We are so happy to have Olena Hrushytska as one of our Employment Facilitators at the Immigrant Centre. She is originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Her life has been a test for the past year. However, she has pulled through and is finally here with us. We had the opportunity to interview her. We share what she told us:
Could you tell us a bit about your background, likes and dislikes?
I have a professional background in Information Technology and worked for a trading company in Ukraine for several years. At the same time, I was a volunteer as a 24-hours hotline safety coordinator for my city. Kharkiv has the most significant load of internally displaced people because it is located near the two most affected regions by the war in past years.
Regarding my likes, I enjoy studying neuroscience and animal psychology, growing plants, creating flower bouquets for my loved ones, playing piano, and cross-stitching.
What were the circumstances that led you to move to Canada?
On 24 February 2022, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning at the sound of shells. For the following weeks after that morning, I became one more among the millions of people who had to hide from bombs in the subway and flee the city. Like most, I had to decide what belongings to take, put notes with information in my child’s pocket in case something happened to me, and watch with sad eyes what was happening -and continues to happen- to my motherland. I ended up crossing the border on foot, clenching my dog to my chest, holding my child’s hand, and experiencing what thousands of refugees were going through in this crisis. In a short period, we visited a few Romanian cities and the Siret refugee camp. Soon after, I travelled to Hungary, lived in three different towns in Germany, then went to the Netherlands, landed in Toronto in April 2022, and came to Winnipeg right after. I feel fortunate to have chosen Manitoba, where I have family connections. I will never regret it.
How do you feel about what you are doing for fellow Ukrainians today?
My position at the Immigrant Centre is to provide employment support to Ukrainian-speaking clients. I help them prepare resumes, provide information about jobs available, and organize meetings for them with potential employers. I also guide clients to attend important workshops on topics such as conducting a job search, acquiring interview skills, learning about the Canadian workplace culture, and more.
However, I firmly believe that providing my clients with moral support is also relevant. They come for assistance with career decisions and want to understand Canada’s labor market. These clients may have strong languages skills and speak multiple languages like Polish, Czech, or German, but they may not know enough English to enter the labor market in their fields. Most are overqualified for the pool of entry-level positions available to them. This fact creates a problematic life situation they will have to overcome, and the rapport built with these clients provides them with hope for the future. I explain to them that once they acquire the language, they will be able to find employment in their fields where they can contribute their unique qualifications and professionalism to our province.
We admire your determination, Olena! And we thank your for al you do for our clients at the Immigrant Centre.