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From Newcomer to Homeless in Less Than 2 Months


Vasyl arrived in Canada from Poland at the end of March and stayed for 2 weeks at a hotel for free, as part of the program for Ukrainian newcomers, where some people are given free accommodations for a short time. Then he found a room somewhere at $700/mo, but it was only available for a month, then he stayed with a friend for 2 weeks. 

He desperately looked for a job, even paid 300 Euros to an agency Flagma that promised him that he’d get a contract with an employer soon. He said that the agency provided him only with the publicly available job postings, then they stopped communicating with him altogether. He heard that other people paid 250 Euros and also got nothing useful from that agency.  



Back in Ukraine Vasyl worked as a shoe maker and as a welder, for both of these jobs he actually has college diplomas. He said that he was also a professional soccer player and a musician before. Later he worked as a factory worker in Poland. He was in Poland when there was started, that’s why he was able to come to Canada. Most men can’t leave Ukraine, as they are all drafted for the army.


After 2 months without a job and a place to stay, Vasyl put a tent in a wooden area in Richmond Hill, where he is currently residing. 


I came to Richmond Hill to talk to Vasyl to see how we could help. I brought him some food too, thinking he probably can’t keep much food near the tent, as it could attract animals. Plus, things would spoil fast without the fridge.



He showed me a video of his tent and a makeshift table. He also built a little deck near the creek where he takes bath every day in a freezing water. 

Surprisingly, Vasyl is pretty optimistic about his future. He thinks he can survive like this probably until the fall, unless he finds a job before that. He is talking about buying a scooter or electric bike and doing Uber deliveries, which would be a new experience for him. 


I really hope he wouldn’t have to camp in the woods for that long. It’s not that safe. It feels wrong that he came to Canada looking for a safer place and a better life and ended up in a worse situation that he was in before.

Update from June 2, 2023


Thanks to a group of volunteers from the Waterloo region, Vasyl now lives with a host family on a farm. 

Vlad, that picked up Vasyl from the ravine in Richmond Hill, shared with me this photo. It’s good to see Vasyl smiling.  

Vasyl said that he was happy to leave his tent. It was getting harder and harder to stay in the woods, as there were a lot of mosquitos, raccoons, foxes and other wild animals.


Vasyl shared a few videos from the farm on his FB where he sounds pretty happy. and

I am glad that good people came together and helped him to find a safe place.





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