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Ukrainian family settling in to new life in Weyburn

The Dmytryshyn family is settling in to a peaceful life in Weyburn, after fleeing their home in Ukraine in February.

WEYBURN – The Dmytryshyn family is finally able to settle in to a peaceful life again in their home in Weyburn, as they make a new life in Canada after fleeing their home in Ukraine in February when Russia invaded their country.

The family is comprised of husband Vasyl, age 42; mother Tetiana, age 41; two older sons, Oleg and Vitaly, aged 22 and 18; a daughter, Zlata, aged four, and son Vladislav, age two, along with a grandmother, Maria, age 72, who will be joining them later this month.

The Sunflower Network was able to arrange for the family to be on a flight on Aug. 10 out of Warsaw, Poland, and to be assisted in Weyburn by Darcy McCormick and local groups and agencies, which have helped the family to settle in to their new community and home. The Sunflower Network is an organization dedicated to helping refugees from Ukraine to find suitable communities in Saskatchewan to live in.

The family lived in Novyi Rozdil, a city located south of Lviv in western Ukraine, and had a very normal life, with Vasyl driving truck in Poland and Tetiana working as a hairdresser in a salon near her home. Their son Oleg drove taxi in Lviv, Vitaly attended college and daughter Zlata was in kindergarten, with their youngest, Vladislav, in the care of her mother Maria when she was working.

As Tetiana told of her “blooming lands, which are now plowed over by missiles,” she described how the family had celebrated the fourth birthday of their daughter Zlata on Feb. 23, and were then thrown into the fear of war.

“On the morning of Feb. 24, we woke up to sirens that began to buzz and it was reported throughout the city that the war had begun. Panic began in our city, the shops were full of people and they bought everything they saw. There were constant new reports of explosions in the east of the country, in Kyiv and the Kyiv region, and it was reported that there might be no electricity and water,” she said. “We collected water in everything that it was possible. I bought a lot of bread and started drying it in the oven.”

Tetiana received a phone call from her cousin Iryna in Poland, saying that she needed to bring her family to safety out of Ukraine to Poland. The family, except for Tetiana’a mother Maria (who didn’t want to leave her home), got into the car and they headed for the border crossing into Poland.

“There were huge queues at gas stations. We stood for five hours to fill up the car, and left late at night. Then we stood at the border for three days, queues were kilometers long, and people were leaving the country in a panic. When we crossed the Polish border, I had tears in my eyes from happiness that I could take the children to a safe place,” she said.

The family ended up in Warsaw, where a lawyer friend, Bogumil Zygmont, arranged for them to stay in an apartment, free of charge, for up to six months.

“As soon as I heard that there was an opportunity to go to Canada, I immediately started to draw up documents in order to get visas as soon as possible and go with the whole family to such a beautiful country. To be honest, I was not afraid to go to Canada because it is the safest country I know. I am sure that my children will be safe here and have a good, happy future,” said Tetiana.

She found information on the Internet about the Sunflower Network, which was helping Ukrainian families to find new homes in Canada, and emailed Steve Halabura, who immediately replied that he would help the family.

“After a while, Steve informed me that Darcy McCormick had agreed to help us. He had never dealt with it, but he would try his best,” she said.

Before they could come to their new home in Weyburn, the family had to quarantine in Regina for two weeks after their long flight to Canada.

“After that, Darcy and his wife came to pick us up personally and took us to the house they had prepared for us. It was incredible, they provided us with everything we needed to live in. I couldn't hold back the tears, they even hung our family photos on the wall in frames. It was as if I entered my own home, everything was very cozy and warm,” said Tetiana, noting that Darcy had also arranged for jobs for her husband and two oldest sons.

“I thank them infinitely for these feelings, they are incredible people with good hearts who help us in everything every day.”

Tetiana’s mother Maria has not yet joined her family, but is expected to arrive by the end of the month.

Tetiana noted they left behind family and friends in Ukraine, and has many mixed emotions about what is still happening to her country today.

“In Ukraine, I have many friends and relatives left, for whom I am very worried. I understand that they are in danger. Several times my friends saw rockets flying over our city, it was very scary, it was so loud that it stopped my ears. I am very sorry that my country is suffering from the Russian invasion, that people are dying. Putin does not even spare children, he is destroying my beautiful country, making ruins out of it. I am very sorry for my people, for my blooming lands, which are now plowed over by missiles,” she said. “I will not return until the war is over, I do not want to risk the lives of my children.”

“And most of all, I am grateful to God, who protected me and my family, and sent me good people on my way.”