Newly-arrived Ukrainian refugee Louisa Boleyn is ready to make the most of her life in Montreal with the help of her host family.

Boleyn fled to Poland from her town outside of Kyiv and from there she was welcomed by a host family in Montreal.

“I’ve been very fascinated by Quebec,” said Boleyn. “I really like the culture here. It’s the most European part of North America.”

She speaks five languages, has a degree and wants to go to medical school.

Her host family is helping in every way they can.

“It’s amazing honestly,” said Stephanie-Ann Pasieka. “We did connect and we both want to go into medicine eventually so it’s going to be a great experience studying together.”

“We went to the Ukrainian Caisse right next door to here, her bank account was opened, so everything is literally falling into place,” said Stephanie-Ann’s mother Marie-Anne Pasieka. “It’s very quick.”

Through a Canadian program, Boleyn has an internship on Parliament Hill this spring.

Having arrived with just a backpack, a nearby Ukrainian church is helping by giving her what she needs for her new life in Quebec.

“I’m very overwhelmed by the community support here,” said Boleyn. “I did not expect that at all.”

“This is what we worked for, for the past six weeks and it’s great to have them finally coming in and that we can help them out with stuff,” said volunteer Nina Kostyk. “It kind of makes you cry.”

Organizing donations has become a logistical battle with the hall filling up with donations quickly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March.

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“Half of this hall was full from one side to the other, then it became a logistical dance to organize everything,” said volunteer Wolodymyr Klisko.

Twenty-five refugees have visited the Montreal donation centre, each coming with horrific stories of the war in their homeland.

“One gentleman that comes here, his eyes are watery. He was affected by a bomb blast,” said parish council president Myroslaw Balycky. “He saw a car demolished, a couple of people died in the car. It’s heart-wrenching.”

Donations fill her needs, but Boleyn is one of the many fleeing Ukraine who will always have a void in their hearts from leaving loved ones behind.

“My grandma, who lives in a town fully occupied by Russians at the moment, so we have had no contact with her for over a month already,” said Boleyn.

The priest at the church said they are ready and waiting to help more refugees.

“We welcome everyone, we love each other, we offer our time, abilities, everything we can offer,” said Reverend Ihor Oshchipko.

For Boleyn, a safe place to live is the start of a bright future.

“I wake up every day just thinking how lucky I am to be here,” she said.


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