Ivan Pylypchuk was finally getting used to his new early-morning routine commuting to his job at a construction company, which the Ukrainian newcomer joined two days after moving to Canada with his wife and daughter.
He would wake up at 5 a.m. every day and head out at 6 a.m. But on the morning of April 13, less than two weeks after his arrival in Canada, things were different.
Pylypchuk had just bought a fresh cup of coffee from Tim Hortons, making the best of the 15-minute window between connecting buses to work.
As he waited at the stop in southeastern Edmonton, police say an unknown man approached Pylypchuk from behind and stabbed him. The attacker then fled the area on foot.
Pylypchuk dialed 911 and reported the attack seconds before he collapsed and lost consciousness.
“He didn’t even have a sip of his coffee when he was stabbed at the bus stop,” his wife, Yulia Pushkar, said in Ukrainian as a friend, Leonid Leshchinsky, interpreted.
Almost a week after the attack, Pushkar said her husband was feeling better.
“I’m very happy that he is alive and survived the attack,” she said.
It took a four-hour-long surgery and a few days in the intensive care unit for Pylypchuk’s health to stabilize. Pushkar said their eight-year-old daughter was scared to go meet her father in the hospital.
“She hugged him for the first time (on Tuesday),” she said. Pylypchuk was moved out intensive care on Monday, but remains in the hospital. His wife said doctors are not sure when he will be discharged.
Alberta Health says the family will not be asked to pay hefty hospital bills.
“Ukrainian evacuees are eligible for health insurance coverage in Alberta from the date of their arrival,” said press secretary Scott Johnston. This applies to all evacuees who haven’t applied for health coverage, but are in need of emergency or urgent care.
Pushkar said it would take somewhere between six months to a year for her husband to completely recover.
Even after Pylypchuk’s recovery, “he will most likely be limited to how much he can lift at his construction job, and will likely need another type of work,” Pushkar said.
The Edmonton-based construction company that Pylypchuk was working for hasn’t fired him, said Leshchinsky, who lives in Ottawa. “The company (acknowledges) it wasn’t Ivan’s fault (he got attacked).”
“They just came to Canada (and) he is the main source of income … (Pushkar) doesn’t have English,” said Leshchinsky.
Pylypchuk and his family moved to Canada via Sweden after their home in a town about 550 kilometres southeast of Kyiv was shelled and damaged. Pylypchuk was a manager at a local metallurgy company and had been helping friends who had been conscripted to fight for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion began in early 2022.
“There was some explosion near our home and it left some cracks. We couldn’t repair it. We had to leave,” Pushkar said.
She said the family was looking for a peaceful country and a better life.
“We were dreaming about Canada for a long time.”
But the random attack on Pylypchuk has scared Pushkar and their daughter, she said.
“I’m afraid that it can happen again.”
Edmonton police said they’re still investigating the attack, and a suspect is yet to be arrested.
Although they don’t have plans to leave Canada, Pushkar said they’re looking for a permanent rental accommodation in a safer neighbourhood as her husband continues to recover.
Leshchinsky, the only point of contact for Pylypchuk and his family in Canada, started a crowdfunding campaign that has raised almost $120,000 since Wednesday.
Last year, two Ukrainian newcomers were attacked in Winnipeg. One of them was stabbed in the neck while the other was bear sprayed. Two 19-year-old men were charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, while a 15-year-old boy was detained in a youth facility for the attacks.