Montreal, Que., and we’re looking forward to seeing what the next two years will bring.”

Back in Dauphin, Kia Canada’s funding has helped bring newcomers and long-time residents together, says Ms. Iwanchysko.

“It’s been a true success story for our community. Now that we’ve had an opportunity to bring in young Ukrainian families, we’re filling up our schools again, and we have people working on farms, and in hospitals and daycares. More than 100 Ukrainian adults have come here, and all of them have jobs,” she says.

“We would’ve never been able to do what we’re doing without Kia Canada’s support. This program is providing opportunities for them to get better jobs, so they’ll be successful. Seven families have already purchased homes, so they’re here to stay. It’s incredible.”

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Kia. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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