Almost eight years ago, Iryna left her home in the Ukraine. She moved to Canada with her two small children and Canadian husband. Iryna remembers, “It was a beautiful time of year with flowers everywhere and trimmed lawns. It made my arrival special.” Iryna didn’t know much about Canada, but she knew she wanted to live someplace warm. Her husband looked around southern BC and liked the Castlegar area. By chance they bought a house in an old Doukhobor orchard near the only preschool in the area - and it happened to be a Russian preschool!
Iryna was busy those first few months settling into her new home. She felt isolated and a little lonely so far away from her active social life in the Ukraine. She saw an ad on TV for ESL lessons and decided to give them a try. She felt nervous, but knew she needed to learn English to be successful in Canada. Iryna started going to ESL classes at the Castlegar Public Library. Soon she and her children were invited to a Halloween party at Kootenay Family Place. It was nice to meet other families there. She says, “ESL Family Time provided a new community for me in my early years here.”
Iryna has a diploma in hairdressing and another in office management from the Ukraine. Before she moved to Canada, she worked as a secretary at the largest dairy-processing facility in the Ukraine. The ESL classes Iryna attended in Castlegar gave her the English skills and confidence to go back to school. When her children started school, Iryna went to Selkirk College and earned a diploma in Early Childhood Education (ECE).
Iryna has achieved many things in her eight years here. She worked hard on her English and wrote the CELPIP exam. Her score helped her become a Canadian Citizen. She recently received a Selkirk Excellence Award for Psychology. Iryna is looking forward to using her ECE training when she starts work in September at the Children’s Orchard Russian Preschool. She has met many Russian-speaking Doukhobor and Russian-Ukrainian immigrants; they even have a small social club.
Iryna has some good advice for newcomers to Canada, “Don’t hesitate to participate in ESL programs and join the programs that introduce and integrate foreigners into the community. It will help you settle in your new home!”
Settlement Worker - Trail & Area