Ukrainian family shares their journey to Canada

Ukrainian family shares their journey to Canada

July 28, 2022

The Miliutin family's first day at their host's home in North Bay, Ontario - Canada

The Miliutin family landed in Canada in June this year. Oleksndr, 35 years old, arrived with his wife, Hanna (same age), and their two young sons, 8 and 6. His younger sister, Tetiana, 33, and niece, 4 managed to travel with them.

Through our campaign to assist Ukrainians resettling in Canada, Good Neighbors Canada is providing regular, ongoing communication with a case manager for six months, who is connecting the family with local organizations and sources of support for each of their needs. They also received financial support for daily essentials for four weeks.

Oleksndr used to work in crypto mining and Hanna ran her own store. The family is currently living in North Bay, Ontario, under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIT) program. The six of them currently share two rooms in a host’s house. Oleksndr has agreed to talk to us about the impact the Ukrainian war has had on them.

Oleksndr with his wife and boys on the right, next to his sister and niece (wearing red jackets)
Oleksndr with his wife and boys on the right, next to his sister and niece (wearing red jackets)

Good Neighbors Canada: Could you tell me a bit about your background and describe a typical day in your life in Ukraine?

Oleksndr: We really liked our life in Ukraine. We had an apartment, a car, and businesses that brought us good money. On weekdays, children would usually go to school and engage in different extra-curricular activities, while adults would go to work. Weekends were a special time for our family that we tried to spend together having fun, or meeting our friends, whom we now miss very much.

GNCA: What were you doing when you first heard about the invasion? When did you realize the best decision was to leave for Canada?

O: On February 7, 2022, our family flew to Egypt for a four-week vacation. We were still there when we learned about the war. On February 24, we woke up to messages, sent by our friends, about the bomb attacks. The events took a terrible turn from that moment on. We spent days watching the news and trying to get in touch with our family and friends. A month later, we started to realize that it was not possible to predict when the war would end and when it would be safe for us to return to Ukraine. That was when we decided to apply for a Canadian visa.

GNCA: I heard it was challenging for some people to leave because taxi prices were so high, and there was no gasoline for example... Can you share some of the special challenges your family faced in the process of leaving your country?

O: Within Ukraine, prices skyrocketed. There was no gasoline at gas stations, all roads were congested with cars, and people ran for their lives. My sister, who was in Ukraine when the war broke out, spent two days driving to get to the border, a route that usually takes only four to five hours. It was very dangerous and many people, who tried to leave Ukraine, found death on the way. There were cases when rows of cars with civilians were attacked, and it didn’t matter if there were children on board. I was very grateful my family was abroad at that time, but we were extremely worried about my sister and our friends who were trying to leave Ukraine.

GNCA: Could you tell us what you managed to bring (in general terms) and how you felt when you landed here?

O: We came here only with suitcases of summer clothes since we had to fly directly from our vacation in Egypt.

When we boarded the plane, we felt sad that we had to flee our home country. As soon as we landed in Canada, we immediately felt safe. That was the most important thing. The benevolence of Canadians, trying to help in every way, was something we quickly noticed.

GNCA: How have you and your family assimilated to Canada so far and the biggest help you received?

O: We were lucky to find a woman who took our family into her home. We were also lucky to meet a person who offered to pay for our flight from Egypt to Canada. There are a lot of good people here who are willing to help. They helped us to obtain all required documents, and to enroll children in school and summer camps. We received donations of clothes and toys for the kids, and we are very grateful for all support received!

GNCA: Is there anything you would like to say to supporters of our campaigns to help Ukrainians resettle in Canada?

O: We would like to thank all supporters of the campaign for their donations, allowing families like ours to receive financial support toward daily essentials and have access to a lot of useful information!

Thank you!

We are very grateful for all of the supporters who have contributed to our Ukrainians in Canada campaign so far. Your help has been fundamental in assisting families like the Miliutins.