A Calgary family is expressing thanks for a new immigration program for Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country that allows those in Canada with family to receive permanent resident status.
Seeing her kids playing with their cousins and not worrying about bombs falling from the sky is priceless for Tanya Kaliuzhna.
She was separated from her kids for nearly a year after she sent them stay with her sister, Elena, in Calgary when the war stated in Ukraine.
“In Warsaw, when she gave me her kids and she went back to Ukraine, she said she didn’t know if she would see her kids ever again,” said Burden from her home in northwest Calgary.
Kaliuzhna lived in the city of Kryvyi Rih, parts of which were dramatically flooded after Russian cruise missiles blew up a nearby dam.
“My city has a very big problem with water because they bombed the dam. My sister’s house is underwater completely. It’s gone,” Burden said.
“Every day the planes in the sky are above you and you don’t know if they are Ukrainian or Russian and always there is the explosion of bombs. You can hear it all around so you don’t know where it’s falling,” said Kaliuzhna.
In November, Kaliuzhna decided to come to Canada under under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program that was launched in March 2022. Under CUAET, Ukrainians were able to come to Canada and live and work for up to three years.
As of July 8, 1,222, 127 applications have been received under CUAET, 168,567 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada and 802,416 applications have been approved.
Applications for that program expired on July 15, but now there’s a new federal immigration program for Ukrainians allowing those in Canada with family to receive permanent resident status.
“I’m very happy and I’m very thankful to the Canadian government because I can help my siblings and those beautiful children to stay and be permanent residents and start a new life here in Canada,” Burden said. She has been hosting her sister and her nephew and niece in her Calgary home.
Elena’s cousin, Nadiya Ivanova, also came to Calgary under the original visa program but her future here is uncertain because cousins are not included in the list of family members that qualify for permanent residency.
According to the government website: “Those who are eligible include Ukrainian spouses, common-law partners, parents, grandparents, siblings and children or grandchildren of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.”
“I guess we will stay here for longer because I don’t think that everything will end fast so we need a safe place and hopefully I can have the family here,” Ivanova said.
She said it’s not an easy decision to stay in Calgary considering most of her family, including her husband is back in Dnipro.
“Especially when you have relatives and people who are close to you. It’s hard to leave them. Of course my parents are waiting that we will come back, but I’m not sure,” Ivanova said.
Burden is thankful for the support of Calgarians and for the new federal policy.
“The Canadian people, you are truly a great nation. I would not be able to do anything like that by myself only. I’m very proud to be Canadian and Canadians, you are great,” Burden said.
The government said more details will be released closer to when the program launches in October.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says Ukrainians holding a visa will have until March 31, 2024, to travel to Canada under the temporary special measures.
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