From conflict to hope

A family's journey from Ukraine to Canada

Two women sitting on a red couch having a discussion. The woman on the left is speaking, while the woman on the right smiles and listens.

As Maryna began her day at home near the village of Sumy, nestled along the Russia-Ukraine border, she couldn’t have predicted the chaos that was about to unfold. She is a mother to two young sons and wife to a hardworking husband. Life in their little village had been peaceful and normal until the day that Russian military arrived on the road to Sumy.

Maryna remembers the moment vividly. She was at home with her children when she saw Russian tanks and soldiers passing by on the main road outside her house. She immediately called her husband Oleksii and told him to come home from work. They had only 15 minutes to pack whatever they could into a bag and flee to Maryna's parents' house.

In a panicked rush, Maryna and Oleksii grabbed their children and fled, leaving behind all their possessions except for Maryna’s most beloved possession - a golden Orthodox cross. She buried the rest of her jewelry in the hope that she would one day be able to return to Ukraine and retrieve it.

"On the day we left our home, we just didn't know what to do," Maryna recalls.

That day marked the beginning of a journey for Maryna’s family. For about two weeks, they waited at her parents' house, unsure of what their next move should be. Eventually, Ukraine and Russia opened six “green corridor” routes for Ukrainian residents to safely evacuate. When the green corridors opened, Maryna and her family left Ukraine and travelled through Moldova to find temporary refuge in Romania.

They knew that Romania was only a temporary solution. After three months, they travelled to Canada and checked into a hotel in Richmond, British Columbia where they stayed for another two months. It was in August 2022 that they connected with MCC.

MCC has played a vital role in supporting Maryna, Oleksii and their two sons as they tried to rebuild their lives. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we were able to provide Maryna’s family with many of the basics she and her family needed to get started in Canada. In partnership with other local organizations, we were able to provide things like a three-month rent subsidy, grocery gift cards, financial assistance for hydro and phone bills, food and furniture. MCC worker Stacy Dantsev has provided ongoing support such as translation services which helped the family navigate the resources available to them in the community, and even helped register Maryna's sons for school.

A woman and man sitting near flowers with two young boys
Maryna (left), Oleksii (right), and their two sons are grateful for the ongoing support they have received since coming to Canada. (Photo courtesy of Maryna and Oleksii)

Thanks to the additional support provided by MCC, Oleksii was able to secure a successful job in the construction industry. Despite this progress, Maryna and her family still face challenges as they continue to acclimate to life in Canada. They find the systems confusing and still rely on translation services and transportation to English classes. But they are grateful to have ongoing support from MCC.

The family continues to recover from trauma, adapt to Canadian culture and learn English. As Oleksii’s construction job requires many days and nights away from home, Maryna and Oleksii’s two young boys have relied on Maryna to guide them through these new challenges.

"If it wasn't for MCC, I would have needed to work evenings and place my kids in daycare – we wouldn't see them," Maryna says. "We couldn't have done anything without these settlement supports.”

The story of Maryna’s family is a testament to the power of resettlement support in helping Ukrainians begin anew and thrive.

Every week, new Ukrainian families arrive in British Columbia, and with each arrival, the need for support grows. MCC's Ukrainian Resettlement Program has made an enormous difference for Maryna’s family, but they can't do it alone. We rely on the continued support of compassionate people like you to provide crucial support to Ukrainian families like Maryna’s as they continue to arrive in our backyard.