This is the first of a series highlighting Ukrainian contributions to Canada’s agriculture sector.
Comment: Polled Holsteins finally get their day
On June 3, 1987, an average heifer was born on my family’s dairy farm and named Melamar Astro Jet Wendy….
Daryna Putintseva is a Ukrainian digital marketing specialist working for Canadian communications agency WS.
Now living in Calgary, she develops media, news content and marketing strategies for a range of clients in both primary agriculture and the food and beverage industry, such as FCL and Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers program.
Putintseva came to the agriculture sector after working in a variety of other fields, including hospitality and education technologies. While she enjoys the field, there were initial challenges.
“My background in Ukraine was very general. Understanding agriculture equipment was a big barrier for me. Attending events this year (has) really helped,” she says, noting the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists conference, and Ag In Motion, are two particularly interesting events.
“Agriculture is an industry I like to say has soul, because data and information actually serves a purpose. It’s very direct. It’s feeding the population… Agriculture is an incredible sector, and it’s also a necessity. It’s our job to show it in the best light as marketers.”
Putintseva has friends and family in Ukraine and misses her native Kharkiv, a northeastern city that continues to be targeted by Russian artillery and missiles. She, her husband, and now five-year-old daughter have not seen home since Feb. 29, 2022.
Their journey to Canada started with a 40-hour train ride to western Ukraine, then a car ride to the Polish border.
“We didn’t have any food. All the stores were closed because of the full-scale invasion. We found a private guy to drive us and crossed the border by foot, which was another 12 hours. Then we met a volunteer driver who took us to Krakow.
“We paid for everything because we didn’t want to take away from those who needed the free [transportation] programs,” she says.
From there the family flew to Jordan, her husband’s home country, and then to Canada after securing visas offered by the federal government for Ukrainian refugees.
Putintseva has lost several friends and family to the war, including her childhood best friend who was killed during the battle Bakhmut, an eastern Ukrainian city once famous for sparkling wine and now infamous for intense fighting, death and destruction.
She’s lost others, too, albeit in a different way.
“Kharkiv is right on the border. It’s not uncommon for people there to have Russian DNA. I have family living in Russia too, but no longer have contact with them… The war revealed to us why it was time to really draw that border.”
It has been heartening for Putintseva to see so much support for Ukrainians in Canada.
However, it’s not uncommon for her to hear people question why Canada is spending money and resources on Ukraine when domestic problems remain unsolved.
She hopes more people will realize that what happens in Ukraine, and other parts of the world, does affect Canadians’ lives.
“Sometimes we don’t see further than our nose. The food inflation we see in Canada right now is a big part of the war,” she says.
Like so many Ukrainians living abroad, Putintseva tries to support her home country by raising awareness about the war and donating money to grassroots organizations that support civilians and soldiers on the frontline. She encourages others to do their homework, find legitimate and effective organizations, and do the same.
“It’s incredible how Ukrainians donate… We collectively as a nation bought four Bayraktar [combat drones] in 48 hours. We can unite like crazy when we know we have to.”
If you or someone you know is interested in contributing to this series, please contact Matt McIntosh at [email protected].