‘It’s been life-changing’: Ukrainian refugee and host family celebrate Easter together in Calgary

Hundreds of people gathered with family members at St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in northeast Calgary for Easter services on Sunday.

But some Ukrainians are separated from family back home.

Maria Mitiasova wished her mom in Ukraine Happy Easter from her new home in Calgary.  Mitiasova arrived in Calgary on April 8 from Bila Tserkva, a city south of Kyiv.

“It was of course very hard to make this decision, based on the fact that I had to leave my family behind, but it became very unbearable — going to sleep every night, and waking up with the air alarms and air raids, and just sleeping in the shelter — [it] became very exhausting,” Mitiasova said.

Images of a church service at St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Sobor on Sunday, April 24, 2022. Global News

Read more: Calgary women help abandoned pets in Ukraine as need for food and medicine grows

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Mitiasova is now staying with Calgary personal wellness coach Rebecca Garland and her husband. They met through Facebook.

“The city welcomed me very well, and being in Calgary and being at my host home, [it] feels like being in my new home — but in Canada,” Mitiasova said.

“I feel very comfortable here, and I feel very well welcomed, and I get tremendous support.”

Garland said deciding to become a host was a matter of asking herself what her values are.

“For me it was a no brainer. People are fleeing for their lives,” Garland said.

She added having a guest from Ukraine has been a wonderful experience.

“I have loved it.  We call each other sisters. We are her Canadian family.  We connect really really well. It’s been life-changing in a very good way,” Garland said.

“I wish this wasn’t the circumstances because I know it’s heartbreaking for Maria to leave her family and friends.”

Read more: ‘I will gain more than I will give’: Calgary doctor welcomes three women fleeing war in Ukraine into her home

Mitiasova said the hardest part of being here is being away from her family, but she keeps busy with exercise, new friends and she’s got a job already in Calgary with the same IT company she was with in Ukraine.

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“I was so lucky to get the job offer here, so I can continue working for the same company and getting the support from this company,” Mitiasova said.

She said the owner of TEKTELIC Communications is of Ukrainian origin but moved to Canada and established the company here.

“The company is actually doing a great job helping Ukrainians, sending lots of medical equipment and sending radio communication equipment to support the soldiers and army in Ukraine,” Mitiasova said.

Garland said even if Calgarians are not in a position to host people coming from Ukraine there is much people can do.

“The need is great: for extra hands, helping find host families, pick-ups from the airport, helping evacuees find jobs, gathering donations, fundraisers, contacting our MP’s for support and financial aid,” Garland said.

Click to play video: 'Albertans continue to step up support for Ukraine as the war marks a grim milestone' Albertans continue to step up support for Ukraine as the war marks a grim milestone

Albertans continue to step up support for Ukraine as the war marks a grim milestone – Apr 14, 2022

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