On February 24th, 2022, Russian forces launched a second invasion of Ukraine. The resulting destruction displaced over 8 million Ukrainians across Europe, and, since the invasion over 150,000 have arrived in Canada.
Mariia Elsayed, a Career Facilitator in our Job Quest program, was one of those that had to flee Ukraine with her family following the invasion.
Mariia had previously had her own business but had to leave it all behind when she decided to move to Canada. She arrived in Canada with just $300 in April 2022, not knowing anyone or what the future held for her or her young family.
However, looking back one year on, Mariia remembers the huge amount of support she received in finding housing, getting groceries, schools for her kids, and a job.
“I met such great people, who opened their hearts to me and were there for me at the most difficult time”
Remembering as part of a community
On Saturday 24th February 2023, Mariia attended a commemoration event in Vancouver to mark the one-year anniversary of the invasion. Despite the sadness of the occasion, for many Ukrainians who now live in BC it was a time to come together, share their experiences and remind themselves of the community support they’ve received since arriving in Canada:
“I felt pain, and sadness, and at the same time very proud that my country is still standing for a year, no matter how hard it is. Ukrainians support each other, like never before. We’ve become stronger and wiser, and we still believe in our victory.
Mariia also admits that she it is through this community support that her and her family have been able to thrive in BC:
“We wouldn’t be in the place we are now, without community support and I have learnt that you will never be alone in Canada.”
Finding new purpose through helping newcomers
Even more impressive, despite all the challenges Mariia faced in the past year, she now works to improve the lives of other newcomers arriving in BC through her role as a Career Facilitator with Job Quest.
Each day, Mariia helps newcomers from around the world understand the Canadian job market, empowering them with the confidence and skills they need to thrive in British Columbia:
“My biggest accomplishment is that I help newcomers through my work and return all the kindness that I received when I first got here. I am glad to be someone who can support people who are in desperate need of support.”
And her hard work has also not gone unnoticed by her clients. In a recent workshop call with Ukrainians who have arrived in BC through the CUAET program, they all complimented Mariia on her compassion and dedication to supporting them find new opportunities in Canada.
“BC is a special place, and we are all proud to live here.”