Dear People of Sun Peaks,
I’m writing this letter to update you on our plans for the future as we have left Sun Peaks.
When I think back to the end of April when we arrived in Vancouver, it was very hard. Everything was so different, we were in a new country, one that we didn’t know much about. So far from our families, and our supports. It was pretty scary, and it seemed very expensive too. And it was all happening so fast.
Less than a month earlier we had put a posting on Facebook saying that we would like to come to Canada but we would need some help.
Alex and I were working at a casino in the Czech Republic, and our daughter Kristina was with us, going to kindergarten. My parents were looking after Sandra [our second daughter], but we were all afraid that a war was coming and so my father brought Sandra to us. One week later the war started, and Canada offered visas to Ukrainians who wanted to go to Canada. We had never thought of it, it just didn’t seem possible for people like us to come. So we put our post on Facebook.
Then the magic started. On April 5th, Alesya Sharay, who I think had lived at Sun Peaks at some point, saw my post. She asked if we still needed help with coming to Canada. She said she was from Kamloops, B.C. and that people in the area could find us a job and a place to live. She asked lots of questions, what our work experience was, did we need help with air fares, etc. Then she organized a video call and told us she had been at a meeting and that Al Raine, the mayor of Sun Peaks, said his community wanted to help some Ukrainian families.
She asked us lots of questions and she passed the information on to Al. Eventually we had a video call from Al, and then with the host families, Pat and Larry Linton and Julie and Brad Emond. Three weeks later we arrived in Vancouver. It is hard to believe, it seemed to happen so fast.
But everyone helped, even when we first arrived in Vancouver and stayed at the Rosedale Hotel for three days thanks to Jillian Francis who we still have not met. We loved Vancouver, and started to feel better right away, and that we hadn’t made a mistake.
Then we came to Sun Peaks and everyone helped. Everyone asked, what do you need, they really wanted to help. We don’t know how to thank them all, but for sure special thanks go to Al and Nancy Raine, and especially Pat and Larry Linton who gave us their beautiful suite to live in for free. It was unbelievable. And there were so many others. People who brought us food, and toys for the kids. It has been like living in a fairy tale, when you come and people give you everything, it made us feel so good in our hearts.
I am just so happy to be here, in Canada and to get a start like this, it is truly a dream come true. Everyone we’ve met has given us support. Everyone wanted to help.
The people at the Cahilty Lodge were wonderful, David, Calvin and Mike, giving us an opportunity to clean the inside of people’s cars in their garage. We were able to earn some money right away, and to save enough money, after the first couple of months, so we could buy our own groceries, and then save enough money to buy our own car.
Then I got a job working in the Grand Hotel, and the people I worked with were so good, helping me so much when I struggled with my English. Thank you Steve Novak, Jimmy Pygott and chef Eric.
Then Alex got the job at the casino in Kamloops, and he did well there and they recommended him to apply for a better position at the new casino in Delta that has just opened. So we are on our way. Alex likes his job, and he’s very good at it, it is what he did in the Czech Republic. The opportunity for us is really, really good. He is very happy to find a job like this. It’s unbelievable to get a Pit Manager job after only being in Canada for six months.
Our girls are happy, they loved to play with the other kids, they are learning so much. Kristina loved going to school in Sun Peaks, she always said how good the teachers are, she loved her teacher. And she is starting to speak some English now, every day a few new words. It is so important for her to get this good experience, so that school will be a positive experience. Now Sandra really wants to go to kindergarten — we hope to find a day care place for her in White Rock.
There are so many people to thank. Barbara Mowat has been amazing to help us connect to people, even in the Vancouver area. And Sandy Campbell, with her wonderful positive energy, phoning us to offer things for our new home. Sandy found us through Kelly Brown, who we’d met cleaning cars. That was such a great opportunity for us. The people we met through cleaning their cars have helped in so many other ways too.
We will always be grateful to the people of Sun Peaks. We know we have had financial support through Sun Peaks Community Helps charity, which received donations from many, many people in the community. They paid our airfares, and our groceries for the first few months.
While we are now living in White Rock for Alex’s new job, and have found a nice apartment to live in, we will never forget our time in Sun Peaks and all the wonderful people we have met.
We will return to visit you again.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The Osipov Family
Natalia, Alex, Kristina & Sandra