A Ukrainian family is settling into the community of Elmsdale, N.S., after being separated for months because of the Russian invasion.
Bukunmi Damilola Oluwamogbiele said he has “new energy” and is ready to start a “new chapter, knowing that (his) loved ones are safe.”
Oluwamogbiele was working on a transport vessel and away from his family when the Russian invasion started at the end of February.
He was unable to return to his family because of the escalating conflict and eventually urged his wife to flee with their young children.
“When the war started they shut down the airport. There was basically no means of transportation, so it had to be by road. The responsibility of getting them out safely — that was the most difficult part,” he said.
When Dami’s wife Mariia escaped to Romania, she began to research the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program and struck up a virtual connection with a Nova Scotia couple that’s changed their lives.
“It’s just been a rollercoaster but the best rollercoaster,” said Vanessa Powell, a Nova Scotia woman living in Elmsdale with her husband.
Powell said she was moved to help Ukrainian refugees by offering support by way of lodging.
She and her husband joined an online community of homeowners willing and able to host Ukrainian refugees who come to Canada.
Shortly after posting her accommodation availability to the online forum, Mariia messaged her.
“Mariia messaged me online and asked whether we’d consider taking in a multiracial family with two young children and I said, ‘Absolutely, we have the room.’ So, from then it was a case of clearing out my craft room, and turning it into the children’s bedroom,” Powell said.
After several months apart, Mariia and Dami were able to find comfort knowing that they would be reunited in Canada to start the next chapter of their lives.
“It’s been a warm reception since we arrived,” Oluwamogbiele said.
With Halifax being a port city, Oluwamogbiele is hopeful that he will find a job in transport cargo, which was the work he did back in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Powell has met with her elected government officials to discuss the possibility of mitigating expensive medical diagnostic test fees that Ukrainian refugees may have to pay within 90 days of their arrival.
Powell said she aims either to “try and get the fees incorporated into MSI, or kind of reduced.”
According to the federal department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, test costs vary by age and province.
“The test serves to both identify potential health conditions that could pose a risk to public health and to facilitate newcomers’ integration into Canada’s health-care system for those who may require urgent care,” wrote Nancy Caron, a spokesperson with IRCC.
Regardless of that outcome, Oluwamogbiele said he is just grateful to be able to move forward knowing he and his family are safe.
“It has been stressful — emotionally, physically — but we overcome,” Oluwamogbiele said.
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