Teen Mykyta is always on the move. Training at the rowing club at 5 a.m. Studying for school. Volunteering with Ukrainian Canadian Social Services, visiting CCI Ottawa, creating events such as prom night for Ukrainian students, helping run a summer camp.

When asked why he likes to be so busy, his simply responds, “Why not?”

Mykyta’s Canadian journey started when he and his family escaped the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They settled in Italy but life was not easy. He was there for six months.

Mykyta’s mother wrote a story about her son and posted it on Facebook. He wanted to move to Canada but needed support. Eventually he was able to move and landed in Buckingham, Que., in September of 2022.

His mother moved to Germany while his grandmother went back to Ukraine.

“For the first few months, I didn’t understand anything. I expected the same experience as I had had in Italy, which had been very depressing. I stayed home a lot and studied,” says Mykyta.

After a few months, he joined the Rowing Club, getting up early every morning to train at 5 a.m.

“I started to get an itch to be active like I had been in Ukraine.”

Mykyta held down several part-time jobs as a student. His work ethic comes from his mother.

“My mom was working so hard to give me a good life. I understood the sacrifice. When I got my first bank account, I thought, I should do something for my family.”

In the New Year, he moved to Ottawa. “I wanted to work part-time and that’s when I connected with CCI Settlement Counsellor Michael. He and Olha, (then a member of the Housing Team who helped Ukrainians), helped me move to Ottawa.

“They are amazing. They gave me a chance to get active.”

Now he lives in Westboro. By being a little more central, “I can organize events, go to school and train.”

He earned his high school diploma in January and has now started the process of becoming a permanent resident.

But that itch to stay active led him to other projects.

So he organized a graduation and prom for Ukrainian high school students. There were 33 young people, including some of their parents. As diplomas were handed out, a photographer captured the moment.

“The prom is the last day when you can celebrate all that time and energy you devoted to school. People dressed up. We took photos down by the river. Lots of fun. We did it all without sponsors. Some parents were there and we had a big dinner. Lots of dancing. The dinner was followed by a party followed by a sunrise event.”

He still stays in touch with his best friends and rowing club back home and is still part of the Ukraine national rowing team.

As he speaks, his love of rowing is obvious. “I like the team. It’s not a workout. It’s spending time with my friends.”

He also hasn’t forgot his commitment to his family.

“For the last year, I’ve been trying to show my face, show what I can offer. The most important thing is to support my family. To do that I need to create a platform for myself.

“I want to stay here. I’ve made a new life for myself. I don’t want to start over somewhere else.”