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One Home for Seven Families from Ukraine

Dunvegan Inn & Suites | Fairview, AB Photography by Bert Reynolds

In April, Dunvegan Inn & Suites opened its doors to Ukrainians seeking a safe home and employment following the Russian Invasion that left millions of Ukrainians displaced.

"We saw a TV interview with a member of the Edmonton Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress asking for assistance,” said Dunvegan Inn & Suites Owner Betty James. “We supplied information regarding our accommodations and employment opportunities, so Ukrainians looking for help could access it.”

Betty James has been a Fairview business owner for over 50 years. She and her family have always embraced their Ukrainian heritage, so they jumped at the chance to help.

“After several days of no response to our offer with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Betty posted the offer on social media, and we were contacted within hours,” said Dunvegan Inn & Suites Assistant General Manager Valerie Reynolds. “Over the next number of weeks, 22 people fleeing the Russian Invasion arrived in Fairview.”

In the time since the first Ukrainians arrived in early May, one person has moved to Edmonton and another has returned to Ukraine with her son.

Betty James, and the whole Dunvegan Inn & Suites family, would like to introduce everyone to the wider region.

Natalia Oleshchuk & family

Natalia Oleshchuk, 34, and her husband Oleh, 34, arrived in Fairview on May 3, with their children Maksym, 12, and Anastasiia, 8.

When we were looking for a place to hide from the war, I saw a post on the internet by a girl named Anna who lives not far from Fairview. She told me about the Dunvegan Inn & Suites where they agreed to help us.

It was a great option for us—a quiet town where there is work and people who are ready to help us.

In Ukraine, I worked as an accountant for a large company, and my husband had his own business. He was a welder. At the Dunvegan Inn & Suites, I work at the front desk, and my husband works as a welder at Flaman Sales & Rentals in Fairview.

Fairview is a very calm and quiet town with a lot of good, friendly people. My family and I are sincerely grateful for everyone’s help. We found many people here who became good friends for us.

When the war started in Ukraine, we thought we had lost everything. All we had when we left Ukraine was hope for the future and hope that we would continue to live. When we came to Canada, we had hope for a new future for our children. And, it’s all thanks to the kindness of people.

Kateryna Katerynchuk & family

Kateryna Katerynchuk, 44, and her children Anton, 16, and Nadiia, 11, came to Fairview on May 4. Her husband Serhii, 45, and eldest son Oleksii, 22, have remained in Ukraine and cannot leave.

A friend from my city who lives in Canada suggested an option for me and my children in Alberta, Canada.

My city is bombed every day. There is a nuclear power plant that was occupied by Russian troops. Explosions occur next to the nuclear power plant, which they arrange. There is no electricity. Houses are destroyed by bombs.

In Ukraine, I worked as a teacher for 21 years, and my husband was the head of investment projects at a metallurgical plant.

My children studied at the physics and mathematics school. My eldest son graduated from the university in Kharkov and received a diploma in architecture. We had a big house and a beloved golden retriever, Gerda. We were happy until the war started.

At Dunvegan Inn & Suites, I work as a housekeeper. Dunvegan Inn & Suites is a large, beautiful hotel.

Fairview is a small but beautiful town. There are good people who can help during difficult times. There is a swimming pool, bowling alley and other things. We really enjoyed Canada Day and the fireworks.

Romaniia Konik & family

Romaniia, 30, and her husband Roman, 34, came to Fairview on June 24 with son Davyd, 3.

I am a hairdresser by profession, but most of the time I worked as a waiter. In Ukraine, my husband Roman obtained his master’s degree in business project management.

We learned about this beautiful town from a friend, who previously came here with his family.

We do not speak English, so there are difficulties. Mrs. Betty welcomed us here. She gave us free housing for the first time and the opportunity to work for her, even without knowing the language, for which we are very grateful.

I work as a cleaner at Dunvegan Inn & Suites. My husband works at Boucher Bros. My son goes to St. Thomas More playschool, and he's happy to spend time there.

Fairview is a very beautiful town with an extremely kind, sincere and smiling people. We like it here, and we feel very calm here. This is important for our family since it is not calm in Ukraine right now and our relatives are there.

We are very grateful for the help given to us by Mrs. Betty, Mrs. Valerie and Mr. Bert. They spent their most valuable time on us. I want to thank them sincerely for everything they did for us.

Tetiana Pylypets & family

Tetiana, 39, and her husband Andrii, 41, arrived in Fairview on June 24, with their children Lubomyr, 21, Nazar, 16, and Maksym, 12.

My family arrived in Fairview, where my cousin was with her family at the time.

Mrs. Betty gave free housing for my family and the opportunity to work without knowing English. She also helped us draw up all the necessary documents.

My son Nazar and I work in the kitchen at the Dunvegan Inn & Suites, where we have the opportunity to do what we love.

We met many friendly people in Fairview. We visited the local Catholic church. My family is sincerely grateful to Mrs. Betty and her entourage for their help and support during this difficult period of our lives. We also thank all residents of this town for accepting us into their community!

Rita Yulina & family

Marharyta “Rita” Yulina, 37, came to Fairview with her son Illia, 10, on May 7.

My friend saw on Facebook that Ukrainian families can be accepted to the Dunvegan Inn & Suites in Fairview with the possibility of employment and accommodation.

In Ukraine, I worked as an economist in an automobile company. At the Dunvegan Inn & Suites, I work in the kitchen and help in the café. I like that I fit my work schedule and responsibilities.

In Fairview, everything we need is within walking distance for me and my son. Also, the people are very friendly and welcoming. We’ve attended the Summer’s End Festival, and we enjoy going to the pool.

My son and I thank Betty James, Valerie and Bert Reynolds for their help and support. I would also like to thank the hotel staff for their understanding and assistance.

Nataliia Matviichuk

Nataliia Matviichuk, 32, came to Fairview on May 7 with friends Liuba and Rita.

Liuba, my friend from Ukraine, told me about the opportunity to come to Alberta.

Before, I worked as a customer service agent for a branch of online shops, and I made advertisements on Facebook for them. Now, I work as a server in the café. I like to talk with people. It’s good to practice my English and improve my English language skills.

It’s probably good for my health to have dynamic work, so I don’t have to sit near the computer all day. Even though it’s harder than my previous job, I can send money to the Ukrainian army and contribute to our future victory. I can also help my family in Ukraine to survive in such hard times.

Fairview is a nice, beautiful town with kind people. I enjoy spending time here. I have attended a local Veselka dance club concert. It was really great and so touching. I also went to the church a couple times and joined community events there. I went to Dunvegan too. I really enjoy the local nature and beautiful views.

I enjoy talking with people here in Fairview. I was invited to people’s houses for a social gathering too.

Fairview, thank you so much for your welcoming, warm help and kindness in such hard times.

Liubou (Liuba) Cherchevych & family

Liuba Cherchevych, 37, and her son Tykhon, 10, came to Fairview on May 7.

I’ve heard very positive things about Canada for a long time. When the war started, I lost my job, my housing and my stability. For the first few months, we hoped the situation would improve, but there was no improvement. We lived in fear and stress. I was afraid to leave Ukraine and go abroad because I didn’t know the language.

My friend saw on Facebook that the owners of the Dunvegan Inn & Suites in Fairview, Alberta offered to hire Ukrainians. She wrote a letter to Valerie and Betty letting them know I did not speak English at all and that I needed a job and housing.

And then everything was like in a fairy tale. The owners of the hotel said they would be happy to meet me and my son and help us with everything. They were always friendly in correspondence, and my fear completely disappeared. That’s how I ended up in Fairview with my son.

I am an accountant by education. In Ukraine, I worked as an economist for 14 years.

For the first four months in Fairview, I worked as a housekeeper. In September, Valerie asked if I would like to help with the bookkeeping. I really love working with numbers. I go to work with great joy, although not all the tasks can be performed as well as I would like as I am still learning.

I would like to be useful for this hotel and its owners. I want to thank them for everything they have done for me and my family by doing great work for them.

I like that Fairview is not big, and it doesn’t take long to get to the right place. Of course, I really like the people—no one has ever been rude or offended me or my son. Everyone is always smiling.

My child has very positive comments about the school he goes to. He likes going to the swimming pool. And, one of the most important things is in Fairview we have Valerie and Bert, who help us with everything. We are not afraid of anything as they are always here with their help and support.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Valerie, Betty and Bert for everything.


Photo 1: (L to R) BACK: Bert Reynolds, Valerie Reynolds, Shane James, Malvina James, Penny Nesbitt, Terry Nesbitt, Annette James and Bryan James. FRONT: Jason Reynolds and Betty James

Photo 2: Anastasiia, Natalia and Maksym

Photo 3: Anton, Kateryna and Nadiia

Photo 4: Romaniia, Roman and Davyd

Photo 5: Tetiana and Nazar

Photo 6: Illia and Rita

Photo 7: Nataliia Photo 8: Tykhon, Luiba, Rita and Illia

Photo 9: (L to R) TOP: Maksym & Tetiana Pylypets; Roman, Davyd and Romaniia Konik; Maksym Oleshchuk BOTTOM: Andrii, Nazar and Liubomyr Pylypets; Natalia, Oleh and Anastasiia Oleshchuk

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