Tetiana Chudiovych fled Kyiv just after the Russian attack and ran to the safety of Italy together with her twin children. After two years of waiting on visas, their family arrived in Saskatoon last weekend.
“I spent my life in Ukraine, but I would like to live in Canada. I would like to see that we can turn our attention back to Ukraine and Kyiv once the war is over,” the 39-year-old told the Canadian.
Chudiiovych claimed it was a risky 24 hours to escape her city life in a tiny car, her neighbour and children, her neighbour’s children, and their dog.
“There were six of us in the car. Just 300 kilometres later, we had run out of fuel as there wasn’t gas,” she said. “We were in the field, and it was freezing.”
With the help of security officers of the police, they could reach the western part of Ukraine before crossing over the Hungarian border.
The idea of one week at the home of a relative in Italy quickly turned into six weeks while the family waited for visas.
Chudiiovych was a visa applicant for her children as part of the program and announced Canadian-Ukraine emergency travel authorization (CUAET) on the 18th of March, just a few days after the program’s launch.
On May 11th, about 119,111 Ukrainians were waiting for visas through CUAET. Between the beginning of the program and until the last day on Wednesday, Canada had received 223,664 applications.
After changing her flights for Saskatoon several times, the long wait to obtain her visa almost forced Chudiovych to contemplate returning to Ukraine.
“I filled out a variety of forms online to Immigration. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada could not respond to them promptly,” she said.
However, on May 11th, the entire family received their visas in Vienna and headed to Saskatoon just three days after.
Chudiiovych was issued a Social Insurance number on Tuesday However, she needs to establish a bank account for her, as well as a telephone number and health insurance cards.
“I’m exhausted, but I’m happy that my kids are in a safe environment. I’m not scared or nervous no more.”
Pets Travelling With You
Daria Zaporozhets left Kyiv along with family members, two large cats, four dogs and two snakes that were not poisonous. It took nearly nine hours of travel to reach the train station finally.
She says, “We were in darkness as Russian forces were firing on our evacuation trains. We finally crossed our destination at Polish Grenze. We spent 9 hours inside the line of humans at the border along with all my pets’ crates.”
The family of three arrived at the refugee camp in Poland, where they began their application for CUAET.
Six weeks after their applications were finally approved.
“I’m pleased as if I’m five and it’s Christmas, and Santa Claus will be arriving with this present to Canada,” Zaporozhets said.
“I would like to live my life and be sure that one day I’ll wake up and be alive and not need to drag my entire family to the bomb shelters every 3 hours. I want to be an ordinary living being.”
The next challenge for the family was the need to travel to Canada with their entire pet.
Ottawa announced that those approved under CUAET would be able to access charter flights to Canada from next week.
However, Zaporozhets claimed that pet owners couldn’t take advantage of the no-cost flights to Poland.
“It’s too costly and is a difficult task for us. More than $4,000 is for the tickets for all of us. Snakes are also expected to be shipped separately,” she said.
Zaporozhets admitted that she was dismayed by a Canadian volunteer who asked her to leave her pets behind. However, she believes that her pets are her family as well.
The family is expected to arrive in Toronto next week. They will then take the road trip to Saskatoon.
“I will be a film director in Saskatoon or open an establishment for baking since I’m famous for making incredible cakes.”