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Calgary couple from Russian-dominated region support Ukrainian newcomers

A Calgary couple who are grateful for the better life they found in Canada are now doing everything they can to support others coming here. They’re putting their talents to work to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Alex Kalika learned the shoe repair trade while growing up in Moldova, in the former Soviet Union.

“My father was a shoemaker – he taught me.” Kalika said.

Wanting to escape Soviet repression, Kalika came to Canada in 1980.

“I wanted a better life,” he said.

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For more than four decades, Kalika has been fixing footwear at his shop, the Calgary Shoe Hospital.

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He’s now using the earnings from his business to provide a better life for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

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“I’ve got two families I’m now sponsoring, from Ukraine,” Kalika said. “I help every month with food, with rent, everything.”

Kalika runs his shoe repair business in the back of the women’s clothing store his wife Svetlana Chep operates in the Beddington Towne Centre mall in northwest Calgary.

Chep is also eager to help people who’ve come to Canada from Ukraine, her homeland.

“Especially for one family – she’s a single mom with a child and they lost everything,” Chep said. “They need to know they’re not alone here, they need to feel loved, they need to feel support.”

Kalika and Chep feel fortunate to be able to help others find peace and prosperity in Canada.

“Canada’s the best country,” Kalika said. “I love Canada.”

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