Canada has become a second home for tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have fled the war raging in their homeland. The Shevchenko Foundation has partnered with its generous donors and the Ukrainian community in Canada to help create a safe and welcoming environment.
The individuals featured on the cover of our 2023 Annual Report are representative of the many Ukrainians, newcomers to Canada, who have been grateful beneficiaries of TSF support over the past year through their host communities and organizations. We thank them for trusting us with their stories.
Andriana and Osyp Slavych
- Lviv oblast – Edmonton * Shumka Ukrainian Dancers
Andriana and Osyp Slavych shared this story with us along with a beautiful poem.
“We are new to Canada, we came here a year ago, on June 8, 2022. Osyp is 12 and Andriana is 13. We both are students of St. Theresa Catholic School in Sherwood Park. We enjoyed dancing at Shumka School of Dance and participating at competitions.
We moved here after the documents were approved by the Embassy. We never had any intention to leave Ukraine before the war broke out in our Motherland.
We came from the Western part of Ukraine, a small town near Lviv. Our whole family could come, we are happy to be here all together. Our parents and our older brother Bohdan (he is 15). But still we have a big number of relatives who remained in Ukraine. Our father is from a family of 7 kids, he is the oldest. All of his sisters and brothers are in Ukraine. Osyp’s godfather and uncle fought for Ukraine and was terribly injured in the head. He went through lots of surgeries and the last was conducted three weeks ago. The big piece of titanium plate was put because his skull bone had been crushed. Mom is one of three kids. All our aunts with their families are in Ukraine as well as our two grandmothers and a grandfather.
Our mother, Mariana, used to work as a teacher of English as a second language and religion. Our father, Ivan, was a priest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
We had been dancing Ukrainian dances before COVID hit. Everything went online and it didn’t work, so we had a break. After arriving in Canada we went to the church in Edmonton, where we found out about summer dancing camp. It was a lovely experience, we were so happy to be able to continue in the next study year! It was a great relief from the big change in our life. Here everything is different and our life is divided into before the war and after… We are trying to start from scratch.
Andriana had one assignment for her LA classes to write a poem. She tried hard and we would like to share it with you!” – Adriana and Osyp Slavych
Photos by Curtis Round Photography
Olena and Vitalii Brahin
- Zaporizhzhia – Calgary * Tryzub Ukrainian Dancers
Olena and Vitalii Brahin arrived in Canada from Zaporizhzhia with their two children in June 2022. Prompted to leave by the first fire at the nuclear power plant in their home city, they arrived in Calgary to a warm community welcome.
Both dancers and choreographers by profession, Olena and Vitalii were fortunate to be offered opportunities to pursue their passion with Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Society.
Olena has over 19 years of teaching experience with the Baida Children’s Folk Ensemble in Ukraine. Her dancers have participated in international festivals and competitions.
She is also a performer and spent 16 years with the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Zaporizhia Regional Philharmonic.
Vitalii was a dancer with the National Honoured Academic Dance Ensemble of Ukraine, Virsky; for 6 years. He also danced with the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Zaporizhia Regional Philharmonic from 2006-2022.
“We were very warmly welcomed by the community. As professional dancers and choreographers, my husband Vitalii and I were fortunate that Tryzub Ukrainian Dancers offered us the opportunity to continue working. I was shocked at the number of children learning Ukrainian dance. The level of choreography, the precision of the costumes, the level of cultural preservation, are all amazing!” – Olena Brahina
- Lviv – Toronto * Vesnivka Women’s Choir
Nazar Lozynskyy arrived in Toronto, Ontario, on August 10, 2022, from Lviv, Ukraine.
A professional musician and conductor, Nazar sang in the Dudaryk Men’s Choir in Lviv and later became its head choirmaster.
He came to Canada with his family – spouse and two children ages 13 and 9. Nazar works in the trades during the workweek and pursues his passion for music on evenings and weekends. He is a guest conductor with Vesnivka Women’s Choir and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Choir, and a cantor at Holy Protection Ukrainian Catholic Church.
From August 24-October 20 Nazar will be singing with the Canadian Opera Company in its production of Fidelio.
“Having been the choirmaster of the Dudaryk Men’s Choir, I am grateful for the opportunity to now work professionally with the Vesnivka women’s choir. I’m blessed to be able to grow professionally here in Canada and pursue my musical interests.” – Nazar Lozynskyy
- Sarny – Edmonton * Plast Ukrainian Youth Association, Edmonton Branch
The Kutsyi Family shared its story as written below.
“We are the Kutsyi family – Oleksandr and Inna with five energetic children, Evelina, Iliia, Anna, David, and Mariia, who arrived in Edmonton in April 2022 from Ukraine after the launch of the full-scale war.
Canada seemed a bit strange and new, somewhat of a “cultural shock”.
Relatives invited us to the patriotic organization Plast which our family immediately liked. We felt part of something native, something Ukrainian.
We liked the fundamental principles of the Ukrainian scouting organization Plast: Be faithful to God and Ukraine, aid others and be guided by Plast practices. They teach discipline, encourage physical development, nurture a love for nature and create a cooperative environment.
Plast Ukrainian Youth Association, thanks to its sponsors, has provided us a great deal. For two years now we have enjoyed summer camps at no cost! (Paying camp fees for four children in Canada is still difficult.)
Since joining Plast, particularly participating in their summer camps, the children have become better organized, and healthier both physically and spiritually. They have begun to better appreciate and love nature.
We highly recommend the Ukrainian scouting organization Plast! The program is based on self-discipline, and physical and spiritual development. We are confident that the children will only benefit while in a Ukrainian environment.” – Inna Kutsyi
- Nova Kakhovka – Regina * Chaban Ukrainian Dance Association
Sofiia Baranovska shared her story as follows.
“I am from the especially beautiful and ever-blossoming city Nova Kakhovka, Kherson oblast (province) in the southern part of Ukraine. My hometown has been occupied since the first day of the Russian invasion. There is no way to know exactly whether our house is destroyed or not because the vivid and cozy town turned into an abandoned place with very few civilians. There are big problems connecting to Wi-Fi. Electrical, water and heat outages make comfortable living there impossible.
Nova Kakhovka is located on the left bank of the river Dnipro which has been a fighting line for a long time now. It was extremely scary to hear the roar of explosions, to feel the trembling of the house or ground after the numerous bombings or to hear, but not see military helicopters somewhere in the sky, so you do not know what to expect next.
The war interrupted our usual lives, my routine classes and plans for competitions and performing. I kept doing what I like the most – dancing, but in between the bombings and just in my room.
My mom and I were brave enough to leave our town on the 19th of March 2022 (only we could leave, my father must still stay there). It was extremely dangerous – my mother drove for 70 km on the occupied territory through Russian checkpoints to get to our relatives and then to drive to the Ukraine – Moldova border.
Eventually, on the 16th of May, I came to Canada and really appreciated Canadians for being so awesome, kind and altruistic!
To begin with, my mom happened to see an advertisement for a new dance season in the Chaban ensemble. Then, I met the president of our club, Shauna Dimond. She was very kind, caring and helpful. After my first practice with Oksana & Yurii I was really excited and inspired. To be honest, it was pretty challenging for me after that long break to start dancing again, but the girls who were dancing with me were supportive and helped me to overcome this obstacle. I am glad to come back to the stage and once more experience those unspeakable feelings while dancing and the positive energy from the audience.
In addition, I am happy to see how everyone supports Ukraine at every competition that I took part in – various posters or people in Ukrainian clothing warm my heart a lot.
My dancing in Chaban Ukrainian Dance Regina revealed my strengths, and improved my self-esteem and self-confidence. Moreover, it gave me a feeling that my life continues and I can enjoy it regardless of the fact that I am far away from my home, my friends. I appreciate the Shevchenko Foundation’s financial support which gave me such opportunities and made my life bright and full of happiness!” – Sofiia Baranovska
Photos by Yuliia Nosulich
- Kyiv – Hamilton * Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada (CYM), Hamilton Branch
Dmytro Kyianytsia shared the following story.
“I arrived in Canada from Kyiv on June 19, 2022, with my mother and sister. Three months later our father joined us.
We settled in Hamilton, Ontario, where we learned from the community about the summer camp organized by the Ukrainian Youth Association. When I arrived at the CYM camp I was overjoyed and excited to meet Ukrainian youth. It was wonderful to engage with the other campers, the counsellors, and teachers. It was a pleasure to hear the Ukrainian language at the camp. Particularly interesting were the lessons in history and culture. We also learned about Ukrainian traditions. I have the warmest and best memories of the CYM camp. I can’t wait to return this summer.
I chose to continue my participation in the Ukrainian Youth Association because there I found like-minded individuals who will help me maintain my history and culture in a new country. I believe that those who don’t know their past will not have a future.” – Dmytro Kyianytsia
Mariia and Iuliia Lytvynchuk
- Kyiv – Halifax
Faced with the understanding that they needed to pursue their education away from their home in Kyiv, Ukraine, Mariia and Iuliia Lytvynchuk, together with their mother, found a welcoming community in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Mariia aspires to become a best-selling author and Dalhousie University presented the perfect opportunity with its Creative Writing program and tuition at par with domestic students.
Iuliia is an artist and with the help of a scholarship, she enrolled in Nova Scotia School of Art and Design.
Both Mariia and Iuliia were recipients of the Shevchenko Foundation Professional Arts Training Scholarship.
“The Shevchenko Foundation not only helped me fulfill my dream of studying in a Creative Writing program, but also helped me become a writer. This fund remains important in my education as a student and will remain important in my goals as a writer.” – Mariia Lytvynchuk
- Kolomyia – Toronto
Tetiana Lototska arrived in Toronto from Kolomyia in April 2022. A visual artist, Tetiana is continuing her studies part time at the Lviv National Academy of Arts & Kosiv Specialist College of Applied and Decorative Arts where she specializes in oil painting and restoration. She is studying virtually while working full time.
Tetiana has found a welcoming environment among the local community of artists which has been supportive in her adaptation to a new country. She plans to devote as much time as possible to her artistic development while continuing to help Ukraine in any way that she can.
Inspired by Ukrainian folklore and the nature of the Carpathian Mountains, Tetiana’s distinctive personal style expresses the unbreakable spirit of Ukrainian culture.
With the Shevchenko Commemorative Bookmark, Tetiana makes her debut as a Ukrainian artist in Canada.
“It was truly a great gift for me to have my work featured on the TSF bookmark. While promoting greater awareness of Ukrainian culture in Canada, you have also encouraged me to continue with my art and passion.” – Tetiana Lototska