It’s the beginning of a new life for Lesia Yaroshenko and her two boys, who have found their way to Manitoba after fleeing the Russian war in Ukraine.
They aren’t wasting any time getting settled despite battling jet lag.
They were off to meet with a principal Thursday at an English school for Yaroshenko’s youngest son, Vlad.
Yaroshenko says keeping busy helps her keep her mind off the war back home.
“It’s easier than being close to the conflict,” she said. “Here, I feel much more safe about my and my kids’ lives.”
After spending weeks in Warsaw, Poland, awaiting visa approvals, they finally made the trek to Canada — their first trans-Atlantic flight — almost 8,000 kilometres away from Kyiv.
Less than 48 hours ago, the family stepped off the plane with a backpack and a very special piece of home — Yaroshenko’s 16-year-old son Hnat’s guitar.
“I can buy here the new guitar all new, but something from my Ukrainian life is, it’s important to me,” Hnat said.
The guitar survived its journey across five countries, despite an unfortunate run-in with a new furry friend at the house where they’re staying with friends — which resulted in several broken strings.
Hnat was intending on studying sound engineering after graduating high school, before Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, he’s eager to discover Winnipeg’s music community and find a job.
Volunteers within the local Ukrainian community helped connect him with musicians and find him another instrument.
“I feel like it’s the beginning of my new life, and I can start from, like a new paper,” he said.
But the transition won’t be without its hurdles.
“It’s not easy because all of my friends are in Ukraine,” Hnat said.
He also left his dad behind, who’s fighting in the eastern part of the country.
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“I have not heard from him for some time, but we can message each other sometimes,” Yaroshenko said.
She said she doesn’t think they can head back for many years.
“I hope to find our peaceful home here,” Yaroshenko said. “That was my dream, to slow down a bit, to feel alive, not just to run all the time.”
“I see many people smiling (in Winnipeg), and maybe it’s just the Canadian style of having conversation and communication, but I feel like people are interested in us and they really care.”
Yaroshenko says they’re grateful to be on Canadian soil and ready to embrace their new life.
“I hope to feel the city, to understand it and to become a part of its life, and not only to take something from it, but as well, I would like to contribute to Winnipeg to be more diverse, colourful and happy.”
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