Kingston, Ont., Ukrainian refugees reflect on one year of war – Kingston

On a calm Sunday morning, a mix of locals and Ukrainian refugees gathered at St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kingston, Ontario.

Within the past year, it has become a sanctuary for some who have arrived in Kingston during a period of life that is unfathomably frightening.

Sasha Hanjia arrived in the city in October and said it was not an easy journey.

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“After I fled Kiev, I went to Lviv and stayed there for a few weeks. After Lviv started getting bombed, I took a bus from the Red Cross to Poland,” he said through an interpreter.

He came to Kingston directly from Poland and has been waiting there ever since.

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He said he was incredibly grateful to the community for reaching out to him and others, and for their kindness.

St. Michael’s pastor, Father Roman Ritzal, said Sunday’s service was special to honor those who lost their lives in the Ukrainian-Russian war that began last year.

“Ukrainians are tough people and it’s very hard to beat them,” he said.

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Despite the horrors they faced last year, many who attended the service found reasons to smile as they remembered what they had lost.

“I feel sorry for those who could not escape Ukraine and stayed there, many of whom died in bombings,” Hanzia said.

Despite being in Kingston because his own life had been turned upside down, Hangia’s heart was returning to his hometown on the other side of the world.

“I am happy to come here to the Ukrainian church and pray for those who have stayed in Ukraine.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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