Thousands of Ukrainians fled the war to settle in Quebec. For the next year, The Journal will follow the Mariichuk family — Dmytro, Oksana and their five children — to better understand the ups and downs of the journey of these refugees.
That makes they have been in Quebec for a month now. After the happiness and relief of having arrived in Repentigny, the Mariichuk realize that it will take time before they can feel at home.
“We understand that we are far from home and from our families. It’s more difficult than the first days,” breathes Dmytro Mariichuk, 35 and proud dad.
The Mariichuk family with their hosts Louise Jalbert and Roger Chenard, on May 29.
With his wife and five children, he abandoned their small suburban house in Sviatopetrivske, “the Repentigny of Kyiv”, as soon as the Russian army first advanced.
It was good before knowing that they would emigrate to Canada, or that complete strangers — Louise Jalbert and Roger Chenard — would lend them their Lanaudière home for free for the summer.
Anastasiia (14) and Miia (2) share the same room.
“It was a miracle,” says the Ukrainian refugee.
Time for paperwork
When Le Journal < /em>met the family at Montreal-Trudeau airport at the end of May, both the parents and their children aged 2 to 14 were mostly exhausted by their flight.
“The first few days, I slept so much! exclaims Anastasiia, the eldest, who continued the Ukrainian school from a distance despite everything.
The interview with Dmytro Mariichuk, a father, was done using a translation application.
Dmytro and Oksana got busy with the departure paperwork, with the invaluable help of their host Louise.
The list was endless: opening a bank account, registering with the Régie health insurance of Quebec (RAMQ), register Anastasiia, Daniil (13 years old), Nikita (13 years old) and Andrii (10 years old) at school, find out about francization…
Starting all over again
What was the hardest thing for them? Oksana and Dmytro exchange a meaningful look.
“I have to start over. At 35,” sighs the father.
In his home country, he was a successful entrepreneur selling structural steel. Here he is still looking for a job.
Andrii, Miia and Nikita.
“I have a big family, and that comes with big responsibilities. In Ukraine, we had all kinds of projects, and they all disappeared in the space of a day”, regrets Dmytro, apologizing for looking for his words in English.
Not later than this year, the couple had bought land to build a house to their liking.
Oksana also had to give up her own party decoration business.
However, the Mariichuk are determined to do everything possible to live a normal life in their adopted country.
Miia, their almost three-year-old blonde, happily frolics in the living room, unaware of the sacrifices that this entails.
Oksana Mariichuk hopes to start working again in the decoration of parties.
“It’s easier for her. She is so small,” says Dmytro, smiling at the sight of her.
CHALLENGES TO OVERCOME
The Mariichuks have already started private French lessons twice a week thanks to Céline, a friend of their hosts. But they go a long way. “We started with the [Latin] alphabet,” laughs Mr. Mariichuk, used to reading in Cyrillic. They are also registered for francization courses in July.
The Mariichuk children can't wait to make friends in their new country. “At the moment they cannot talk to anyone their own age because of the language,” says Dmytro Mariichuk. Only Andrii attended primary school for a few days, which allowed him to meet other children.
< p>The family of seven is lucky enough to live in a three-bedroom house while its owners spend the summer camping. “But eventually, we will have to find our own house”, warns Dmytro Mariichuk who has not yet started the search in the midst of the housing crisis.
Finding a job
Both Dmytro and Oksana are looking for jobs, ideally in their field, but maybe not. Their lack of knowledge of French complicates their procedures. However, the expenses have continued to pile up since their arrival. “For groceries, it's about $500 or $600 a week, and we only buy the minimum,” says the father of the family.
Getting to know the culture better < /strong>
Having never set foot in Canada before May 29, Dmytro and Oksana's family are slowly discovering life in Quebec, from Montreal to Repentigny. They also spent a superb Saint-Jean-Baptiste in a municipal park and intend to learn more about their adopted culture in the coming months.
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Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128