Ukrainian refugee finds hope and new opportunity through Ottawa Mission program

CTV News

CTV News Dave Charbonneau Thursday, January 12th 2023

The Food Services Training Program at the Ottawa Mission is a free program that gives the most vulnerable a chance to turn their lives around.

The program is helping one Ukrainian refugee start a new life in a new country.

Tetiana Kitsynenko is a Ukrainian refugee who has just graduated from the Chef Ric's Food Services Training Program at the Ottawa Mission. 

"I came to Canada because we lost everything we have. My city of Mariupol was absolutely destroyed," Kitsynenko said.

Kitsynenko was forced to flee her home with her husband and child due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. She has found hope in Canada, where she was given the opportunity to start over. 

"I think it's amazing; a really amazing opportunity for people that are in trouble to start a new life," Kitsynenko said.

As an accountant back home, Kitsynenko was determined to make the most of her fresh start and quickly caught the attention of Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Executive Chef at the Ottawa Mission. 

"Tatiana has been amazing since the first day she got here," Allen-Watson said. "Sitting in my office and doing a one-on-one, just talking to her about why she wanted to take the program. She said, 'I've lost my house. I've lost my city. I've lost my country. I want to start over.'"

Under Chef Ric's guidance, Kitsynenko gained new skills and thrived in the training program. She is now set to graduate and begin working for the Ottawa Mission. 

"It's great to have her on board. It's great to see her success and it's even better that she's now going to graduate and be working for us at the Chef Ric's Food Services Training Program," said Peter Tilley, CEO of the Ottawa Mission.

For Kitsynenko, this is more than just a job. It is a new start. 

"It's like a new life. A new opportunity. A new Canadian opportunity," Kitsynenko said.