Tetiana Kitsynenko was forced from her home in Ukraine following the start of the Russian invasion in February, 2022. She left behind family, friends, her worldly belongings and a career as an accountant.
"I had an apartment, I had a job. I had a beautiful life in my own city, in my own country, and I just lost it in a moment. All that they have, just lost it," said Kitsynenko on The Sam Laprade Show.
After fleeing the occupied city Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, Kitsynenko came with her husband and child to Canada to build a new life.
Not knowing anything about her new home country or what opportunities were available to her, Kitsynenko said she learned of a program provided by the Ottawa Mission training society's most vulnerable in the art of food service.
The Food Services Training program is a full-time four month job training programming giving participants the necessary skills to work in a commercial kitchen.
"They learn all the principles that are taught in many of the collegiate institutions on culinary art.," said Ottawa Missions chief executive officer Peter Tilley on The Sam Laprade Show. "And 11 out of 12 of them are now graduating into jobs."
For Kitsynenko, despite the change in career path, training as a cook was just the opportunity she needed to start her new life in Canada.
And she took full advantage of the opportunity, graduating the program on Jan. 12 as one of the valedictorians.
"I am grateful for these opportunities, for these abilities, for a chance to start a new life," said Kitsynenko. "I'm really grateful for all Canadians. Thank you so much for all that you're doing for us for Ukrainians and for this perfect opportunity to come to Canada. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Listen to the entire interview with Tetiana Kitsynenko on The Sam Laprade Show below.
Listen to the entire interview with Peter Tilley on The Sam Laprade Show below.