Home » Local Woman Grateful For Support to Help Bring Family to Canada From Ukraine

Local Woman Grateful For Support to Help Bring Family to Canada From Ukraine

by Shanine Sealey

The current situation in Ukraine has many of us glued to the news and social media to stay updated; however, for a Martensville family, this situation hits a little too close to home. Olya Vasyleha moved to Canada from Ukraine in 2008 with her daughter Stella, who was 2.5 years old at the time. Now, Vasyleha, who became a Canadian citizen in 2016; is the proud mother of five, with the oldest Stella, who is now 16, Alexei, who is 9.5, Nazar, who is 8, Nataly, who is 5 and the youngest – Sophiia, who is 3.5.

With most of her family still in Ukraine, Vasyleha has spent more than a month worrying about those she loves that are currently living in a small-town north of Sumy, close to the Russian border in Northern Ukraine. Her family sleeps in their clothes in case they are forced to flee, and that is when sleep occurs, which is a rarity these days. There is tinfoil on the windows of their homes to prevent Russian military from seeing in or knowing that they are there. Moving around freely is a big problem and Vasyleha’s family rarely leave their homes as it is dangerous to go anywhere.

“They are afraid of soldiers shooting into their homes. With the recent news of the deaths/murders in Buccha, they know about what the soldiers are doing to people and they are afraid,” Vasyleha said.

Vasyleha’s mother, sister and niece have been waiting for a green light for travel so they can leave Sumy and go to Poland. From there, they will travel to Canada to be with Vasyleha and her children in Martensville. The “green light”, which Vasyleha explained means the humanitarian corridor, has not been opened since March 18th.

“My sister’s husband, her other daughter and grandson are staying behind. We want my niece and her son to come with the rest of the family, but they are not. The men stay behind to fight,” Vasyleha added.

As soon as there is a green light, the three family members will leave. As of Monday, April 4th, the possibility for travel saw a glimmer of hope as there is a tentative plan in place to hire a driver to take them from Sumy to Poland on Saturday, April 9th. The plan is not set in stone and more will be known as the week progresses.

Numerous fundraisers have been organized to help raise funds to bring Vasyleha’s family to Martensville. The ‘Local Love Saskatchewan Shopping Guide’ group on Facebook is currently hosting an online auction style fundraiser, ‘Fundraiser for Ukraine Asylum Seekers’. The purpose of this fundraiser is to help raise funds to purchase plane tickets for the three women to travel to Canada. All proceeds will go directly towards supporting the family. Already, Vasyleha noted that this fundraiser has brought in enough funds to help hire a driver (tentatively) for her family to travel to Poland rather than wait for a train.

There will also be a Perogy and Sausage Night fundraiser held at the Cork and Kettle in Warman on Saturday, April 16th that will include a silent auction and door prize.

Donations can also be made via a GoFundMe page created by Vasyleha’s daughter Stella, who was born in Ukraine, which can be found by searching ‘Help me bring my family to Canada – Ukraine Crisis’ on GoFundMe. “I love my culture and have been showing my support through Ukrainian dance, spreading awareness on my social media platforms, and donating to fundraisers to help Ukraine. I, myself, currently have family living in Ukraine who need help. My mom and I are looking to raise money to be able to bring them here. For them to have the opportunity for a better quality of life than they have right now,” Stella states on the fundraiser.

Additional support has also been provided by Affinity Credit Union in Martensville, who helped by opening an account so all funds raised can be deposited and distributed to help get Vasyleha’s family here.

Once the family arrives, additional items such as clothing and hygiene items will be required, as they will only be travelling with a suitcase. “We hope to use some of the funds to help with that and to help them settle here. Donation items like that are being accepted right now in Saskatoon at Thrive Hearing Solutions, or you can contact them, and they will pick them up,” explained Vasyleha.

The amount of support and compassion that has been shown to Vasyleha and her family has been incredible. Saskatchewan has strong Ukrainian roots and the people of this province have shown that this has not been forgotten. “I feel excited and can’t believe that people would help that don’t know me or my family. It makes me feel very grateful.”

ABOVE PHOTO CAPTIONS: Olya Vasyleha’s sister Iryna will be coming to Canada; however, her husband Igor will stay behind to fight. Olya Vasyleha has been working hard to bring her family, including her niece Yuliia (above) to Canada from Ukraine.

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