Leisha Nazarewich and Carol Guimond of the Ukrainian National Federation’s Windsor branch have caught the attention of Russian officials.
“He (Russian president Vladimir Putin) didn’t send us a registered letter indicating that we were on the list,” said Leisha Nazarewich, president of the local Ukrainian National Federation. Their names are on a list of Canadian nationals sanctioned by the country.
“When I got to talk about it I thought wow what an honour,” said Nazarewich. “I’ve joined the elite and obviously we’re doing something right here in Windsor.”
The ladies aren’t planning a trip to Russia anytime in the near future but they do plan to continue assisting Ukrainian refugees settling here in Essex-County. A fundraising meet and greet was held at the Federation’s Ottawa street branch Sunday to help celebrate the upcoming Ukrainian Independence Day. “It’s a great opportunity for the new refugees to meet other refugees and to meet other people in the Ukrainian community and the community at large,” said Guimond.
People from the community, including Rama Musharbash-Kovacsi, Community Ambassador for the Windsor Essex County District School Board, visited the centre with a friend to show support. “Some of them are registered at our schools so we’re here to support them all the way, make them comfortable making sure that they know the school is a safe place for them and their kids.”
Slava Lykhoshvai is one of many who are thankful for the opportunity to feel safe. “Eight thousand kilometres from Ukraine and it’s still a little island of Ukrainian culture here. It’s really nice. Reminds of home.”
The 17-year-old fled his country and arrived in Essex-County in April. Guimond says the stream of refugees coming to Windsor has recently slowed but there is a lot of work going on to help those who are already here.
“Try to find a more permanent home for them. Trying to get them into ESL classes. Try to get them to jobs.”
Guimond estimates about 110 families, or close to one thousand Ukrainians, are now calling Windsor-Essex home. Those we spoke with today are thankful for the kindness and support they’ve been shown by the community.
“Neighbours help a lot. It’s nice to be here,” said Alona Iievlieva prior to a show featuring Ukrainian dancers. “I feel lucky. There are a lot of nice people around me.”
“We couldn’t handle it without them,” said Tetiana Pimkina who came to Canada in June with her six-year old son. “We are grateful for everything they do for us. It’s like a miracle.”