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Ukrainian newcomers experience Sudbury hockey game for the first time

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Dozens of Ukrainian newcomers who recently arrived in Canada experienced a hockey game for the first time Thursday night.

Blaine Smith, managing director of the Sudbury Cubs, said he asked officials with City of Greater Sudbury to get in touch with immigration services.

He was able to invite 60 Ukrainians to Thursday’s game and roughly half attended. Smith said it’s a part of the team’s ongoing effort to connect with the community.

“When you have a number of immigrants coming to Sudbury for the first time and they’ve been there for a few months, we have an opportunity to showcase what the Cubs are about and our organization,” Smith said.

Oleksy Mardynov arrived in Sudbury from Ukraine two and a half months ago with his wife and four children. Mardynov said he used to live in an area of Bucha, which was heavily destroyed by Russian forces.

He watched his apartment -- and his family’s safety -- crumble simultaneously.

“When the Russians attack you every day, each day, you’re under attack, you don’t have electricity, you don’t have water,” Mardynov said.

He said he knew many who lost their lives or were injured.

“We’re lucky because we’re alive,” Mardynov said. “We came to Canada and Canada helped Ukrainians.”

He chose Sudbury because he got a job. He also enjoys the fact there’s less traffic.

“When I was in Ukraine I spent maybe two hours one way to my job and two hours back,” Mardynov said.

“Now here it’s much easier, much simpler.”

He said he’s grateful for the kindness of Canadians and their support of Ukraine.

“Canadians try to keep in mind that someone has different opinions and it’s OK,” Mardynov said.

“It’s really necessary not only for our situation (in Ukraine) but for life.”

He’s attended a hockey game before and said it’s the atmosphere that he loves.

“This atmosphere inside the arena inspires you, you want to win,” Mardynov said, adding the players’ dedication sets a good example for his children.

Miryna Omlianovska, on the other hand, was experiencing a hockey game for the first time.

“I’m excited because it’s a very exciting show,” Omlianovska said.

“A lot of emotions. I can’t wait to see it.”

Dozens of Ukrainian newcomers who recently arrived in Canada experienced a hockey game for the first time Thursday night. (Amanda Hicks/CTV News)

She arrived in Sudbury with her husband and two daughters on Oct. 17. Omlianovska remembers the day well.

“We will remember this day because it was our first day in Sudbury,” she said.

She also remembers it because her parents are still in Kyiv. That night, there was bombing and Omlianovska was worried for her parents.

“I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning,” she said.

“I was reading the news and I called my mom and said ‘are you OK?’”

She expects she will be reunited with her parents in a few weeks after her father obtains his Canadian visa.

Omlianovska said there are a lot of opportunities in the city for families.

“My small daughter will go to Ukrainian dance lessons,” she said. “Lot of opportunities for families to be healthy, spend time together.”

Omlianovska said this will be her first Canadian winter, but she loves the snow.

“Winter is wonderful,” she said.

Omlianovska said there’s no snow in Ukraine and it’s much milder.

In Ukraine, she said temperatures will reach -10C, but not much colder. Sudbury has experienced a milder winter this year than in years past.

“Maybe we are bringing the Ukrainian temperatures here,” she laughs.

She said she plans to stay in Sudbury for a long time and now considers it her home.

The Sudbury Cubs say they plan to invite other community groups to games in the future. 

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