Makeup artist who fled Ukraine with nothing gifted supplies, scholarship in B.C.

Click to play video: 'Ukrainian refugee surprised with huge gift of cosmetics'
Ukrainian refugee surprised with huge gift of cosmetics
A Ukrainian makeup artist who fled the Russian invasion was stunned to receive a donation of thousands of dollars worth of cosmetics to help her get started in Canada. Grace Ke has the story. – May 3, 2022

Its been six weeks since Ukrainian makeup artist Valeryya Stashenko arrived in Canada, leaving both her family and all of her supplies behind.

The Kyiv artist moved to B.C. with little more than two sweaters and two pairs of jeans. Through mutual connections, she was able to secure housing and a job at a local makeup studio.

“It’s hard when you can live normal life here, trying to live normal life here and your family is still there and you can’t do anything to help them,” said Stashenko, whose father is fighting in the war.

Since she began working in B.C., Stashenko has had to borrow and return makeup supplies, without the funds to rebuild her own stock.

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That changed Tuesday, however, when she was gifted — by surprise — with a suite of new kits and hair products, along with a full scholarship to any program offered at Blanche Macdonald.

“People here are so amazing. I’m so shocked. I don’t know what to say,” said Stashenko, who walked into the beauty and fashion school with no idea what was waiting inside for her.

She said she thought she was popping in on a day off for a visit to meet some new people.

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Blanche Macdonald, which offers hair, fashion, esthetics, makeup and barbering programs, reached out to its vendors for supplies to give Stashenko. Gina Hansen, director of the school’s retail operations, said it was easy to secure donations.

“The culture of Blanche is all about humanity and heart, and sharing the love,” she told Global News. “Especially in the artist community, we really support each other — lift each other up — and we just thought it was important to do that for Valeryya, as a fellow artist and human being.”

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Stashenko’s seven-year-old sister, mother and grandmother are still in Kyiv. Before she fled to Canada, she said she and her sister sought refugee in a bunker, while some stayed in their home as her grandmother has dementia and mobility issues.

Tuesday’s surprise, she added, has helped her feel more at home in her new community.

“This is amazing people,” she said. “Canada do lots of good things for Ukrainians now, especially all these people, they’re doing a lot for me to help me feel comfortable here and do my favourite work.”

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