By Mark Squibb / July 7, 2023
About 135 Ukraine refugees, 40 of them children, were treated by a local charter bus company to a trip around the bay this past Canada Day Weekend.
“A lot of them come here but don’t get to see beyond a few hundred metres from where they’re staying,” said Terry Parsons of Parsons and Sons, the Seal Cove, CBS-based bus company that has been making memories while transporting students, athletes, tourists and sports fans throughout the province for decades. “We thought this would be a nice gesture to welcome them to Newfoundland and show them a little bit of our province… These people have really been through the wringer. They’ve had to endure a lot. And if we could give them just one day where they’re not worried about home, they’re not consumed by what’s going on in their country, I think we’ve done a good thing.”
The company made available buses and employees, at its own cost, to pick up folks at the Association of New Canadians building in St. John’s early Sunday morning and treat them to ‘an excursion around the bay.’ The first stop of the day was Brigus for a walking tour of the historic community. Next on the itinerary was Harbour Grace. There the Ukrainians enjoyed cold plates and pizza at the Danny Cleary Stadium, followed by a stroll along the bay to see the stranded SS Kyle, the Amelia Earhart statue, and Spirit of Harbour Grace airplane. Local musicians also provided live entertainment.
On the return trip to the capital city, the buses stopped in Holyrood for the guests to enjoy some soccer with equipment provided by the Town of CBS.
Parsons said the list of companies willing to donate for the day trip was as long as his arm.
“It’s been heartwarming to do this program just to see all the people who were willing to go the extra mile to help us and work together and make this work,” said Parsons. “If you and I were in a similar situation, having left our country, having left everything, and we’re living in a strange land with a different language with a different alphabet, we would want someone to extend a hand to us. I think something like this offers something wonderful for the kids. They get to have some pizza, they get to see some of their new country, they get to play on a really cool playground and kick around the soccer ball at the field.”
Parsons and Sons has also been providing training to Ukrainians and have hired six of them as bus drivers.