Nfld. & Labrador

Joyful reunion for Ukrainian family finally together again in their new Labrador home

The Panasyk family was displaced from Ukraine and separated while working to come to Canada. Now they're back together. 

Vasyl Panasyk and his son, Yurii, are now reunited with wife and two daughters

A man embraces his wife with a smile.
The Panasyk family was reunited in Labrador on Wednesday after being separated in Poland. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

A jubilant crowd gathered Wednesday at the Goose Bay airport to witness the tearful reunion of a Ukrainian family who were separated when they left their home country for Canada after the Russian invasion.

Vasyl Panasyk and his son, Yurii, arrived in October to start anew in Canada. The two found work in construction and found housing so they could bring over Panasyk's wife and two daughters. 

After Panasyk and his son found a home, Panasyk's wife, Iryna, and daughters Liudmyla, 10, and Anastasiia, 13, were able to travel on the fourth charter bringing Ukrainians to Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Very pleased to be here, very pleased, very excited," said Liudmyla through a notable translator: Lake Melville's Liberal MHA Perry Trimper, who worked in Russia and Ukraine for 14 years.

WATCH: Ukrainian family reunited in Labrador 

Ukrainian family reunites in Labrador

2 months ago
Duration 0:59
Vasyl Panasyk and his son Yurii fled the war in Ukraine, landing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in October. Now Panasyk has welcomed his wife and daughter to their new home.

Liudmyla said she, her mother and sister, started the trip in western Poland before flying to Newfoundland on a 10-hour flight with a refuelling stop in Iceland. Upon arriving, the three stayed overnight at Trimper's residence in St. John's before flying to Labrador. 

"Her mother was falling asleep, the adults were falling asleep. The kids were just, they wanted to go on the plane. So there's lots of energy," Trimper said. 

A man embraces his daughter with a smile.
Vasyl Panasyk's wife and two daughters were waiting in Poland for the family to find adequate housing in Canada. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Liudmyla said she hopes to have adventures, study English and to find a lot of friends in Labrador.

The family was sponsored to come to Labrador by the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Ministerial Association, which is composed of the leaders of the five different churches in the community.

A group of girls hold signs that say welcome while wearing girl guide sashes and pins.
More than a dozen girl guides came out to welcome the two Ukrainian girls. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

They were welcomed by the association, community members, businesses and the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Girl Guides with flowers, gift cards, a quilt in the colours of Labrador's flag, and chocolates. The girl guides painted posters to show their support for the young girls. 

"It's really wonderful. It's a wonderful welcome to see so many potential friends," said Liudmyla.

A woman smiles while holding up a blue, green and white quilt.
A group of volunteers created a Labrador quilt to give to the Pasanyk family for when they were reunited in Labrador. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Trimper travelled to Labrador from St. John's with the group to act as translator.

"I have really no concern about how they're going to do here," said Trimper. "They're going to be very successful.

"We can only imagine what it must be like to have your family and your community ripped apart and then to be the target of so much hatred and then to come here with this amazing warm welcome."

He said the Panasyk family and another who arrived on the same charter will both have case managers to make sure they get what they need to begin their lives in Canada. 

A girl smiles at the camera while wearing a white, pink and brown sweater.
Liudmyla Panasyk, 10, says she hopes to have many adventures, learn English and make new friends in Labrador. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Anastasiia and Liudmyla are set to begin school soon at Mealy Mountain Collegiate and Queen of Peace School respectively. The two are learning English but Liudmyla said it's harder than learning Polish. 

"Polish and Ukrainian are very close," said Liudmyla. "English is going to be another thing."

A group of people stand together for a photograph. There's a Ukrainian flag from the ceiling along side a Canadian one.
A happy crowd gathered in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to welcome the Panasyk family with gifts and signs. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heidi Atter

Mobile Journalist

Heidi Atter is a journalist working in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. She has worked as a reporter, videojournalist, mobile journalist, web writer, associate producer, show director, Current Affairs host and radio technician. Heidi has worked in Regina, Edmonton, Wainwright, and in Adazi, Latvia. Story ideas? Email heidi.atter@cbc.ca.

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