Newcomer Story: Volodymyr Kryvenko

Daria and Volodymyr KryvenkoThis quarter, we are privileged to share not only the story of our learner, Daria, but also her husband, Volodymyr. The couple, along with their two kids, arrived in Manitoba in September 2022 from Ukraine.

If you’ve read Daria’s story, you would know that they fled Ukraine when hostilities began. They sought temporary refuge in Lithuania while waiting for their Canadian visa. After six months, they were finally able to travel to Canada, enduring three grueling days to reach Manitoba.

“Our trip started in Lithuania going by car to Latvia (a 239 km, three-hour ride) because in Lithuania they had an airport but no available plane. From Latvia, we flew to Dublin, where we had a very difficult night at the airport. We waited for eight hours for the next plane to Toronto. Thankfully, the Red Cross helped for us to have a night at the hotel, and we had rest and bath,” Daria said.

The couple now looks back on this difficult experience with a smile knowing that it was all worth it. Upon arriving in Benito, Manitoba, a small town in Swan Valley West, they were greeted by a warm and welcoming community that provided them with everything they needed.

Welding a new life in Manitoba

A job offer in Benito set Volodymyr and his family on their path to Manitoba. While he was a teacher and computer program developer back in Ukraine, it was his hobby of welding that landed him a job. Upon arriving in Benito, the company gave him a practical test which he passed with flying colours.

This job, aside from providing him with a livelihood, also gave them a home, safety, and a sense of community. “Neighbors in Benito always say ‘tell us if you need anything.’ It’s home for us. Not a big town, population may be 400 people. But I think I know everybody, and everybody knows me now,” Volodymyr said.

This supportive environment has fueled his determination to further improve his welding expertise. He recently took two welding exams in Winnipeg, one of which he passed. He intends to take the other welding exam again in the near future, and also obtain a Red Seal certification when he has enough welding experience.

In addition to honing his welding skills, Volodymyr recognizes the importance of improving his language skills. Shortly after their arrival, the couple joined English Online and began attending evening drop-in sessions three times a week. Then, several weeks ago, Volodymyr was paired with e-Settlement coach, Ellen Min Chen. “When we matched, I was very worried about, ‘Would I be able to speak?’ ‘Would I be able to understand her?’ he said.

A group of people posing in front of a restored red train at the Forks.

The Kryvenkos and Ellen Min Chen (lady in the middle of the group in striped shirt) enjoying a sunny day at The Forks in Winnipeg.

His fears were soon erased when their mentorship sessions started. “Every Saturday, I’m very happy to talk to Ellen, who is a fantastic woman who helps me. She explains to me when there is something I don’t understand. I can practice speaking English with her, get new information about Manitoba, and learn about supports for Ukrainian people,” he said. Recently, when the family visited Winnipeg, Ellen was their guide at The Forks.

Ellen also suggested enrolling in LINC Home Study, which is a formal language training program carried out online. Volodymyr and Daria are now considering LINC, or an in-person language program at Red River College as the next step to further improve their language skills.

Volodymyr’s commitment to both advancing his welding skills and language fluency reflects his determination to thrive in his new home and fully integrate into the Manitoba community.

“I know one rule I can share with you: If you do your job right, life will be good. Every time you need something, you need to work hard. Without hard work, you will never have anything. Whoever doesn’t like to work hard, Canada is not for them.”

Manitoba is my home

A big break, a supportive community, and assistance from newcomer-serving agencies have all contributed to Volodymyr and Daria’s smooth settlement journey. However, it’s evident that their success is also due to their positive attitude and hard work. When asked for advice to fellow newcomers, Volodymyr offers these wise words:

“I know one rule I can share with you: If you do your job right, life will be good. Every time you need something, you need to work hard. Without hard work, you will never have anything. Whoever doesn’t like to work hard, Canada is not for them.”

“Manitoba now is my home. This province opened its doors for me and my family and helped us with everything. You need to like this place. If you don’t like this place, this climate, this people… it will not work. Some might like to live in a big city, but I think this is the best place for me.”

The Kryvenkos’ journey to Manitoba has been marked by resilience, determination, and the unwavering support of their newfound community. From fleeing their home country in search of safety to embracing a new career path and immersing themselves in language and cultural learning, they have overcome challenges along the way. Through hard work and a positive attitude, they have embraced Manitoba as their home, appreciating the warmth of its people and the opportunities it offers. Their story serves as an inspiration to all newcomers, reminding us that with perseverance and an open heart, a new place can become not just a destination, but a true home.