This 67-year-old Ukrainian widow journeyed by bus, train, foot and plane to find safety in her new home: Winnipeg

Left: Valentyna Agapova sleeping on the floor of a warehouse near the Polish border. Right: Agapova after arriving in Winnipeg. (Supplied photos)

Valentyna Agapova hid in a bomb shelter for four days before making her escape. The 67-year-old hairdresser and widow, trapped in Ukraine after Russia invaded, subsequently went on a 1,000-kilometre trek by bus, train and foot to reach the Polish border from her apartment in the Zaporizhzhia area. She didn’t live far from Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, which came under attack early in the war.

Her ultimate destination was Winnipeg, where her son lives with his wife and children. They immigrated to Canada in 2017 as part of a Federation program called GrowWinnipeg, which has been bringing Jewish families to the city for more than 25 years. Now, with the help of a federal program that fast-tracks Ukrainian immigrants to stay in Canada for up to three years, Agapova is hopeful that she won’t have to return to her war-torn country ever again, while she works on setting down roots in her new home.

Agapova, her daughter-in-law and a translator join to help share Agapova’s remarkable story of survival and escape that finally brought her to Winnipeg just two weeks ago.

What we talked about:

  • Read about Cantor Zelermyer’s first time singing the national anthem at the Bell Centre in 2010 at
  • Read about the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s welcome to new immigrants on their Facebook page


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.