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'A wonderful gift': Ukrainian family moves rent-free into new Port Moody, B.C., apartment


When Russian bombs started dropping on small towns outside Kyiv, the Kovalivs, who lived near hard-hit Bucha, fled to Poland. From there, the couple decided to take their three kids to Vancouver, where dad Petro had studied theology at Regent College 15 years ago.

“We asked our friends to find us an apartment to stay, and this is beyond what we could expect. Not only the apartment, but everything that’s in it,” said Petro, as he moved his family into a brand new, fully furnished, three-bedroom unit at a building in Port Moody, which the developer is letting them live in for free.

“We are really grateful,” Kovaliv added. “This is a really amazing, wonderful gift.”

The president and CEO of Woodbridge Homes, Jamie Howard, says the inspiration for the gifted apartment – the second one he’s offered to displaced Ukrainian families at his new rental building “The Moody” – was his Ukrainian grandfather, who moved here over a century ago.

“Canadians helped him,” said Howard. “And now we are the established Canadians two generations later, and it seemed appropriate to me we have to help these families coming from these very difficult circumstances.”

Svitlana Kominko, who runs the Ukrainian settlement organization Maple Hope Foundation, was there to welcome the family to their new apartment.

“It’s a happy day for us to witness their joy, their happiness, their welcome,” Kominko said.

And the builders’ generosity is now inspiring others in Metro Vancouver’s development community.

“When people watch great things….they want to be part of that,” said Kominko. “We are hearing from property management companies, from developers and that they are ready as soon as units become vacant to give these units to Ukrainians.” But she said more is needed, and urged anyone who can help with housing or employment to visit the Ukrainian Vancouver website

Howard says watching 12-year-old Svyata, six-year-old Daniel and four-year-old Anya Kovaliv in their new bedrooms opening donated presents is reward enough.

“It’s amazing to see the kids in particular relax and get excited to be children again. It’s wonderful,” said Howard.

The Kovalivs plan to enrol their three children in school as soon as possible. And Petro hopes to find work teaching at a bible college. “It was very stressful, all the moves,” he said. “So we hope we get settled, we feel safe, our kids feel safe, and we get some rest. And then, we go from there.” Top Stories

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