‘They hear sirens every day’: Newborn and mother stuck in Ukraine as family flees to Manitoba

A Ukrainian family trying to flee the war-torn country has been separated, with part of the family now in Manitoba and a mother and her newborn stuck overseas.

It was a difficult decision for Nykola Kysliak to leave part of his family behind when escaping the Russian conflict in Ukraine.

He managed to come to Canada with his son and two daughters in August, hoping to settle them before school started, but had to leave his wife and newborn son to do so.

“The problem is that we are still waiting on approval for our younger son, but the document that allows my wife to cross the border and come to Canada expires next month,” explained Kysliak.

After escaping to Poland, Kysliak’s wife Nataliia gave birth to their son Jakub in May.

However, the family had to return to Ukraine in order to get paperwork for Jakub – and Nykola’s wife and son are still there.

“It is hard for them because they live 60 km from the Russian border, which is very dangerous for now, and they hear sirens every day, which is for sure not good for a young kid,” said Nykola.

The family’s hosts in Headingley, Man., Cathy and Ed Nieroda, have been trying to help the Kysliaks with the immigration process.

They said they call the immigration office every week, an ordeal they say is always long and difficult.

“As a Canadian, I have to say I am quite embarrassed by our Canadian immigration. I’ve never dealt with Canada immigration before, and it’s a nightmare,” said Cathy Nieroda.

In a statement to CTV News, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said it is trying to process applications as quickly as possible.

“We recognize that many Ukrainians are eager to get their visas and come to Canada and we are working around the clock to help Ukrainians and their families get to Canada as quickly and as safely as possible,” read the statement.

It said this is why the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel was created.

“This temporary program leverages our existing temporary resident visa processes, networks and infrastructure to bring Ukrainians and their families as quickly as we can. It streamlines current visa and travel requirements, eliminates most application and processing fees, and offers accelerated, prioritized processing.”

The CUAET provides Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality the opportunity to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, as of Sept. 4, more than 238,000 CUAET applications have been approved.

It said close to 83,000 Ukrainians (both CUAET and Canadian permanent residents of Ukrainian origin) arrived in Canada between Jan. 1 and Sept. 4, 2022

While there haven’t been any updates in the three months since the Kysliaks have submitted their application — they hold onto hope that the rest of their family can rejoin them soon.

“We are waiting for you. Jakub and mom, we are waiting for you,” said Artem Kysliak, Nykola’s 16-year-old son.

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