Two years after Russian invasion, Ukrainians continue to arrive in Manitoba

Saturday marks two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, and many Ukrainians continue to seek refuge in Canada.

Manitoba alone has welcomed thousands of people forced to leave their war-torn homeland. Nearly 29,000 Ukrainians have arrived at the province’s reception centre in the Winnipeg airport, and more than 23,600 provincial health cards issued.

They include people like Mila Shykota, who decided to move to Winnipeg and call Canada ‘home’ in August 2022.

“When several fragments attacked several houses near us and destroyed people’s homes, we decided to leave Ukraine to avoid the threat to our lives,” she said.

Moving here was an easy choice because her husband used to go to the University of Manitoba almost a decade ago, she said. “I knew everything about the winters in Manitoba and we had friends here.”

Story continues below advertisement

The family also moved to an area with a dense Ukrainian population. “When I just came to Canada I was impressed by how big the Ukrainian community in Manitoba is, and how Canadians support Ukraine and Ukrainians,” Shykota said.

Get the latest National news. Sent to your email, every day.

Joanne Lewandoski, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Manitoba Provincial Council said, per capita, Winnipeg has the most Ukrainians in Canada.

More on World

Lewandoski has helped Shykota — along with thousands of others fleeing war — settle in Manitoba over the last two years. “By the end of March, we expect 7,000 people to the province of Manitoba. Daily, we are getting between 25 and 35 people coming in at the airport and these are families,” she said.

Statistics from the Ukrainian Refugee Task Force show that since Russia invaded Ukraine, around 10 per cent of arrivals come to Manitoba. Of those newcomers, around 16 per cent settled outside of Winnipeg in more rural communities.

“I want to say it is a pleasure to work for our brothers and sisters who’ve chosen to come to Manitoba but it’s not an easy voyage,” Lewandoski said, something newcomers like Shykota can confirm. Escaping a violent war just to start over in a new country halfway across the world isn’t a slice of pie.

Now Shykota is waiting for her mom to make the same journey.

Story continues below advertisement

“Every time I see the news feed and I read that the Russian missiles attacked Ukraine, I text my mom and ask her ‘How are you?’ ‘Where are you?’ ‘Go to the safety place.’ We are keeping in touch with her,” she said.

“A couple of days ago we received confirmation of her Canadian visa. So hopefully this summer she will be able to come to me.”

Her sister and niece joined here just a few days ago.

–with files from Global’s Teagan Rasche 

Click to play video: 'Manitoba First Nation member dies fighting in Ukraine, chief commends sacrifice'

Manitoba First Nation member dies fighting in Ukraine, chief commends sacrifice

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.