Second reward brings Saskatoon refugee nearer to Ukraine

A Ukrainian refugee who received a gifted accordion to allay his homesickness in September now has his native instrument, a bayan, thanks to a CTV News Saskatoon viewer.

In that story last month, 16-year-old Mychailo Osadtsiv was thrilled to be given a donated accordion from the newcomer store, Baba’s closet. He learned to play it despite having only played on the Ukrainian instrument called a bayan.

“I saw the CTV story about Mychailo and knew I had a unique opportunity to help out,” Matt Gruza told CTV News.

“I have a bayan in my basement which I unfortunately don’t know how to play and I bought with the best of intentions of learning,” he says.

Learning the complexities of the bayan is now possible with this new musical friendship.

“I can tell you I have never heard this instrument make this sound before. It’s truly an honor to have him play it,” he said.

It looks like an accordion but upon closer examination, it’s missing the usual piano type keys on the right side. It has a series of buttons instead.

It’s a rare find here in Canada according to Gruza, a local musician who plays in a few different Ukrainian bands across Canada.

His extensive talent and expertise are not lost on Osadtsiv, who plays four instruments including a violin.

“When I saw this man for the first time it was crazy because this man is really talented,” Osadtsiv said.

The grade 12 student fled the war with his mom and grandparents, and now lives at his aunt’s house in Saskatoon.

He left his dad behind in Ukraine, as well as a close friend. Osadtsiv says he worries about them every day.

“They’re staying in their homes and waiting for something to happen. It’s actually a really bad situation in our country.”

With his connections in the Ukrainian music scene Gruza is hopeful to help the talented teen with opportunities to play.

“This is one unique way that I can help someone. A tangible thing here and it’s really nice to have that connection,” Gruza said.

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