Ukrainian families
The Mariupol families who were hosted by Toomas Marley sing Marley happy birthday on his 70th birthday. (Photo supplied by Toomas Marley)

Toomas Marley has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Since May 2022, he’s hosted four Ukrainian families in his three-bedroom, semi-detached in Toronto home, each family for two to three months at a time. 

“I’m a single guy,” said Marley, who is 70 years old. “So I’ve got two bedrooms available.”

Marley’s parents were once refugees themselves, fleeing Estonia from Russia’s Red Army in 1944. “This is my way of paying it forward,” Marley told Canadian Affairs.

All the families have now moved out of Marley’s Davisville home, found jobs, schools for their children and a growing community of Ukrainian refugees in Toronto. The city has been acutely affected by an influx of refugees and asylum seekers, and has insufficient space for them in city shelters.

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Fin DePencier is a journalist, photographer and filmmaker based in Toronto. Over the past few years, he has reported on the ground from Ukraine, Armenia, Lebanon and Kazakhstan as a correspondent for Palladium...