Oleksandr Ukhanov works two jobs. He is trying to bring his wife and children to Canada with the support of David Walsh, who has welcomed him since his arrival a month ago.
Mr Ukhanov is from Ternopil, a city of around 200,000 people in western Ukraine, but he was working in Israel when the Russian invasion began earlier this year.
He says he is worried about friends who live in Mariupol and Kyiv, towns that were badly hit by the Russian offensive, and he knows people in Kyiv who lost their lives defending the capital.
My best friends stayed there. It’s awfulhe said.
Mr. Walsh has seen reports of Russian troops crossing the Ukrainian border. The scenes of destruction and of Ukrainians leaving their country marked him.
I thought I had to do something to help these peoplehe said.
He contacted the Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay to express his interest in hosting people.
Meanwhile, Mr Ukhanov began exploring ways to find a place where he could move with his family and he messaged a number of agencies.
The first response he received came from the Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay.
A few months later, Mr. Walsh received a call telling him that someone was on his way to Thunder Bay.
This first day in Northwestern Ontario for Mr. Ukhanov in mid-May included a trip to one of the region’s most scenic spots, Kakabeka Falls.
In the days that followed, Mr. Walsh helped Mr. Ukhanov obtain a social insurance number, medication and find work.
I tell everyone this was a live history lesson for me, learning about the history of their world and their culturehe points out.
He admits, however, that there have been challenges, particularly in terms of understanding the language.
But I really appreciate the time we got to spend togetherhe adds.
Mr. Ukhanov has a job in construction and another in a restaurant Sweet G’s.
I am very happy to stay here in Thunder Bay. [Les gens] helped me so much. I really appreciate Dave and his familyhe says.
Restaurant owner Gord Moir says Ukhanov has added Ukrainian recipes to the menu.
It’s going extremely well. I was surprised by his command of the English language. He seems to understand everything very wellsaid Mr. Moir.
Mr. Ukhanov says his wife and two children are currently in Italy and he hopes they will join him in Canada soon.
I just want to work, earn money and give my children a good education. For me, it’s family firsthe says.
Cathy Woodbeck, executive director of the Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay, says it’s difficult to quantify the number of Ukrainian refugees in the city.
The first to arrive were those who already had family living in the area or who were outside Ukraine when the war broke out.
Although the multicultural association provides direct support to some of the newcomers, others are sponsored by individuals.
Ms. Woodbeck expects the organization to work with about 20 newly arrived Ukrainian families over the summer.
People are really touched by what is happening in Ukraine and want to help those arriving in any way they canshe says.
Ms. Woodbeck says the newcomers have found work in a variety of fields, including construction, hospitality and services.
With information from CBC