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Couple disheartened after helping newcomers to Okanagan

‘We’ve had an unfortunate experience’
Kelowna International Airport sign. (Black Press file photo)

What started as a dream to help a Ukrainian couple and their four children escape the war against Russia, turned into a nightmare for a Kelowna family.

It was nearly a year ago when Corey Carthew and his wife Jessica agreed to help the family, who had already been approved to come to Canada through a federal government emergency program, by offering jobs and a place to live.

They initially contacted the Carthews inquiring about potential employment.

After discussing the matter, the Carthews offered the husband a job with Corey’s plumbing business and paid for the flights to bring the family to Kelowna.

“We felt compassionate, because of the kids more than anything, and they were coming anyway, so we’ll help them get off on the right foot,” Corey said.

The Carthews also tried to find employment for the man’s wife and rented them a home they owned at a reduced rate.

It wasn’t long after they arrived, Corey said, that the relationship soured. He said he eventually had to let the husband go due to, among other issues, a poor attitude.

“He criticized me, my profession and my company. He was taking pictures of my work, putting them online and claiming it as his own.”

Corey said he also agreed to hire the man, an experienced plumber, so that he could spend more time with his family.

“I’ve had less time to spend with my family because I’ve been dealing with this. It’s been hell.”

The Ukrainian family was only supposed to rent the home for two to three months until they got on their feet.

When they said they wanted to stay Corey told them he would need to increase the rent.

“I was going to raise the rent by $800 a month and I was going to give him $1,100 a month in living allowances through his job.”

Corey said the man told him he wouldn’t pay the increase and eventually refused to pay any rent or move out of the home.

In December 2022, a GoFundMe was started for the Ukrainian family that claimed the husband was let go from his job without cause and the family was being evicted for late rent payments, which Corey said wasn’t true.

It stated the family needed money to rent another home, and $22,000 was raised.

In January this year, the family was featured in a media story in which they said the landlord was raising their rent and they couldn’t afford to stay in the home.

However, Corey said because the family refused to pay rent or leave, he felt he had no choice but to begin an eviction process through the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB). That process started in December 2022 and the family left April 30.

After the RTB ruled in the Carthew’s favour, they tried to recoup $14,000 in unpaid rent through the courts.

Jessica attempted to serve the Ukrainian family with documents in June but said the husband swore at her repeatedly, slapped the papers out of her hand and pushed her.

“He destroyed the papers from the court,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate that when we have to do anything with this family it’s this type of stress.”

She said the incident was reported to police. RCMP confirmed to Capital News that a file was opened, resolved and then closed.

The courts recently ordered that the Carthews be paid back $1,000 a month to settle the outstanding rent balance.

However, Corey estimates he and Jessica have spent close to $40,000, including the unpaid rent, in trying to help the family.

“This is the world we live in. There are going to be people like that and there are good people too. We’ve had an unfortunate experience.”

Iryana Meyer, who assists displaced Ukrainians in Kelowna, knows the family. She said that she initially thought the Carthews were treating them badly.

But after getting to know the Carthews, and having discussions with the Ukrainian family, Meyer realized she wasn’t getting the whole truth.

“I think oh my God this Corey sounds like a crazy guy because that’s exactly what they tell me,” she said. “Again, when this situation happened, I understand they kind of lied.”

Capital News contacted the man who worked for Corey by phone and agreed to email questions to get his side of this story. The email was sent June 28.

After several other back-and-forth emails he declined to comment or provide his version of events as explained by the Carthews.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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