Having fled Russian attacks, woman now helps other Ukrainians settle in Calgary

By Bill Kaufmann || July 18, 2022

I was lucky, I’m doing fine and now I’m hoping to help more people’

Kateryna Zarvii joined a massive exodus from her war-ravaged Ukrainian homeland to settle in Calgary.

Now, she’s determined to help others following in her footsteps to settle in a country adamantly recommended by an uncle.

“He said, ‘You have to go to Canada.’ He gave it very high praise,” said Zarvii, who came to Calgary in May after first arriving in Winnipeg following the Russian invasion in late February.

“I was lucky; I’m doing fine and now I’m hoping to help more people.”

Zarvii hailed from the city of Kremenchuk, which has been the target of several Russian missile attacks — including one on June 27 that struck a shopping mall, killing about 20 people.

In a visit to her uncle’s hometown of Dnipro shortly after the invasion, a missile struck about a kilometre away — further impetus to come to Canada.

“It was very scary … I came here for an opportunity to have a better future,” said Zarvii, noting the Russians are increasingly targeting civilians far from the battlefronts.

“It’s not just about (the Russians winning) territory, it’s about genocide — in the last two weeks, you can see a lot of escalation.”

After arriving in Calgary, she volunteered with a group called the Calgary Ukrainian Evacuee Welcoming Committee where she assisted in English instruction for refugees.

The single, 26-year-old landed a rental home in the city’s southeast and on Monday began working at the Centre for Newcomers, where she’ll help settle Ukrainians fleeing the war.

“They were looking for people who speak Ukrainian to help Ukrainians,” said Zarvii.

The Alberta government has recently extended financial support for Ukrainian newcomers and for their child care needs.

The most immediate challenge is providing temporary housing for arrivals, said Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.

Meeting those needs are 74 host families, while his agency is using Airbnbs and a hotel which is offering hotel rooms for $50 a night, he said.

More government support appears to be on the way, he added.

“We’ve been managing, so far so good … there’s a lot of grassroots support happening,” he said.

“It’s going to remain a challenge but I’m proud to say no one has had to go to a shelter or be outside.”

And like the Centre for Newcomers, Birjandian’s agency has also hired recent Ukrainian arrivals to assist their countrymen.

All of that and a generally optimistic and accepting outlook has made Zarvii a grateful recent newcomer.

“I love Canada — I’ve always wanted to live here without knowing it,” she said.

Source: https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/ukraine-woman-in-calgary-helps-to-resettle-other-refugees

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