A refugee in Quebec, a Ukrainian went from doctor to joint roller

A refugee in Quebec, a Ukrainian went from doctor to ; joint roller


A Ukrainian who fled the war swapped his white doctor's coat for that of a cannabis joint-roller.

“It's legal here, so I have no problem with that. You have to work to earn a living,” laughs Volodymyr Pokhvalii, when he is exposed to the irony of his new uniform.

The 67-year-old man arrived in Quebec with his wife l last winter, after leaving Kramatorsk, Ukraine, at the very beginning of the Russian invasion.

“I saw a missile being destroyed by our air defense through my window, in the night where the war began,” recalls the man who gave up almost everything.

In a small car with few personal effects, it was in fear that the couple of doctors snuck across the country without GPS to escape the bombs.

“My parents had no no choice to come here, says Olena Pokhvalii, 38, who acts as an interpreter for her father, during her interview with Le Journal. I insisted. They told me they wanted to stay to work, but I didn't want to know. I was afraid for their lives.” 

When her parents arrived, the one who has lived in Sorel-Tracy since 2012 came across a job offer from the Nuances marijuana company. She laughed, then suggested it to her father.

Why not?

The retired doctor who had nearly 40 years of practice in the same office then said to itself: “Why not?

“With this job, he started to be active again, to resume a more normal life, after this big change”, explains his daughter, relieved.

Because for Mr. Pokhvalii, it was not easy to say goodbye to his profession, which was “his whole life”. 

He is however aware that without French, which is essential in Quebec to do his job, it is impossible for him to establish a relationship with a patient.

“Here, I roll joints. I redo those that come out of the machine. I stick the labels on the tubes, continues the sexagenarian. It's teamwork.

The latter says he has integrated well into his work environment. “Google translation helps a lot,” he jokes. 

“He’s meticulous. Everything he does is perfect. That's what we like about him. He is determined,” says Rolland-Pierre B. Chalifoux, president of Nuances marijuana.

His processing plant is located in the former disused provincial prison of Sorel-Tracy.

Refugee in Quebec, a Ukrainian went from doctor to wheeler joints

Refugee in Quebec, a Ukrainian went from doctor to joint-roller

Loves in danger

The mood darkens, however, when the Pokhvalii think to their loved ones who continue to suffer daily Russian strikes.

“Everyone is in danger. Winter is coming, and there will be no heating for everyone. It will be really difficult, underlines the ex-doctor, who keeps in touch with his family there.

He says he is grateful to Canada for its help and to his employer for the work opportunity.

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