After long journey, Ukrainians in Saskatchewan inch closer to final destinations

Click to play video: 'Ukrainian refugees take next steps towards settling in Sask.'
Ukrainian refugees take next steps towards settling in Sask.
WATCH: In Regina Thursday, hundreds of Ukrainian refugees met service providers to help set up things like bank accounts, health cards and drivers licenses as they work towards becoming properly settled in Saskatchewan. – Jul 7, 2022

An expected 900 displaced Ukrainians who have come to Saskatchewan are taking the next steps towards properly settling in Canada.

A three-day event, organized by the government of Saskatchewan, has brought together service providers from government, non-profits and banks at the University of Regina to create a “one-stop-shop” for Ukrainians in need of essentials.

“We’re here. We’re happy to help in any way we can,” said Chantelle Patrick, a director with the Saskatchewan-Ukraine Response Team.

The provincial government has pledged numerous times to support an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees as the war in Ukraine continues.

“An event like this is really important because ensuring they have the support they need to successfully settle in Saskatchewan is one of our key goals.”

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Read more: Humanitarian flight with 230 Ukrainians arrives in Regina

The Osobas hope to make a permanent home in Saskatchewan with their two children. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

According to Patrick, over 1,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Saskatchewan by some means including the approximately 230 who arrived on a charter flight Monday.

She added that the provincial government “really hopes they choose to stay in our province for the long term and make a home here.”

Nataliia and Ihor Osoba, Ukrainians who attended the event Thursday, say they hope to do just that after fleeing to Poland as the war began.

“Now that they’re here they know everything will be OK. They’ll find a job, they’ll find a house and their kids will find a school. They’re very confident about that,” a translator said on behalf of Nataliia.

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“They would like to stay in Saskatchewan, in Regina or Saskatoon, and make their life in Canada, and for sure they can stay because they have parents and relatives here.”

Read more: Global in Ukraine Exclusive: Interview with family of Russian soldier killed in Ukraine

Olha Machuha (left) speaks to a friend made while on the journey to Canada from Ukraine. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

Patrick said the Ukrainians in Regina this week will eventually settle, at least temporarily, in communities across Saskatchewan — often with family and friends.

Some will end up beyond Saskatchewan’s border.

Olha Machuha is heading to Winnipeg to stay with a family friend after spending time in Poland and Germany.

“I was really afraid to go back,” she said of her decision to leave her hometown.

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“Now and then there were bombings in Lviv. There weren’t as much in other areas, but you never know, will that one bomb in the week hit the place where you’re staying?”

She said decided to come to Canada on the charter flight because she speaks English. She hopes to find work in Winnipeg similar to what she was doing in Lviv, in the fashion industry.

“I worked in a luxury clothes boutique, with the website with images and marketing,” Machuha explained, saying she now has almost everything she needs to begin working.

“I love my work with all my heart, because I love the Ukrainian language and fashion. But for now I think I will be finding something different.”

She added that new friends made along her voyage to Canada are helping her feel comfortable as she navigates her new life in Canada, but that her longer-term plan is to return home.

“We are supporting each other. We are laughing together. We are taking care of each other and so that helps a lot,” she explained.

“I like to think about staying in Canada because everything seems so perfect. But I love Ukraine too much. I love my hometown. I love my family.”

Read more: Who killed Rita Horbyk? A war crime in Ukraine, heartbreak and a flawed investigation

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Ukrainian Canadian Congress Regina Settlement Co-ordinator Liuba Krupina speaks to Global News. Connor O'Donovan / Global News

Liuba Krupina, a settlement co-ordinator with Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Regina, said there are some who have arrived in Regina who don’t have family or friends here.

“This for me is the sign that I will be the main contact with them, to guide them and support them until they are settled with a job and place to stay,” she said.

She added that Ukrainians continue to arrive in the province daily, and that she hopes another charter flight can be arranged to help more of those displaced find a home on the Prairies.

“I’m not just working with people who have arrived here. I have clients in Ukraine and Europe. Every day they’re coming,” she said.

“And hopefully another charter flight will be organized by the Saskatchewan government.”

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Krupina said more organizations offered to lend their support at the event than the University actually had space for, and called their efforts “amazing”.

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