Courage carries displaced Ukrainian family to Manor Park

By Christiane Kirkland

Ukranian family Iryna Yuchkova, right, and her daughter Victoria arrived in Ottawa in early October,
Iryna Yuchkova, right, and her daughter Victoria arrived in Ottawa in early October, the same day Russian missiles began striking their home city of Ivano Frankivsk. The attacks grew so heavy that, on October 10, all transportation in and around the city was halted and its mayor beseeched residents to stay in shelters as much as possible. By late October, more than 1,000 towns and villages across Ukraine were without power because of missile and drone strikes. Photo: Doug Banks

Thanks to Dagmara Brunst, a generous and welcoming Manor Park resident, a Ukrainian mother and her daughter were able to leave troubled Ukraine to find a home in Ottawa. Iryna Yuchkova and her daughter Victoria are so grateful for this wonderful act of compassion. My meeting with the three of them was a delight and a witnessing of courage and hope.

Iryna and Victoria arrived in Ottawa on October 6th, the night their city, Ivano Frankivsk, was bombed. Iryna’s sister, who lives in the US, made all the necessary arrangements for their entry into Canada. And for our interview, she acted as our interpreter.

When I asked Dagmara what prompted her to be a host for Ukrainians, this was her response: “Part of why I took them in is because I am inspired by the thought that we are one, that we should live in a consciousness of taking care of the earth and each other, that we as individuals are the cells of a far larger organism that will have amazing life, beauty, wisdom, love and power, when we realize this.”

When asked what touched them most on their arrival in Ottawa, Iryna said: “Everything is so different and hopeful; people are overwhelmingly kind, downtown Ottawa is breathtaking. The welcoming is so grateful: it is beyond words.”

Both mother and daughter are slowly settling in. Their biggest challenge at this point is the language barrier, and with a touch of humour, Iryna adds: “… and recycling …. trying to figure it out!”

Reaching out

Thanks to Dagmara’s contacts, Iryna was able to find eight housekeeping jobs. Meanwhile, Victoria, her reserved 20-year-old daughter, would enjoy a dog walking job; with a gentle dog, that is! Since she cannot attend school and is not yet able to speak English, dog-walking would be an easy way for Victoria to start connecting with people and earning a little money. Time, willingness to learn, and tapping into different sources for English lessons, will eventually fill the language gap.

To help Iryna and Victoria integrate into Canadian life, Dagmara is reaching out to the community for added support. Giving a hand with technology and transportation would be very much appreciated. Invitations for a meal at home, outings with the family, or any other social interactions would boost the Ukrainian family in settling into our Manor Park neighbourhood. Could our Manor Park Community Association sponsor an art class or other activity, for Victoria?

If anyone is interested in helping, please email Dagmara at: Dagmara would also like to express her heartfelt thanks for all the help she has already received from the neighbourhood.

There is undoubtedly mutual admiration between these loveable Ukrainian women and their warm-hearted Canadian host! For Dagmara: “Iryna and Victoria show so much courage and have such a positive attitude.”

For Iryna, her gratitude shows no bounds: “We are so thankful we are alive and so lucky to be able to start a new life with hope for the future. We want to thank all the people in this country from the bottom of our hearts.”