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Canada Day in Burlington welcomes Ukrainian refugees

Canada Day in Burlington welcomes Ukrainian refugees

Dentist Andrey Davydenko didn’t exactly take the express route when he fled the area of Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine.

While most refugees took a train west across the entire country to the Polish border, Davydenko made his exit in a strange way.

Heading south to Crimea, which actually is Russian territory, he crossed the 11-mile long Kerch Strait Bridge into Russia, headed east to Georgia, then around the Black Sea to Turkey, west to Bulgaria and Romania, then Germany and finally Portugal before flying to Canada.

And he did it by hitchking most of the way.

Without the proper papers to work as a dentist in Canada yet, he has a temporary job as a welder.

Davydenko is one of several refugees treated to a Canada Day Meet and Greet luncheon at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Church in Burlington. Another was Mia Aivorji, who was born in Ukraine, but had been working in Nigeria when the Russia-Ukraine war broke out in February.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Burlington MP Karina Gould and Burlington MPP Natalie Pierre all spoke at the gathering, stressing how lucky we all are to live in Canada. Meed Ward was born in the U.S. and Gould is the granddaughter of German immigrants.

Imam Ayan, operator of Panago Pizza and himself a refugee from Afghanistan, supplied some of his products for the event.

Later at Spencer Smith Park the Burlington Teen Tour Band did its traditional Canada Day march along the waterfront. Sweltering in the heat, band members were allowed to discard their hats and jackets while standing for the speeches.

The mayor made a special presentation to the band on the occasion of its 75th anniversary.  It was formed as the Burlington Boys and Girls Band in 1947.

Story and photos By DENIS GIBBONS

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