'We're in Canada': A family fleeing Ukraine arrives in southern Alberta

After nearly two months spent getting paperwork and plane tickets in order, a Ukrainian family fleeing Kyiv arrived in Coalhurst, Alta. late last week.

"Finally, we're in Canada after this long, hard time," Fadi said.

Mom Olena, dad Fadi, their two daughters Diana and Ameliia and two dogs have resettled in Coalhurst after fleeing their war-torn country.

Sherry Silvaggio, who is hosting the family, said they began talking through Facebook before agreeing to bring the family to southern Alberta. Silvaggio, along with her husband and two children, knew from the start that it was the right move.

"We were seeing what was going on in Ukraine, and we both said to my husband, 'if they ever open up the borders to Canada to them, would we take a family?' And, he said 'absolutely,'" Silvaggio said.

After a few challenges with airlines, including dog kennel sizes and luggage, the family arrived in Calgary on May 19. Silvaggio said when the family arrived at their home, emotions were high.

"It was a relief, we saw them pull up in the truck, and everyone got out, and it was like ah, they've made it, and we did it," she said.

After a 13-hour flight, including a layover in Toronto, Fadi said their thankful to finally be safe in Canada.

"It was hard, it was a challenge, but it's in the past. Now we feel good that we're here. We are with a great family, surrounded by great people, and that's the most important (thing)," Fadi said.

The family brought only what they could carry in suitcases, but that luggage was lost during plane transfers, so the community stepped up with donations.

"I reached out to the community, and I've met with hundreds of people that gave clothes, school supplies, make-up and everyday items," Silvaggio said.

"People have offered beds, money, food, a place to stay, so it's not just my family helping out, it's the whole community."

Despite only being in a new country for a few days, both Ameliia and Diana say it's been great.

"It's interesting to see people smiling and why they're smiling and why they wish you to have a good day. Everyone is very friendly," said Ameliia

Olena said she still thinks about family and friends back home in Ukraine.

"When I talk to my parents, I miss them so much because it's my life, it's my family, and I want them to be with me and to be with us and to be safe," she said.

The family said they wouldn't be here without the Silvaggio's help and encourage more individuals and families to open their homes to those fleeing the war.

"I hope that any person that can help and to never say no," said Fadi.

While getting settled into their new life, both families are asking the community for help in finding a permanent living situation for the family. A GoFundMe https://www.gofundme.com/f/flights-for-kiev-family page is set up for those looking to help or contact with the family.

"It's been an incredible experience, like I would not go back and not do it, it was beautiful," Silvaggio said.