That’s how it often is for the first lessonsays Mylène, francization teacher at the Accore adult education center in Châteauguay, who immediately starts the presentations.
Welcome to the classroom!
The class is taught exclusively in French, which most students do not understand. Doesn’t matter, they’ll have to learn. They are here for eight weeks from Monday to Friday.
Everything goes through the language, explains Nicoleta Caraulan, coordinator at the Roussillon Immigration Reception and Training Service (SAFIR), which registered the new students. In fact, with her team, she makes sure that almost all of their needs are met.
If I don’t know the language, she insists, it will be impossible or very difficult to integrate into this society.
Fluency in French will indeed be an asset for those looking to find a job. The Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet, indicates that 522 companies on the Emploi Québec site have expressed a desire to employ Ukrainian nationals.
He thinks there is a lot of empathy. We know the Ukrainian environment, the shocks caused by the war, by the Russian invasion, and there is a desire to help.
A new family
Among the group, Olha Kozlovzka and her 27-year-old daughter, Anastasiia Edelman, arrived from Ukraine just 12 days ago. Both women left Kiev on the third day of the war. They stayed in western Ukraine for almost a week before crossing the Polish border on foot.
: \”Est-ce qu’on va survivre?\””,”text”:”On a marché toute la nuit, il faisait froid, raconte Anastasiia. On se regardait ma mère et moi en se disant: \”Est-ce qu’on va survivre?\””}}”>We walked all night, it was cold, Anastasiia says. We looked at my mom and I and said, “Are we going to survive?”
Our story is not tragic, she adds. Some went on the subway for weeks without food. We were told neighbors who stayed were injured or worse.
We’re finally okay, after two months of stress, Olha says. I am grateful to everyone who helps us.
When they leave the classroom, Normand Thérien and Anne-Marie Langelier are waiting for them to take them home. This retired couple lives in Léry, west of Montreal. They chose to welcome the two Ukrainians into their home.
It’s going very wellexplains Norman.
They are, Anne-Marie adds, before taking a break, their throats choked with emotion, they are exceptional.
They remodeled the rooms that once belonged to their children to accommodate their new roommates.
The first day, Anastasiia, I forced her to go to bed because she already wanted me to look at her resume, confides Anne-Marie. The youngest worked in video production, while her mother, Olha, was until now a professor of philology at the university.
I am confident that the two will find a job that suits their skills.adds Anne-Marie.
Finding a bit of normality
A few miles away, at Natalie Socqué’s dental clinic, a newcomer has just joined the team. Less than a month after her arrival, Victoriia Gabal has already found a job as a dental hygienist.
ans en Ukraine, raconte-t-elle. Je traitais même des patients à Kiev quand mon mari m’a appelé, le 23février.”,”text”:”J’étais dentiste depuis 15ans en Ukraine, raconte-t-elle. Je traitais même des patients à Kiev quand mon mari m’a appelé, le 23février.”}}”>I had been a dentist in Ukraine for 15 years, she says. I was even treating patients in Kiev when my husband called me on February 23.
He wanted to leave the day before the first bombings. The couple set out with their two children, four-year-old twins. Victoriaia ultimately never returned home.
And she doesn’t plan to do that anytime soon.
To be honest, in my heart my country is Ukraine, she explains red-eyed. But we know we have a crazy neighbor. I don’t think it’s possible to go back there.
The family is also hosted by a couple from Quebec.
It’s like they’re already part of the family, says Barbara Page. She and her husband Wayne sleep in the basement to give them space.
While Victoriia works, the twins go to daycare and her husband, Maksym, takes francization classes every day of the week, in the same class as Anastasiia and Olha.
Starting over isn’t easy, but with a little help they’ll get there.