A Ukrainian family fleeing Russia's war is greeted warmly in Ottawa
'I'd like to express my gratitude to everyone.
'Safety is the most important thing for us right now,' a teen says.
Anna Gugashashvili wiped away tears as she walked toward the house where she and her family will live for the time being.
"I just want to thank everyone," said the 18-year-old Ukrainian who arrived in Ottawa from Romania on Sunday.
"Right now, safety is the most important thing for us."
Gugashashvili arrived with her seven-year-old sister Tatiia, her mother Olena, and her father Levan, who is originally from Georgia and is thus exempt from military conscription in Ukraine.
I still can't believe it.
The adolescent is the only member of her family who can communicate in English.
On Sunday evening, dozens of Nepean residents gathered in the rain to welcome the Gugashashvili family to their temporary home.
Some held welcome signs, while others draped Ukrainian flags over their shoulders in solidarity.
"I can't believe it," Gugashashvili said.
"There are many people with generous hearts."
As the invasion grew more intense, the family fled.
The Gugashashvilis are from Odesa, a coastal city in Ukraine, where they own a bakery.
When the war broke out in late February, Gugashashvili said her family immediately began feeding troops.
"Every day, we cooked meals for 60 people," Gugashashvili explained.
"We made soups and mashed potatoes....
Because they must eat something."
According to her, the family was forced to flee on March 4 as the invasion intensified.
They crossed the border into Romania, leaving almost everything behind and only carrying one piece of luggage for the family of four.
"It was a nightmare," Gugashashvili recalled.
"I despise [those] who started this war in my country."
'I can't sit back and watch,' says a former Canadian soldier who has joined the fight in Ukraine.
After the discovery of civilian bodies, Zelensky accuses Russia of torture and 'genocide.'
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported last week that a month of fighting in Ukraine had resulted in 1,179 civilian deaths and 1,860 civilian injuries, with many more unaccounted for.
According to Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 10 million people have been displaced within or outside the country, with some suffering serious injuries.
Providing a safe haven
Gugashashvili and her family are now staying with Tammy Jeanveaux, who opened up her four-bedroom Nepean home after the invasion began and rallied the community to donate everything the family needs to start life in Canada.
"I felt like I had a lot to give," Jeanveaux explained.
She also stated that her late ex-partner, a former US military pilot, would have stepped up to help.
"I figured the best way to honour his memory was to do something," Jeanveaux explained.
"Either he would have opened his doors to them, or he would have been fighting over there."
The Nepean woman met the Gugashashvilis through a Facebook group that connects Ukrainians fleeing the conflict with Canadians willing to take them in.
Temporary 'homestays' in Canada may be a risky but necessary solution for Ukrainians fleeing conflict.
Ukrainians fleeing to Canada may be unable to access critical settlement services.
She knew it would be a good match as soon as she read about the Gugashashvili family.
Jeanveaux met them at the Montreal airport and drove them to Ottawa on Sunday afternoon.
Parents intend to work at a nearby bakery.
The Gugashashvilis are not the first Ukrainian family to flee Russia's war to settle in Ottawa.
An elderly couple from Kharkiv arrived in the capital earlier this month to reconnect with their daughter, who lives in Stittsville.
Gugashashvili said her mother and father received work visas on Sunday and plan to work at a local bakery.
According to her, her family chose to settle in Canada because of its educational system.
This fall, the 18-year-old plans to attend the University of Ottawa.