It has been a year since Russia waged a full-scale war on Ukraine. Maria Diiun came to Canada in May of 2022.  She started her story noting it’s been a year since their peaceful lives, hopes and dreams and plans for the future were destroyed. 

"My story starts a year ago, when we woke up in the morning and heard the voice of some explosions. We didn't know at that moment what was happening, and then we turned on our phones and we realized that it actually happened. The war started. We were so confused. It was the scariest moment of our lives. We had to do a lot of hard decisions for our family."

They spent a week in the western part of Ukraine, which was safer than other parts of the country. 

"Then we had to make the hard decision to cross the border and to leave our previous life: my husband, our dad, our family, our home behind and to start our life from scratch.  That was maybe the hardest decision in our life."

Maria and her two children, aged twelve and nine, spent a few months in Europe before boarding a flight to Canada. 

"Our future was not clear at all. We didn't know where to go and what to expect from this country. And then we arrived at the airport, and we felt at that moment a huge relief actually. We found ourselves in a safe place, in a friendly community. Our host family met us, and we made a connection from the first minute. I believe it was the feeling we had done everything right, when we made the decision to come here to Canada and to Morden, especially."

Maria and her two children in Morden with a Ukrainian FlagMaria and her two children in Morden with a Ukrainian Flag

She hopes her husband can one day join her and her two children in Morden, adding her family was scattered all over the world. She also hopes to one day be reunited with them in Ukraine and to hug them and feel the emotional connection they had before. 

"We are really grateful and highly appreciate everything that Canadian and Ukrainian volunteers did for us. We are grateful for everybody who met us here, who helped us with everything, with all our steps. To all our host families who kindly opened their homes, to all charity organizations, to just everyone who supports Ukraine in this unfair confrontation. And we are really grateful for this friendly community, to become a part of it. And I believe all Ukrainians will agree with me."

Maria’s full interview with Reporter Robyn Wiebe.