Northern Alberta dinosaur museum hosts Ukrainian refugees for a holiday party
At a Christmas celebration with a Cretaceous twist, dozens of Ukrainian refugees gathered at a dinosaur museum in northwest Alberta to share a meal, a movie and some Christmas magic.
“We have to communicate. We have to talk a lot. We have to be together here,” said event organizer Roman Masiuk.
Masiuk began work at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum about 20 kilometers west of Grande Prairie, Alta. after arriving in Canada on September 23.
Masiuk will spend this Christmas without his family. They plan to come to Canada in the spring.
For this reason, the museum technician organized the meeting on December 22 to bring together refugees in the area to enjoy food, a film and a translated museum tour.
“This is a very important day for me,” said Masiuk.
Olena Kovalinska’s family, who were among dozens of refugees who attended the event, said their family will celebrate Ukrainian Christmas on January 7, but they would also celebrate on December 25.
“We just saw Your Christmas in the cinema, so everything is new for us,” Kovalinska said.
“And it’s like magic,” said her husband Iaroslav Kovalinskiy.
The family lived in central Ukraine before fleeing the war-torn country for Poland last spring. In August, the couple arrived in Grande Prairie with their two children and dog.
“We are so thankful for this event. She is so interesting for us,” said Kovalinska.
While many of the participants were newcomers, others who had been in Canada for some time were happy to join in the celebrations.
The Rudyks relocated to Alberta from Kyiv in 2011 to be closer to family members who live in the province.
As refugees arrived this year, Olena Rudyk helped organize events in Grande Prairie to bring newcomers and the existing Ukrainian community together.
“We try to help here as best we can,” said Rudyk.
Kovalinska said some of her relatives are living through the war this holiday season.
Finding refuge in Canada has helped her feel confident about her children’s future.
“We have no valid reason for this step,” said Kovalinska. “But for us who live in Canada, it’s a brave new life.”
Grande Prairie is 450 kilometers northwest of Edmonton.