A family of four that fled the war in Ukraine to come live in Calgary are thankful they are not in danger this Thanksgiving.
The recent arrivals are now offering their home back in Ukraine to those in need who have lost everything in a missile strike.
When Kateryna Sushko and her family made the difficult decision to leave their home in Ukraine, they had no luck finding a host family in Calgary but were thankful to find a landlord who offered a place to rent without requiring jobs or references.
“Here, when we found the apartment, I was so happy. And I could sit and finally breathe out and sleep well because I knew we don’t have to run,” Sushko said on Sunday.
Sushko’s family had just moved into a their new home in Dnipro, Ukraine last November.
A few months later, Russia invaded their country and they left everything behind. They sold the car and borrowed money to pay for tickets. Sushko, her daughter and her mom joined her husband who had been working in Czechia (The Czech Republic). They stayed there for a month until they could make arrangements to come to Canada.
“It breaks my heart. I cry all the time, all the time when I see the damages in the missiles attacks,” Sushko said.
But still the pre-school teacher who holds two university degrees is grateful because now another family is finding shelter in her home in Dnipro.
A family of four whose home was destroyed in a missile attack in Kharkiv needed a place to stay, so Sushko and her husband offered their home to the displaced family.
“They sent us pictures and we are so grateful. They are really sweet people and we have become friends now,” Sushko said.
Sushko and her husband both have jobs now and her mom is helping look after their four-year-old daughter. They are sending what funds they can back to friends in Ukraine.
“Friends helped us to come here, to rent the Airbnb apartment for the first two weeks and we had to borrow money. We also help my grandma and we tell all of our friends that if you will need any financial help we will gladly help you because for us $100 or $200 now is one trip to the store and for them it’s one or two weeks of living,” Sushko said.
While Sushko, who speaks fluent Russian, Ukrainian and English, is angry that much of the area bordering her home has been annexed by Russia, she’s thankful for those who are defending her country.
“I’m really very proud of our soldiers and grateful and I thank them because in my area we can still live a quite normal life just because of them,” Sushko said.
The Sushko family plans to celebrate their first Thanksgiving with a Canadian family they recently met.
“We are just grateful to the universe that we can be here and in a safe place with such wonderful people, these Canadians,” Sushko said.
“They are so kind. They are so helpful. I appreciate their help.”
Through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET) Ukrainian nationals and their family members can apply for a temporary resident visa to travel to and stay in Canada temporarily.
600,551 applications have been received and 290,818 have been approved between Mar. 17 and Oct. 4, 2022.
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