Serge Fenyuk left his home in Chernivtsi, Ukraine in 1999 as part of an international students program through the school system in Saskatoon. Living with a host family, Fenyuk spent the rest of his teen years studying at a Canadian high school.
Fenyuk considers himself a “hybrid immigrant” rather than a newcomer after 25 years living in Canada. The hardest part about moving to a new country at 15 years old was the process of assimilating to the country’s culture and society, including conversational language.
“Canadian and American English have a style of communication that’s indirect. Whereas in Eastern Europe, it’s a lot more straightforward,” Fenyuk says. “If I think that something is stupid, I’m gonna say it’s stupid.”
Fenyuk says he came to Canada when the country’s acceptance rate of immigrants was much smaller. The journey to permanent residency took more than eight years after completing his education and a year of work experience.
He is happy to see that there are now new programs that simplify the process for newcomers.
“Someone can work for a year and speak a bit of English and apply for PR, specifically for Ukrainians fleeing the war, which is very generous,” Fenyuk says. “It’s a great opportunity for them.”
Like many others that now call Canada home, there are still things that Fenyuk misses about his motherland, including his family, the nature and environment, and most important, the food.
Certain foods he grew up with like blood sausage and meat jello are hard to find in Calgary. Alberta’s large Ukrainian community means there are numerous restaurants featuring the country’s cuisine, but Fenyuk says they’re more adapted to Canadian tastes.
“It’s not exactly Ukrainian food from Ukraine, you know?” he says.
Each year, thousands of people from around the world move to Calgary to make a new life. Our partnership with CLIP explores what it means to be a newcomer in our city and how that experience is different for everyone.
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