WEYBURN – A mother and daughter from Ukraine, Nadia and Anna Kalinichuk, are very grateful to be in Weyburn with the help of the Catholic Women’s League of the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, and the Southeast Newcomers organization.
In an interview, Nadia spoke about how she and Anna came to be in Weyburn, and what some of their experiences were in their home town of Ternopil in western Ukraine, before they had to leave due to the Russian invasion.
In Ukraine, Nadia worked at two jobs, at the Western Ukrainian National University at the Department of Tourism and Hotel Business as a teacher, and at a hotel and restaurant complex.
“I found out about the military invasion in the morning when I was helping my daughter get dressed for school, but I couldn't believe that it was really happening, that it wasn't a dream,” recalled Nadia. “Imagine that you go to bed in the evening, you have plans for tomorrow, for the next week, and suddenly everything disappears, becomes irrelevant. Several times a day you hear air raid signals and you have to run for cover. No rockets landed in our city of Ternopil, but you had to constantly hide, because you don’t know for sure if they will be able to shoot down a rocket so that it doesn’t fly into the city.”
She added that the worst part was at night as they slept with the TV on, “because we were afraid to miss the notification about the air alarm. My daughter learned to quickly dress herself and run to the shelter. It is dark on the street, and the loud sound of sirens is everywhere. At the beginning of the war, we sat in cold shelters for five to six hours. We had folded bags with the most necessary things and documents, which we constantly took with us to the shelter.”
After they were able to leave the country and make their way to Canada, Nadia and Anna were met by an uncle who lives in Weyburn, and helped them with housing for the first month, for which the pair are very grateful.
“The decision to move to Canada was very deliberate, meaning I learned a lot about Canada and the differences in mentality, therefore adapting to this lifestyle was relatively easy,” said Nadia.
Asked if she might consider going back to Ukraine if or when the war ends, she said that is very unlikely.
“Even if the war ends, there will always be a threat of a military attack from Russia. Unfortunately, these neighbors will not move anywhere. I don't want to live with the expectation of waking up in the morning to the words, ‘The war has started again.’ And I don’t want my child to live in constant agony. We have a family left in Ukraine, but they are safe and do not want to leave their homes yet,” she said, adding if it becomes necessary to help her family leave Ukraine, they are ready to help them.
“My daughter Anna and I fell in love with Weyburn and are very glad we settled here. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported and helped us, and continues to help us here in Weyburn,” she said.
One of the ways that the Southeast Newcomers and CWL helped the pair was to arrange for new bikes for them both through the Canadian Tire store in Weyburn. On the day they were able to pick out their bikes, Anna was so happy to get her bike that she was riding circles in the parking lot as they took it out from the store to a friend’s vehicle to take them home.