WINNIPEG -- A Ukrainian refugee is excited to begin a new life in Manitoba after escaping the war in Ukraine with her family and reuniting with her sister in Winnipeg Sunday.

Iryna Redkina and her husband, two daughters, 17-month-old grandson, and two dogs were greeted at the Winnipeg airport by her sister Svitlana Maksymovych and husband Jan Chalmers, who sponsored the family’s escape from the city of Kherson in south Ukraine.

Maksymovych says it was a long and difficult journey, but worth it.

“We couldn’t sleep at night when [the fighting] started,” she told CTV News Winnipeg. “We started to support them right away.”

That support meant sending money overseas to help get the family out of the Russia/Ukraine warzone.

It took three attempts before they were able to escape.

The first time they were turned back because the fighting was too dangerous, while the second attempt saw them fall victim to an online scam.

Finally, on her daughter’s birthday of April 14, Redkina’s family escaped from Ukraine to Muldova, where they stayed in a hotel for 10 days. From there, they went to a small apartment in Romania where they’ve been waiting for the past few months for their Canadian visas to go through.

Redkina’s husband was not able to leave with his family, but was able to find another way out.

An emotional Maksymovych, translating for her sister, said they are relieved to finally be safe in Canada.

“I’m sure when we bring them home to our [Somerset, Man.) farm, and they hear peace and quiet, it will be like a fairy tale to them.”

Maksymovych says they will support the family while they learn English, find work, and a home of their own in Manitoba