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The realities of life in Canada for Ukrainian refugees


The invasion of Ukraine and the escape of Ukrainian refugees has sobering parallels to what Estonian refugees went through after fleeing their homeland during the Second World War. This begs the question, then: is there light at the end of the tunnel for those who have sought refuge in Canada?

One Ukrainian family—Amir and Liliia Harati and their five-year-old daughter, Amira—have found a place to live with an Estonian-Canadian, Toomas Marley. In Marley's home in midtown Toronto, Amir related his family's experiences thus far.

You and your family were living in Kyiv before the war. Can you describe the journey from there to Toronto?
Amir, Liliia, and Amira. Photo used with permission from the Harati family

The invasion of Ukraine and the escape of Ukrainian refugees has sobering parallels to what Estonian refugees went through after fleeing their homeland during the Second World War. This begs the question, then: is there light at the end of the tunnel for those who have sought refuge in Canada?

One Ukrainian family—Amir and Liliia Harati and their five-year-old daughter, Amira—have found a place to live with an Estonian-Canadian, Toomas Marley. In Marley’s home in midtown Toronto, Amir related his family’s experiences thus far.

You and your family were living in Kyiv before the war. Can you describe the journey from there to Toronto?

It all happened over three months. In February, I was working as an electrical engineer for SNC Lavalin in Oman. Although I planned to come back home on the 23rd via Qatar Airways, I arrived in Doha and found all of the flights cancelled. So I sent an email to the HR of my employer, explaining my situation, and they managed to book another ticket. And I’m so happy they did that. If it was one day later, everything would be different, because the day after I arrived, the bombing started.

My wife Liliia’s family are from Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv. So we went there and stayed for one night with Liliia’s sister, brother-in-law, grandfather, and grandmother. The news became worse and worse, and so I said that we had to leave the country.

(Read more: Estonian Life No. 25 2022 paber- and PDF/digi)

Written by Vincent Teetsov, Toronto


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