North Battleford woman wants to give niece fleeing Ukraine a home in Sask.

A North Battleford woman is trying to help her 16-year-old niece get to Canada.

North Battleford resident says niece wants desperately to go home some day

Kateryna Derevianko is in Poland as her grandmother is in hospital. She deeply wants to be able to go home to Ukraine, but for now her aunt is working to bring her to Canada for now as the war continues. (Submitted by Maryna Shkarupa)

A North Battleford woman is working to bring a teenage niece fleeing Ukraine to Saskatchewan, and is hoping the federal government can open the country's doors to allow her in.

Maryna Shkarupa told her sister that she could provide safety for 16-year-old Kateryna Derevianko in Canada.

"If you want to save life for your daughter, save future for your daughter, you can send her to me," she said, recounting her conversation with her sister to CBC's Samanda Brace.

"She was crying when she left her mom, her brother, her step-father."

Crossing the Polish border

Shkarupa said the road to refuge was difficult for Derevianko and Uliana Kavitska, Shkarupa's 66-year-old mother. They fled their home of Kryvyi Rih in south central Ukraine together for security in Poland.

It took 17 hours standing in a shoulder-tight train to get from their home in Ukraine to near the Polish border, according to Shkarupa.

The grandmother has knee problems and health conditions that made standing hard and the travel grueling.

Uliana Kavitska, 66, with her grandkids. She is in hospital with pneumonia and COVID-19 following an exhausting three-day trip out of Ukraine. (Submitted by Maryna Shkarupa)

Shkarupa said the train was full of women and children, and almost everyone on board was crying.

"Family [is] broken and they have to leave behind their husbands or dad . . . it was mentally hard [and] physically very hard," Shkarupa said.

The trip took three days. When her mother got to the border, she couldn't walk. She fell ill and has been taken to hospital. Shkarupa said she recently learned Kavitska has COVID-19 and pneumonia.

Bringing family to Saskatchewan

Kavitska already has a visa to come to Canada and completed Derevianko's application, but the process brings challenges.

Derevianko now has to get fingerprinting, which Shkarupa said can only be completed in Warsaw, Poland. She'll have to travel alone now that her grandmother is in the hospital and the family that is housing them is unable.

Shkarupa said she's doing as much of the application as she can from Canada, but the stress has kept Derevianko awake some nights.

"We want to give them family because this girl leaves her family in Ukraine and I tell her, 'I'm your aunty and I will love you even more than before and … you will be with us like our family,''" Shkarupa said.

Saskatchewan immigration minister Jeremy Harrison said the province will welcome as many Ukrainian refugees as Ottawa is willing to resettle in it.

The provincial government has set aside $335,000 in settlement funds for Ukrainian families displaced by the war in Ukraine and will work with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to help support them.

In early March, federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said Canada would waive most typical visa requirements to help bring in an "unlimited number" of Ukrainians to Canada.

That includes a new visa category that will allow resettled Ukrainians to live, work or study here for up to two years.

About 1.5 million refugees had fled as o March 6, according to a report from Thomson Reuters

None had resettled in Saskatchewan as of Wednesday.

Matt Galloway talks to Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Larisa Galadza, about what happens next with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the rush to help refugees fleeing the war.

With files from Samanda Brace


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