Second flight bringing Ukrainian evacuees to Canada touches down in Montreal

A teary-eyed Valeriya Berezhnova was emotional when she walked through the airport gates after landing in Montreal on Sunday morning.

Berezhnova was one of 306 Ukrainian evacuees who touched down at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport shortly before 11 a.m. in the second of three charter flights from Warsaw, Poland to Canada helping Ukrainians escape the Russian invasion.

Six days earlier, the first charter brought 328 Ukrainians to Winnipeg. The third flight, bound for Halifax, will take off on June 2.

IN PHOTOS: Montrealers welcome newly arrived Ukrainian evacuees at airport

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has said the three flights will bring around 900 Ukrainians approved for emergency travel into Canada.

With her son, clutching a stuffed teddy bear, sitting on air airport trolley carrying their luggage, Berezhnova shared how difficult it was leaving her home country, and leaving her husband behind in the process.

But the mother said she was also overwhelmed by the warm welcome she received after walking out of the
airport gates following the more than 7,000-kilometre flight.

Valeriya Berezhnova and her son arrived in Montreal on May 29, 2022 from Ukraine. (Credit: CityNews/Brittany Henriques)

The Ukrainian evacuees were met with a welcome committee of smiling Canadians wishing the newcomers well in their new home. Among them were host families. Others were there with gifts and flowers.

Shortly after the plane landed, the committee – many of them holding welcoming signs and waving Ukrainian flags – sang the national anthem of Ukraine.

Montrealers Nicolette and Tom Kovesi were among the host families waiting at the airport. The Kovesi family volunteered to host three Ukrainian evacuees in their home.

The Kovesis said their parents fled Hungary many years ago and were welcomed by Canadians with open arms. They felt it was their duty to pay it forward.

Vlada Polishchuk was on hand to welcome the Ukrainian evacuees with a traditional Ukrainian bread called Korovay.

Ukrainian refugee Olena Malyutyak was also waiting to welcome a family of Ukrainian evacuees. Malyutyak has been in Canada for only 10 days.

Melanie Joly, minister of foreign affairs, welcomed the new arrivals once they landed. Joly said the Canadian government has put in place supports for the families.

“Starting June 2, they will have access to a payment of $3,000. And for every children less than 17, they will have $1,500,” said Joly. “They get a work permit and they are up and running.”

Canada’s government has welcomed thousands of Ukrainians since Russian forces first attacked in late February.

According to federal government data, Canada has received just over 259,000 requests for temporary residency as of May 25, with 120,668 of those applications approved.

—With files from The Canadian Press.

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