Ukrainian refugees take first Canadian blizzard in stride


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After escaping war and fleeing to Canada, Ukrainian refugees in Winnipeg were surprised to be confronted by a blizzard in spring.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/04/2022 (294 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After escaping war and fleeing to Canada, Ukrainian refugees in Winnipeg were surprised to be confronted by a blizzard in spring.

The storm, expected to last into Friday and said to be the worst in decades, is just a bump in the road for Tetiana Mksymtsiv, who is staying in a Winnipeg Airbnb.

“The blizzard is quite unexpected and does ruin some of my plans,” said Mksymtsiv. “I read the warning (Tuesday) but didn’t expect the blizzard to cause water and milk shortages in the local supermarket. It was a big surprise.”

Tetiana Mksymtsiv, a refugee from Ukraine who is living in Winnipeg, is used to snow — but not a blizzard in spring. (Submitted photo)

Many Canadians likened the half-empty grocery stores to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but Ukrainians new to Winnipeg are all too familiar with panicked shoppers flooding stores.

“(Tuesday) when all the people were talking about the storm, trying to buy everything in the store and prepare because of this weather, I thought ‘Oh my gosh. I ran away from Ukraine. And now here, it’s kind of the Apocalypse,” said Victoria Akimkina, an English language tutor, who is staying with a family in Winnipeg until she gets a permanent placement.

“People said you’re probably going to lose electricity for several days and I was kind of afraid of the morning because I thought ‘oh my gosh, what will happen tomorrow? How bad will it be?’”

Environment Canada estimates Winnipeg will be blanketed in 30 to 40 centimetres of snow by the time the storm finishes.

“I planned to buy some stuff for my new apartment. Thank God yesterday I arranged a security deposit for a landlord with my bank,” said Mksymtsiv. “I hope the blizzard won’t last long and I will have a chance to move in before Saturday. If not, I will have to find another Airbnb.”

As for Ukrainians whose flights to Manitoba were delayed by the storm, “those are things way out of our control.. but not unexpected in weather like this,” said the provincial Ukrainian Refugee Task Force in a statement in an email.

A central reception centre for Ukrainian refugees who arrive in Manitoba will open near the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport in the coming days. In a news release, Premier Heather Stefanson emphasized the province’s intention to provide displaced Ukrainians “with a full range of support.”

“Usually we don’t have such weather in Ukraine. Yeah, we have snow sometimes but not in the middle of April,” said Akimkina. “Sometimes, there is a small amount in the spring but it melts in several hours not like here where it is like January.”

Mksymtsiv loved to hike in the snow in the Carpathia Mountains in Ukraine while on vacation, seen here in 2017. (Submitted photo)

In Kyiv, Ukraine, it can snow up to eight months of the year and high accumulations are not rare. April is considered a moderate spring month, with the average temperature varying between 5.5°C and 15°C.

But with preparations in place, many of the Ukrainian newcomers are enjoying the weather.

“Yesterday it was like in Ukraine, with the empty shelves, so I didn’t understand what to expect,” said Akimkina, whose host family turned on the Christmas lights so that the feeling “was like Christmas, not Easter… But now, it is like a fairy tale.”


Updated on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 7:56 PM CDT: corrects spelling of name

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