Ukraine news: Vancouver CEO offers shelter to young refugee couple with baby

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As he waited at Vancouver International Airport to meet the Ukrainian couple who would be living in the cottage on his West Vancouver property, Danny Sitnam was anxious, but excited.

“I just feel a lot of emotion about wanting to help and support the family coming to Canada,” he said.

Helijet’s chairman and CEO has no ties to Ukraine or the couple he offered to help. But when the war displaced millions, Sitnam felt compelled to do something. A church put him in touch with a local Ukrainian settlement organization, and he donated the cabin to newcomers in need.

Maple Hope Foundation co-founder Svitlana Kominko called Sitnam over the weekend and told her a young couple with a 10-month-old baby would be arriving soon, and they all agreed the cabin would be a good fit.

“For this family, it will be a very peaceful place where they can heal and begin to integrate into Canadian life,” said Kominko.

After three hours at Canadian customs, Andriy and Olha Krupnyk and their young son finally entered international arrivals to meet the woman who helped them get to Canada and the man who offered them accommodation.

“It was unexpected that someone I had met at the airport for the first time was hosting us,” said Andriy, who was an actor in Ukraine.

His wife Olha is a doctor, who was overwhelmed with emotion at the kindness shown to them in Canada. “Everyone is trying to help you,” she said through tears. “They only understand our face.”

The Krupnyks are grateful for a place to live as they navigate their new life in Metro Vancouver. Thousands of additional displaced Ukrainians are expected to arrive in British Columbia in the coming weeks, and housing is the biggest hurdle.

“We cannot meet the needs of everyone who needs our help. That is why this is our call for support to all Canadians and to the government as well,” said Kominko.

“Hopefully what we’re doing, other Canadians will start considering doing it as well,” Sitnam added of his accommodation offer for Ukrainian newcomers.

As she left the airport with the new arrivals, Kominko, who arrived in Canada from Ukraine 17 years ago, spoke of her hopes for the Krupnyks.

“That the hope they instilled in their hearts when they decided to come to Canada will only grow – that more opportunities will be open to them, that their son will grow up in a safe environment, that they will meet new friends,” she said. noted. “And that they will feel at home, like me.”

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