Newcomer Story: Daria Kryvenko

Daria Kryvenko

Have you ever encountered a moment when you felt the undeniable power of destiny?

For Daria, it was a series of positive events that led her to believe that her family was meant to be in Manitoba.

Originally, they hadn’t planned on leaving their country, but like many Ukrainian immigrants, they were forced to flee due to the war. They lived just 38 kilometers away from the starting point of the bombings.

Daria’s family of four had to make the difficult decision to leave for their own safety. They stayed in Lithuania for six months while waiting for their Canadian visa, which they obtained through the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. Finally, in September 2022, they arrived in Canada.

“Everything went so well it was like a fairy tale”

The family chose Manitoba as their destination because it reminded them of home. “Manitoba is very similar to Ukraine. It is a lot of fields, a lot of farmers, it looks like our area in Ukraine,” Daria said.

Daria’s husband, Volodymyr, who is a welder, started looking for a job. After a few weeks, he was contacted by Ag Shield in Benito, Manitoba. Daria said that the company arranged for their Russian-speaking staff, Nikolai, to interview her husband. “They spoke for about an hour and a half about his skills, and in the middle of the conversation he says, ‘yeah, you can move here. If it’s okay with you, we can also find a house for you,’” she recalls.

“We were very surprised. We were just searching for a job, but we found everything. We found a job, we found a house for living, and after this, we found a school for my kids, and I found a job for me right after we arrived,” Daria said.

Feels like home

Right from the start, the community warmly welcomed the Kryvenkos. “Nikolai picked us up from Winnipeg. He and his wife thought about everything. When he picked us up, he had snacks for us and our children. When we got to the house, his wife cooked supper for us. And the house was completely furnished. We had everything!” Daria recalls.

They immediately liked peaceful living in Benito. “You know, it’s a small town but it has everything you need for life. They have a post office, they have a daycare. I know now that it’s very important that the town has a daycare. It has a library, bank, a place for meetings, a recreation centre, we can even get insurance just across the street. But also, it’s nice and it’s quiet. Our children can ride the bike into the street and it’s alright because traffic is slow. I’m proud to live here,” Daria said.

After a few months, Daria was hired at the nearby school to teach 5th to 8th graders. Her job is ideal not only because it’s in her field (she was a teacher at a vocational school back in Ukraine), but also because it’s where her son is enrolled and their baby is in daycare. “We’re all together in one building. We enjoy every day together. We go to school and come home together. Our schedule is so nice, it seems almost impossible” she said.

Even Daria’s son is loving the arrangement. “When my son wants something from me, he just goes out of his class and goes to my class and says ‘mom…’ And I tell him, don’t call me mom at school, I’m Mrs. K here’ (laughs). I ask him not to do this and just wait until we get home. He doesn’t listen to me, but when he comes to my classroom, he now says ‘Mrs. K, can I have you for a minute?”’

“I have been taking classes on this platform since October. I really like it and really I feel that my English has improved a lot. I understand more and can talk more with different people, although I attend only evening classes (as I work). Thanks a lot to the instructors for helping us, this is a really big contribution to our development and adaptation.”

English is very, very important

From the very start, the couple was intent on improving their English. They knew that it is essential, not only for their career growth, but for their daily lives in their new home.

It was a good thing they learned about English Online (EO) from the immigrant centre in Swan River. ”We went there because in the future we want to receive permanent residence and we are working for this. The centre has a face-to-face language program but it won’t work for us because of our schedule. They gave us a flyer and we thought, wow, online is good for us. So we registered. We started attending evening classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” Daria said.

Daria continues to be one of EO’s most active learners, even joining the weekly Language Contest on Facebook and Instagram. In fact, she is one of our Language Contest champions for the quarter. “I’m trying to improve my English in different ways. If I will be typing, if I will comment something, if I will participate in something, it will be great for me,” she said.

Aside from her informal classes at English Online, she practices speaking and writing at school. Daria loves talking to her high-energy students daily, even if sometimes the kids speak too fast for her. She also gets support from her co-teachers. “Our homeroom teacher, she’s an amazing woman. She helps me in everything. She helps me with my English and corrects what I say. And now she gave me the job to check paragraphs children wrote. I asked her, ‘Are you sure? Maybe after I check, you should double-check.’ She said, ‘No, you can do it. It’s good for you.’ So I try. When children write their stories, then I read it, I can search for their mistakes, I can search for wrong punctuation, it’s really good practice,” Daria said.

The future looks bright

Reflecting on how their settlement journey started, Daria believes that everything fell into place because of the help of others. “What’s important in our lives is support. At the school, my husband’s work, our community, the immigration centre, and also at English Online, everybody is supporting us. They are helping us make our lives better, easier,” Daria said.

With their hearts full of gratitude, the Kryvenkos continue to thrive in their new home. But they do not simply depend on fate. They work hard in their respective jobs, and continue striving to improve their language and professional skills. They do this not only for themselves, but to make their supportive community proud and contribute meaningfully to its growth.

Daria’s family’s journey to Manitoba exemplifies the power of destiny intertwined with hard work, support, and gratitude.

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