Russian-speaking families forge new path in Canada

Russian-speaking families from Ukraine, Israel, and Russia engage with the Jewish community

Yulia Elgin is new to Ottawa. She is, in fact, new to Canada and she has a knack for connecting with people. On top of her role as interim Campaign Manager for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. She is also Federation’s newcomer ambassador for the Russian-speaking community, and she has been busy!

It is her passion to help others who speak Russian and have immigrated to integrate into the Ottawa Jewish community. She wants to help engage people with the Jewish world. She believes strongly that her mission is to make them feel supported, integrated, and welcomed. Yulia emphasizes that within our Ottawa Jewish community there are benefits to living a Jewish life as well as many resources available to help with job and house hunting. These resources come from the organized Jewish community through the Federation or Jewish Family Services (JFS), but they also come from networking within the Russian-speaking community. 

The events Yulia organizes target Russian-speaking newcomers regardless of country of origin. Yulia looks to encourage people to get involved and does not want to run events for this community but runs the events with the community. Recently there was a Mother’s Day event at Meadowbreeze Park in Kanata, and everyone pitched in!

“Most of us have no family locally and the people we meet become our family,” she says.

Approximately 20 families and over 70 people were in attendance. Most of the attendees are young families with small children, but there are couples with no children and single people. Everyone brought something for the potluck. People brought chairs. Local Russian-speaking small business owners donated gift certificates as raffle prizes, set up stations where kids could decorate marshmallows, moms could be pampered with beauty treatments, professional photos were taken of the event by a Russian-speaking photographer, and every mom received a rose from a local Russian speaking florist. The businesses were able to promote their services, lots of networking took place, and everyone had a great time. Through these events, everyone, Yulia included, is gaining friends, and social and professional networks.

In addition, the event was supported by private donors through Federation and PJ Library. 

One participant at the event had this to say:
“I wanted to give a special shout-out to Yulia, whose energy and enthusiasm helped to bring everyone together and make us feel like a part of the community. Thank you for organizing such a well-planned and fun-filled activity, complete with tons of surprises that delighted all family members. The Jewish Federation of Ottawa and PJ Library - you are the best.  It is impossible to underestimate your support in theOttawa Jewish community and making newcomers feeling at home and welcomed.

I just wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude for organizing such a wonderful Mother's Day breakfast. It was truly a special event, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it.”
-Olga S

Yulia was so inspired by this mission that she organized Women’s Relaxation night, which took place at the Soloway JCC on June 6. A Russian-speaking representative from Jewish Family Services was there to talk to attendees about how JFS can help with the resettlement process.

In the future, Yulia dreams of a job as a consultant for this group of people. “I want to work in a position where it doesn’t feel like work, but it’s just me living my life and helping people live their best life.” 

-Yulia Elgin is the interim Annual Campaign Manager at the Jewish Federation and a Russian-speaking Israeli. She can be reached at