B.C. woman sheds ‘happy tears’ as family arrives safely from Ukraine

Click to play video: 'Vancouver woman brings family members to Canada from Ukraine'
Vancouver woman brings family members to Canada from Ukraine
A Vancouver woman who had complained that the process for bringing family members to Canada from Ukraine was too complicated, has finally been able to bring her nephew and sister-in-law to safety. Rumina Daya reports – Apr 20, 2022

A British Columbia woman is breathing a sigh of relief now that her niece and grandnephew have arrived safely in Canada after fleeing the Ukraine war.

“Last night I was able to sleep,” Michelle Petrusevich told Global News.

“Since this whole thing started haven’t been getting much sleep. This is like step one, OK they’re safe, at least they’re safe. But it’s not over.”

Petrusevich’s niece Lina Borets and her seven-year-old son Tymur arrived in Calgary Tuesday night, where they were greeted by tearful family members.

Borets and her son have been in limbo for seven weeks, after fleeing their home community of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine, a process that involved a nerve wracking voyage on an evacuation train to Lviv, before crossing the border into Poland where they have been staying since.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’m excited and frustrated at the same time. A mix of all feelings. We are happy to be here finally in Canada,” Borets told Global News at the Calgary airport.

“We hope for a beautiful future together, the only thing we are all dreaming about is peace.”

Click to play video: 'Nanaimo couple takes in family of Ukrainian refugees'
Nanaimo couple takes in family of Ukrainian refugees

Watching footage of the the arrival on a laptop on a Vancouver beach Wednesday, Petrusevich was moved to tears.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“Those were happy tears for sure,” she said.

“It’s been such a long an exhausting and super stressful process. There was ups and downs and we didn’t know, and all the uncertainty around it.”

While her Borets and Tymur’s arrival is a welcome relief, the family remains on edge.

Story continues below advertisement

Borets’ husband Taras was not allowed to leave Ukraine because he is a man of fighting age, and Tymur’s grandparents and great-grandparents remain in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has intensified in recent days.

“She’s here but the rest of the family is still there, and we are really worried for them because they are close to the eastern front, and we don’t know. It’s not over,” Petusevich said.

“(Taras) says he’s fine, but we are both suffering. It’s really hard to be apart.”

Global News first spoke with Petrusevich in early March as she worked from B.C. to try and help her niece and grandnephew get to Canada.

At the time, she described Canada’s streamlined visa process for Ukrainians as confusing and bureaucratic.

Click to play video: 'Supporting Ukrainian refugees when they arrive in Canada'
Supporting Ukrainian refugees when they arrive in Canada

On Wednesday, she said she was grateful the process worked, but said more needs to be done to simplify and clarify it.

Story continues below advertisement

“It can be cumbersome and it takes a lot of time. Democracy and bureaucracy go hand in hand and that’s just how it is, but that’s the best we’ve got.”

Petrusevich said Canada needs clearer instructions for Ukrainians about where to send their passports, along with more transparency about how long the process will take.

Canada could also cut down on anxiety and stressful lineups by letting people make appointments at guaranteed times to pick up their documents, similar to the way COVID-19 vaccinations were booked, she said.

In the meantime, Borets and Tymur are beginning the process of settling into Canada and figuring out their next steps.

Borets, an English professor, will begin looking for work while the family is trying to find a school to enroll the seven-year-old in.

“He needs to be with his peers and he needs to feel a sense of normalcy,” she said.

“I want to say a happy end, but it’s also a happy start, because she’s here.”

— with files from Rumina Daya


Sponsored content