Ukrainian refugees find safe haven in Killarney

Tetiana and her son Mykyta Lushtaienko already settling into a new life


The first refugee family escaping from Ukraine has arrived in town.

Tetiana Lushtaienko, along with her young son Mykyta, arrived earlier this week, after fleeing unprovoked bombardment in Ukraine by invading Russian forces.

Canada has been fast-tracking routes for Ukrainians to enter the country, and host families, like Rick Pauls, who owns the Blarney Restaurant and the Marketplace, have stepped up to make room, and to make them welcome during the horrendous crisis overseas.

“They are so happy to be here,” said Pauls on Tuesday. “Mykyta is starting school tomorrow, in Grade 1, and Tetiana is joining our team at the Marketplace. Mykyta was very excited to see a Canada goose, and a deer, on his first day here in Canada.”

Tetiana’s husband Anton remains in Ukraine, where men have been ordered to stay, with many fighting the invading forces. The family is from Odesa, on the south coast, which has recently been a target for the Russian military forces.

“We never thought we’d be killed in our own towns, and in our own homes,” said Tetiana. “I am so happy and so grateful to be here in Killarney. Ukrainians are hardworking. We just need jobs, and a place to live, and English lessons.”

In the Ukraine Tetiana was a regional jewellery store manager for 10 stores. Her husband is a tire shop manager, she said, but most of his employees fled to the countryside when the war started.

“They both can’t wait for Anton to come and join them, as soon as this horrific war is over,” said Pauls. 

Pauls added that witnessing the current refugee exodus from Ukraine has resonated historically and emotionally with him and his family. 

“My grandparents fled from Zaporizhzhia, in the Ukraine, about 100 years ago,” he said. “It’s amazing that now history is repeating itself.”

Two other families from Ukraine are currently finalizing paperwork, and will soon be arriving in Killarney, he said. 

Members of the community who would like to help these families find a safe landing are invited to contact Pauls for more information. 

FIRST FAMILY ARRIVES FROM UKRAINE – Mykyta (left) and his mother Tetiana Lushtaienko were safely welcomed here this week, after a difficult exodus from Odesa, in Ukraine. Rick Pauls is currently hosting the refugee family at his lakeshore Young Street home, and says more families are on the way to Killarney. Tetiana’s husband Anton remains in Ukraine, along with most other adult males, many of whom are engaged in repelling the invading Russian military forces.