Store helping Ukrainian refugees resettle in Halifax to close end of March

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The Ukrainian Store in Halifax, which many refugees have relied on since coming to Canada, is closing its doors, leaving many volunteers worried about what it will mean for the community.

Olga Malyk and her family left everything behind in Ukraine. She says the store helped them start their lives over in Nova Scotia.

“When I come in first time, I take what I need. [They said] it’s free and I didn’t understand why I can take all the stuff for free,” said Malyk.

But after March, Ukrainian refugees like her won’t have the store to go to.

Owners of the property have been providing this space for free. Founder of the Ukrainian Store Rick Langille says he knew it was a temporary space but losing it is still disappointing.

“The owners that have been so gracious to donate this space to us to help families from Ukraine, have found a new tenant, a paying tenant, ” said Langille.

The store started as a distribution center. It’s since grown and become a community space for Ukrainian refugees to get together. “This store is my second home. Not just for me but for all the people,” said Malyk.

Volunteer Natalia Ivchenko said losing this space is a loss for the Ukrainian community.

“They can find everything they want and save a lot of money on the one hand. On the other hand, they can meet people that have the same problems and ask them how they can solve it,” she said.

Langille says the store’s closure comes as more people are about to need it. “The volunteers have told me that the number of families coming from the war is actually on the increase.”

Families and volunteers say they’re disappointed to lose this space.

“Coming here we don’t have friends, we don’t have family,” said volunteer Alla Subbotim. “We left everything in Ukraine. It’s just us. But now we find new friends and have people around us that have gone through [the] same thing.”

As the store winds down, Langille hopes someone might have another space in Halifax where it could set up.

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