September 23, 2023

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New class, new nation: Kids escaping battle in Ukraine prepare to start out college in Manitoba

New class, new nation: Kids escaping battle in Ukraine prepare to start out college in Manitoba

Like many different five-year-olds, Maksym Okhrimenko is on the point of begin kindergarten. However for him, meaning extra than simply getting used to a brand new class or instructor. 

Maksym is on the point of be taught in a brand new language, in a brand new metropolis, in a brand new nation. 

“He does not communicate any English and it is actually an issue now, however I believe will probably be quick when he begins” college, mentioned his mother, Yuliia Okhrimenko. 

“Every part will likely be OK.”

She and her son are among the many greater than 6,000 Ukrainians who’ve arrived in Manitoba in latest months, following Russia’s invasion of the nation. That features greater than 800 youngsters, in line with a spokesperson for the Manitoba authorities. 

Whereas it is too early to know what number of newly arrived Ukrainian college students will enrol in Manitoba faculties this fall, a corporation that is been working with households estimates that quantity could possibly be within the lots of. 

The provincial spokesperson mentioned the province is anticipating this yr’s college registration numbers to be excessive, as a result of variety of Ukrainians who’ve gone via the provincial reception centre. 

Yuliia Okhrimenko and her son, Maksym, arrived in Winnipeg in Could. Her husband continues to be in Ukraine. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Yuliia and Maksym Okhrimenko landed in Winnipeg in Could. She lastly made the troublesome choice to flee Ukraine after spending greater than every week sheltering underground.

“It was not potential to reside with my son underground,” mentioned Okhrimenko.

Her husband, not allowed to depart the nation, stayed behind.

She did not know anybody in Manitoba however made the choice to maneuver to the province due to its massive Ukrainian neighborhood. 

Manitoba Mother and father for Ukrainian Schooling, a corporation that advocates for the English-Ukrainian bilingual program supplied in 11 Manitoba faculties, helped her navigate the varsity system right here, Okhrimenko mentioned, and Maksym will likely be attending this system at Prince Edward College this fall.

‘They have been via plenty of issues’

Mariia Nevoit, a particular initiative co-ordinator with Manitoba Mother and father for Ukrainian Schooling, spent the summer time connecting with households like Okhrimenko’s to reply questions in regards to the bilingual program and faculty registration.

Nevoit mentioned most of the households she’s talked with have been taken with faculties that supply the English-Ukrainian program. This system shouldn’t be obtainable for highschool college students. 

“One of many predominant the reason why folks select our program, particularly proper now, is as a result of the English-Ukrainian program is much less irritating for youths who already are confused sufficient,” mentioned Nevoit, who was a part of this system herself when she moved from Ukraine to Winnipeg in 2013, at age 14. 

“They have been via plenty of issues. I’ve heard terrible, terrible tales from battle, and these youngsters do not want any extra stress.”

The bilingual program presents “a softer approach to … get into Canadian society,” she mentioned.

Her group has been working an initiative known as Backpack 4 Hope, which goals to make sure younger individuals who have lately arrived from Ukraine get a backpack full of things similar to college provides, books, hygiene objects and a toy.

The group mentioned because the finish of April, greater than 700 youngsters age 5 to 17 had been registered for a backpack. 

Nevoit mentioned some youngsters who arrived within the spring weren’t able to enrol in class immediately, however she believes they are going to register for this college yr. 

She worries there could possibly be challenges for households, similar to having to attend for a college evaluation earlier than beginning courses or the English-Ukrainian bilingual program not with the ability to accommodate all of the households who select it. 

College expands bilingual program

In Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks College Division, work has been underway over the summer time to assist households new to Winnipeg prepare for the varsity yr. 

Jana McKee, who heads the division’s settlement service, mentioned a number of workers who communicate Ukrainian have been employed over the previous couple of months to work with households, whether or not meaning serving to them register for faculties or with help outdoors of faculty. 

“Our objective is to have college students be of their lecture rooms with their classmates and their instructor on Day 1,” mentioned Adam Hildebrandt, the principal of H.C. Avery Center College, one of many faculties within the Seven Oaks division that provides the English-Ukrainian program.

College students in this system have a Ukrainian language course 3 times every week. 

Adam Hildebrandt is the principal at H. C. Avery Center College in Winnipeg, certainly one of 11 Manitoba faculties that provides the English-Ukrainian bilingual program. (Tyson Koschik/ CBC)

Inside days of opening registration final week, eight college students who lately arrived from Ukraine had registered, Hildebrandt mentioned.

Registration numbers for the English-Ukrainian program at H.C. Avery are sometimes within the low- to mid-20s, however the college expects nearer to 40 this yr, he mentioned.

For the previous 5 years, this system has been taught by one of many college’s Ukrainian-speaking lecturers. This yr, there will likely be two lecturers.

At this level, H.C. Avery college students who’ve lately arrived in Manitoba will likely be in a homeroom classroom with a Ukrainian-speaking instructor, he mentioned. 

“I can not think about what it should be wish to undergo an expertise the place it’s important to transfer nations and transfer to a brand new college … underneath the circumstances of battle,” he mentioned.

A trident — an emblem which seems on Ukraine’s coat of arms — is seen in an H.C. Avery Center College classroom. The varsity is anticipating to see a big enhance within the variety of college students in its English-Ukrainian program this yr. (Tyson Koschik/ CBC)

The hope is that “if they’ll land in a college the place there is a language that is acquainted and there is a inhabitants of scholars that understands the tradition and has a robust affiliation with that tradition … it helps them really feel welcome,” he mentioned.

Help lecturers are able to work with college students on any educational or emotional challenges they may be dealing with, mentioned Hildebrandt.

At R.F. Morrison, the opposite college within the division that provides the bilingual program, principal Andrew Volk mentioned 18 college students who’ve lately arrived from Ukraine have been registered as of final Friday. That is along with 12 college students who attended the varsity on the finish of the final college yr, he mentioned. 

The varsity is working to help households in quite a few methods, together with further coaching to assist youngsters who’ve skilled trauma, Volk mentioned in an e-mail.

Yuliia Okhrimenko mentioned she’s glad Maksym will be capable to be taught in each English and Ukrainian in Winnipeg. Whereas she has a job and is getting settled in Winnipeg, it has been a troublesome transition. ‘I cried loads,’ she mentioned. (Jeff Stapleton/ CBC)

Yuliia Okhrimenko mentioned she’s glad that her son will get the chance to be taught in each English and Ukrainian when he begins college at Prince Edward, within the River East Transcona College Division.

She’s getting settled in Winnipeg, and is now working as a florist. But it surely’s been troublesome, she mentioned.

“I cried loads,” she mentioned. “I wanted to arrange my life. It was not really easy.”

For now, her plan is to remain in Canada along with her son, however she will’t assist however develop into emotional when requested about her husband. 

She’s undecided when they are going to be capable to see one another once more. So for now, they will rejoice the primary day of faculty by sharing pictures and cellphone calls.