They no longer dream of going anywhere else

It is three and a half months ago that the Antipova-Mikhiyenko family left Ukraine in a panic to come and settle in Quebec. Our journalist, who welcomed her the first month after her arrival, met her to talk about her adjustment.

Posted at 13.00.

Catherine Handfield

Catherine Handfield
The press


Demian, 6, runs to the picnic table where his parents are installed, in Michel-Chartrand Park in Longueuil. He points to a large ground hog waddling in the grass a few feet away. “Babak” means “ground hog” in Ukrainian.

“We have never seen marmots in the wild in Ukraine. I know that, but they are more careful!”, Explains his father, Vitaliy Mikhiyenko, showing the same astonished expression as his son.


Natalia Antipova, Vitaliy Mikhiyenko, Demian and Zoriana

Three and a half months after their arrival in Quebec, Mikhiyenkos, like good Europeans, is still fascinated by marmots, squirrels and other wildlife in Quebec. But slowly Vitaliy Mikhiyenko, Natalia Antipova, Zoriana and Demian are adapting to their new environment.

“We no longer feel that we are in transit here,” explains Vitaliy Mikhiyenko.

Outflow of generosity

On March 29, the family arrived in Montreal with three suitcases in hand. She had left Ukraine a month earlier, a few hours after the first Russian strikes, to seek refuge in Slovakia. Meanwhile, Canada accepted his application for permanent residence, which had been completed a few years earlier.

The outpouring of generosity towards the Mikhiyenko family has been unique. The administration of a rental apartment building in Longueuil offered to house her for a year for free. A reader of The press volunteered to help family members move and fully equipped their kitchen. Affected by their story, a businessman from Montreal gave them a car.

“We were taken and installed in our lives in Quebec,” Vitaliy Mikhiyenko sums up, mimicking a mechanical shovel with his hand. It feels like: he’s grateful.

Between good news and discouragement

The whole family is fine. Natalia has taken franchise courses for which she receives reimbursement. The children went to school in the spring and are now at day camp. Vitaliy Mikhiyenko works for a Chicoutimi company that develops software for managing health, safety and the environment. It allows him to work remotely.

  • Visiting Quebec


    Visiting Quebec

  • In Granby


    In Granby

  • On the Boucherville ferry


    On the Boucherville ferry

  • In Saguenay


    In Saguenay

  • Close to home, in Longueuil


    Close to home, in Longueuil

  • I Chambly


    I Chambly

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Vitaliy Mikhiyenko met his colleagues for the first time last month while taking part in a dragon boat race in Saguenay. Antipova-Mikhiyenkos visited several other cities – Quebec, Chambly, Saint-Hyacinthe, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Granby, Sherbrooke. They are keeping an eye on the price of houses in hopes of one day becoming homeowners.

Meanwhile, Vitaliy Mikhiyenko is trying to sell his house in Poltava in central Ukraine, which requires complex administrative procedures.

He makes no secret of it: he sometimes has periods of discouragement. For example, he passed part of his theoretical driving test, which he considers to be too subjective (he fortunately passed the test in the second attempt). He also struggles to navigate Quebec’s health care system, “the only serious drawback compared to Ukraine,” he said.


Demian at home in Longueuil

“When I failed the third part of that test, or when I wanted to go to the doctor – and of course there are no doctors in Canada – I jokingly say to my family: ‘We buy tickets to Ukraine and go back.’ Natalia replies to me: “Okay, but go alone”, says Vitaliy Mikhiyenko laughing. They like to live here. ”

The children made friends at school. Demian met a Ukrainian girl who had also fled her country. Zoriana, 11, became friends with a girl from Bangladesh. What language do you speak to each other? Zoriana understands the question, even though it is asked in French. “A little English, a little French,” she replies, a sign that the Quebec accent is also slowly taking hold.

Parents are pleasantly surprised by Quebec’s summer weather. They also like the spontaneity of Quebecers, with whom it is easy to strike up a conversation for no particular reason.

Natalia Antipova, who still speaks a little French and English, remains hopeful of one day finding a job in her field: coaching professional. Already, several of his dreams have come true, such as living abroad, living near water and living near skyscrapers (their apartment is on the edge of the St. Lawrence River).

Natalia Antipova explains something in Russian to her husband, who is translating. “Now that she has moved to Canada, she no longer dreams of going anywhere else. She wants to live here and improve her life here. »

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