Russian invasion anniversary: Moncton Ukrainian community reflects on ‘difficult day’


The past year has been anything but easy for the growing Ukrainian community in Moncton, N.B. “Today is a difficult day for me and as well for all Ukrainians,” Moncton Ukrainian Club executive member Nataliia Haidash said on Feb. 24, the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.“It brings all the flashbacks of all the terrible things which happened,” she said.Haidash has spent many sleepless nights worrying about her family back in Ukraine.She says seeing the support shown at the Ukrainian Club’s rallies and fundraisers over the past year has brought some level of comfort, though. Story continues below advertisement “We don’t have the same level of helplessness that we had a year ago because we have, we know we have this support,” she said Friday.She and the other volunteers from the Moncton Ukrainian Club plan to continue organizing fundraisers and events like a Ukrainian festival in the summer.“We know we could do things and help, and this is something that makes it easier,” she said. 1:40 Ukraine has ‘strong fist of partners’ supporting it amid Russian invasion: Zelenskyy Irishtown resident Olga Polnitsky, who immigrated to Canada from Kharkiv, Ukraine more than 20 years ago, also praised Moncton’s generosity. Trending Now “I would say that every Ukrainian who came here … they received everything,” she said in an interview.“From the spoon and the knife to the furniture … they received everything for their kids,” she said. Story continues below advertisement She and her husband Gary Castator welcomed the Bakum family from Ukraine into their home in May.Tamara Bakum is Polnitsky’s high school friend.While Bakum and her daughter, along with her two granddaughters, have since moved into an apartment, Polnitsky and Castator are still helping them adjust to many facets of Canadian life.Polnitsky said it’s been a year of ups and downs, now that the children have accepted the reality that it’s unlikely they will return to Ukraine.“They are overcoming their cultural shock, you know from the excitement of escaping the war to depression of losing everything, to being isolated from the country, to being unable to communicate,” she said.Bakum and her daughter Viktoria have found employment, which Polnitsky said is essential for cultural integration. 1:58 Ukrainian newcomers recruited by employers amid labour crunch Castator said the past year has been challenging, as even mundane things like transportation and grocery trips can present barriers to newcomers like the Bakums. Story continues below advertisement While the language and cultural barriers have at times made it difficult for him to relate to the Bakums, he still feels close to them, recalling a birthday present he received from the family.“Tamara came outside with the two (granddaughters) and they stood beside the car and said “Happy birthday!”… I just thought it was pretty special … in English!” he said, tearing up.“I was shocked, and then they gave me a gift card … you know, you feel pretty special,” he said. &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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