More than 60 Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion land in Edmonton

Dozens of Ukrainians have arrived in Edmonton Monday coming from Poland after fleeing Ukraine. They will be staying with family and friends in Alberta.

By Hiba Kamal-Choufi

After fleeing the Russian invasion of their homeland, more than 60 Ukrainians arrived in Edmonton Monday on a plane coming from Poland.

Most of the newcomers were women with kids, as well as the elderly. They will be staying with family, friends or sponsors.

Andrii Nabutuvskyi is one of the sponsoring families in Alberta. His family is sheltering a Ukrainian woman and her two kids.

“They were regular kids going to school every day, like an ordinary Ukrainian family” said Nabutuvskyi. “And on that horrible day, war started. They spent a lot of time in the basement because you never know when the artillery charge will come and might end your life right there.

“She just jumped in the car, took her boys and took over. And halfway there her parents met her an helped her get to the border.”

Greeting Ukrainian newcomers at airport

Families and volunteers waited long hours at the airport Monday to greet the Ukrainian newcomers.

Ivan Lypovyk took in five people from the flight from Poland.

“It’s pretty stressful for all parts and it will be lengthy, difficult and not pleasant experience for everyone,” he said.

Lypovyk said he was supposed to take in 13 people from the flight, but some couldn’t get a visa.

“Ukrainians did not get any special treatment,” he said. “They are coming here as workers, as taxpayers. So basically Canada is benefiting from these people.”

Project by former Alberta politicians 

Former MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, who arranged the plane with Alberta’s former premier Ed Stelmach, told CityNews all the passengers were Ukrainians, while one was a Canadian passport holder.

“They will have to make some life-changing decisions because as happy as they will be to be here safe, surrounded by caring and welcoming people, at the same time they have the survivor guilt of wanting to be there with their families,” said Lukaszuk.

“They haven’t left voluntarily. This wasn’t their plan a month ago.”

The plane is expected to return to Poland with humanitarian supplies for Ukraine on Tuesday.

Lukaszuk and Stelmach organized a humanitarian aid donation drive that saw Edmontonians raise supplies and funds.

The co-organizers are hoping to help Ukrainians still at home, those in refugee sites and those in neighbouring countries.

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