Pointe-à-Callière museum offers free tours for Ukrainian evacuees

“For Ukrainians, it’s a bit like finding a little piece of normality,” said tour guide Halyna Lykhoshva who has been hosting free museum tours to Ukrainian evacuees in their language to learn about Montreal’s history. Brittany Henriques reports.

A Montreal museum is offering free tours for Ukrainian evacuees in their native language.

Galyna Lykhoshva, a tour guide with the Pointe-à-Callière museum of history and archeology, felt it was her duty to help evacuees fleeing her home country by offering free tours for them to discover their new city.

“If we know each other, we will respect each other,” said Lykhoshva. “And we will support each other if we know each other’s history, each other’s culture.”

Lykhoshva, who still has family in Ukraine, says the ongoing Russian invasion has changed the lives of Ukrainians forever. She felt the need to do something – anything – to help her people.

That’s when she proposed the free museum tour project.

“Having Galyna do this for her people, it’s fantastic,” said Pierre Lalumière, the museum’s communications director.

“Here at the museum we like to show people what Montreal is all about, because Montreal is a fantastic city. And the fact that Galyna does this with her community, hopefully it sends the message to others that we’re available and open to all kinds of projects like this.”

Pointe-à-Callière museum tour guide Galyna Lykhoshva offering free tour for Ukrainian evacuees. (Credit: CityNews/Brittany Henriques)

The project has been going on for more than seven months, with over 800 Ukrainian evacuees attending the tours.

“For Ukrainians, it’s a bit like finding a little piece of normality, a little bit of normal life,” said Lykhoshva. “They feel very far from their family and their homeland, but life goes on.”

The response has been very positive from those taking part.

“I’m so thankful for Galyna for this opportunity to better understand Montreal because it’s so important to understand our history and our past so we can make our steps towards the future,” said one Ukrainian evacuee. “We’re about 15 friends here today that are learning and we will get to talk more about it.”

“We’re so thankful for this visit,” added another. “I’ve learned so much. I realize the history of Montreal is very similar to Ukraine’s history. I thank Canada for welcoming us with open arms.”

Even kids embraced the opportunity to learn about their new city.

“I’m so glad for the chance to be here and know more about this country, about this city,” a Ukrainian youth told CityNews. “And I’m so glad to know more about the history because our history is so important for our future.”

Lykhoshva says those are the types of comments that are often shared with her by those on the tour.

“A Ukrainian evacuee told me Canada, Quebec and Montrealers are welcoming us with open arms,” Lykhoshva recounted. “So it’s the least we can do, to learn their history, to know how this city works. So it’s really like a small expression of gratitude to the people of Montreal.

“One visitor told me that not only did the Russians steal our home, our husbands, but they also stole our everyday life, which was full of joy, full of trips to the museum, to the theatre, everywhere.”

There’s no end date to the project.

“It’s going to take as long as it takes,” said Lalumière.

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