At the Hotel Terrasse Royal in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighborhood, most guests aren’t on vacation, but are Ukrainians who’ve just arrived in town.
Ukrainian Canadian Igor Ezril shuttles between donations and running a business.
“We want to help people who come,” he said. “We have lived here for 20 years, [and] we have the opportunity to help them.”
Igor and his daughter Sandra opened their doors to people fleeing conflict in Ukraine last month. They offer food and a place to sleep.
Fifteen families have already stayed at the hotel and the back of the hotel has been transformed into a playground for the children who must have grown up quickly.
“It’s very dangerous in Ukraine,” said Ada Yuvtushinko, 19, who is staying at the hotel with her mother and three siblings. “Everything is getting worse. We came here for a better and safer life.”
Pastor Petr Dvoinikh came to the hotel for his safety after escaping from Mariupol.
“When I remember Mariupol, it’s very hard, it’s very painful,” he said, adding that nothing can erase the pain, but the temporary sanctuary helps.
The hotel owner also owns several CDN apartment buildings where Ukrainian newcomers can stay for free long term.
Once this happens, more rooms will open for the next set of arrivals.
“I think they’re going to come and go, it’s not going to stop tomorrow,” manager Sandra Ezril said. “We would like this place to not just be a donation center, but a place where they can find more information.”