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Ukrainian refugees, mother and daughter, arrive in the Okanagan

Click to play video: 'Ukrainian refugees, mother and daughter, arrive in the Okanagan' Ukrainian refugees, mother and daughter, arrive in the Okanagan
Ukrainian refugees, mother and daughter, arrive in the Okanagan – May 31, 2022

A warm embrace after a long journey.

That’s the greeting offered to Olena Shkurman and her daughter, Kira, at Kelowna International Airport after fleeing their war-torn homeland.

On Monday night, the two refugees touched down on Okanagan soil, 14 weeks after Russia first invaded.

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The two left their home in Kyiv just two days after the war started. They fled to her sister’s home, more than 300 kilometres outside Ukraine’s capital.

They left for Canada just days ago, leaving many loved ones behind as they start their lives anew.

“Her husband, her oldest daughter, her parents and her husband’s parents, everybody is still in Ukraine,” a translator said of Olena’s family.

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While in Ukraine and uncertain about her future, Olena began the process of sifting through Facebook groups in Canada. She eventually touched base with distant relatives in Toronto. After finding little to no success with that route, Olena then stumbled across a Facebook group in the Okanagan.

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“They found our group – Kelowna Ukrainian refugees,” said Denys Storozhuk of Kelowna Stands with Ukraine.

“They started to ask questions. One of our volunteers answered and they saw right away that they could find good support here in Kelowna.”

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The mother and daughter will now head to their new home with their hosts in Peachland.

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After shaking off jet lag, Olena says she will begin the process of finding a school for Kira, then finding herself a job – which might not be all that hard given her profession.

“Her profession is actually wine-making,” said Storozhuk, “so she might be able to find a good job at one of the wineries.”

Olena hopes to eventually reunite with her husband and parents, with the goal of one day calling the Okanagan their permanent home.

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