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Ukrainians continue to settle in Calgary almost one year after Russian invasion


As the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine nears, immigration specialists say those fleeing the war are continuing to arrive in Calgary in large numbers as they attempt to restart their lives.

Many of those newcomers are greeted at the airport by fellow Ukrainians who moved to Calgary only months before.

"First of all, (Canada is) a very friendly country. And that's why they open their smile and hugs for us," said Halil Mentes, who arrived in Calgary on Tuesday evening with his wife Alina and two-year-old son Emir.

"It means a lot for us and we are hopeful for the young boy especially. Thank you."

The family's excitement for a new future is mixed with grief and concern for loved ones in their home country.

"Of course I have family who are still in Ukraine, and I am afraid for them, because every day some terrible things happen," said Alina Mentes.


The Makoshko family also arrived at the airport on Tuesday evening, and tell CTV News they chose Calgary specifically because of livability and affordability.

"When we were looking into different options and where we could raise our children we thought Calgary would be perfect for us," Viktoriia Makoshko, who arrived with her husband Makzym and her two children.

Although they had been living in Poland as Russia invaded Ukraine, moving home seemed less safe as the war stretched on

Now they've moved even further, yet still feel pained to discuss war developments.


Both families were greeted by Sofia Kamar, an airport reception counsellor.

She arrived in Calgary last June and soon after began working for the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) helping fellow Ukrainians with their first steps.


"So many people come as the survivors of trauma and they lost their house and they are not in a great psychological state, so we try to be patient as much as we can," said Kamar.

Her colleague also arrived in Calgary under four months ago, and offers support with the knowledge and perspective of what the more-recent arrivals may have fled from.

"It's my chance to be thankful and help people in same situation," said Hanna Vakhovska.

She says most Ukrainian newcomers are offered a big second chance by coming to Canada.


CCIS says this month it expects to receive more than 1,000 Ukrainians displaced by the war, up from 950 in January, under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) visa program.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC) is tracking over 500 weekly arrivals from Ukraine, and says of those, 46 per cent arrive in Calgary and 32 per cent in Edmonton.

"We believe that there's a lot of distress among the Ukrainians in Ukraine, and this is causing people to migrate and expedite their travels to Alberta," said Orysia Boychuk, UCC-APC president.

She says the Alberta community can continue to help ensure a smooth transition for newcomers to become contributors to the local economy.

"It goes back to the basis basics. It's food, it's housing, it's employment, it's English classes. When we get those four pillars under their feet, then we've got a workforce here that's contributing to economically getting Alberta going."

Since January 2022, the Canada Border Services Agency says that more than 167,585 people have arrived under the CUAET Visa program. Top Stories

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