More Toronto homes needed to host Ukrainian families fleeing war

By Gurleen Kaur Buttar

Courtesy of The New York Times

Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada have been welcomed into the homes of many Canadian families in hopes of starting a new life here.

Alexandra Botyuk, a Toronto real estate agent, is among them. Only a week ago, Olena Dnistrianska and Botyuk were strangers. “The two of us didn’t know each other until three days before she arrived,” Botyuk said.

Alexandra Botyuk

“Many Ukrainians are stepping in to take in people who have nowhere else to go and live with them for a short time. Or to try to find some accommodation.”

Until they can move into a more permanent place, Olena and her son Oleksii, 14, are staying in Botyuk’s condo.

According to Botyuk, many Ukrainians coming to Canada are concerned about their security because they don’t know the family hosting them.

The Canadian government has approved more than 56,000 applications for its new Canada-Ukraine emergency travel permit to allow Ukrainians to enter the country quickly.

Toronto and the GTA area are experiencing a tight real estate market when searching for accommodations for Ukrainian families. As a realtor, Botyuk says it isn’t just challenging to find a family to host them but also challenging to help them find employment so they can be financially independent.

Most Ukrainians coming to Canada opt to move to Etobicoke and East Mississauga due to the large Ukrainian population in these areas.

Botyuk is part of a growing network helping Russian refugees flee their homelands.

So far, she has taken her new guests to the CN Tower, gone shopping at a grocery store, and brought them to meet other Ukrainians in a similar situation.

Dnistrianska, whose primary aim is to one day return home, is haunted by disturbing images of devastation in her country in her new surroundings.

More host families are needed in Toronto. To get involved, contact Ukrainian Canadian Social Services at or contact Alexandra Botyuk at (647) 271-4402 /


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