Ukrainian refugees arrive in Gimli – Winnipeg

Daria Chyrakh and her partner Anton Intiuk came to Canada two weeks after their home town of Kyiv was bombed by Russia.

“Other countries said to Ukraine, ‘Russia can start a war in your country’ but we thought it was impossible,” Chyrakh explains. “When we saw the bombings we understand it’s really (dangerous).”

“The second day or third day (of bombings) my husband said, we must go to another place to save our lives.”

Soon they’ll be joined by more than 50 other refugees at Gimli’s Training Centre. The empty building is formerly known as the CN Training Centre.

The Gimli Chamber of Commerce is providing room and board for free for two months.

Small dormitory rooms with a bed, desk and sink awaiting the arrival of refugees. Volunteers around the community have worked for months to gather supplies.

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“They’re just happy to have a safe space and just a home for now while they get their lives set up in Canada,” Romanna Klympiw, a volunteer shares.

The Training Centre has been turned in to a temporary living accommodation for refugees until they are able to find permanent housing.

“Everything you see in the building right now is donations from community members….so all of the toiletries, cleaning supplies, towels, everything has been donated which is just fantastic to see,” says Klympiw.

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They left Ukraine in the early days of the attacks with a small amount of money and clothes, then fled to Paris for three months.

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“We lose our work, we rented an apartment so we don’t have money to pay our bills,” she says.

Now in Canada, they left behind her mother in Europe while their other parents stayed in Ukraine.

The couple receives alerts to their phone when air strikes begin in Ukraine.

“They have air signal and I have too in my phone, an air signal, so I know when they are bombing or not bombing near Kyiv,” Anton Intiuk says.

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His parents remain in Kyiv and he phones home every day. He hopes they can join them in Gimli.

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Gimli’s Chamber of Commerce created a job board specifically for Ukrainians to help connect them with available work opportunities.

“I’m trying to match people to jobs they might enjoy based off what they did in Ukraine,” Melanie Specula the Co-President of the Chamber told Global News.

From carpentry to workers in their fish plant, she says there’s more than 100 jobs available so far.

“All of our businesses were desperate for employers and we really had the accommodations to house these Ukrainian refugees, so I thought it was a win win situation.”

Daria and Anton hope to return to Ukraine some day.

“It was a very beautiful country with good culture and a big heart so we must go back to help other ukrainians build our country,”  she says. “It is our city, it is our country, and it’s very painful.”

For now, they’re looking forward to Chyrakh’s mother to arrive in Canada very soon along with her pet cat.

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The community posts regular updates and required donations on its Facebook page. 

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