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Young Ukrainian hockey players finally get their day in a Quebec classroom

It's been a long wait, but six Ukrainian students who arrived in Quebec City to start school last month are finally in a classroom.

The teenagers have been waiting for the education ministry to issue their eligibility certificates so they can study in English as they requested.

On Friday, the wait was over. The six boys arrived at Saint-Patrick's High School smiling widely at their classmates who were eager to meet them.

The students' Canadian sponsor, Sean Berube, the boys' billet families and the school say everyone worked very hard to ensure the students could take their place in class and it's time to celebrate.

One player, Maksym Shtepa said he is glad to be settled now.

"I am really happy that we are starting school and we met a lot of people. It's how we wanted – here is like a big difference between schools in Ukraine and here," he said.

Saint-Patrick's principal, Julien Duchamp said the entire school and community is thrilled to have the group there.

"We’re very excited to meet them today and I think it’s going to be a special occasion to celebrate diversity in the community, and within the school and we look forward to integrating them fully into our day-to-day life at Saint-Patrick's High School," said Duchamp.

For their billet, Olivier Hubert-Benoit, seeing the boys with other kids and at a real in-person school, is a relief.

"I'm really happy that the project became a reality, to see the boys finally really blossom in a nice school program like this, I'm really pleased," he said.

One of the big draws of Saint-Patrick's is that the English school has a hockey program.

The six boys were a part of the Ukrainian Peewee team that played in the Quebec City hockey tournament in February, after which some of the players asked to stay in Quebec.

Though they had to return to Ukraine because of their visas, Berube said he made it his mission to help them return to Quebec City.

"I feel great, I feel relief, it's a great day today," Berube said outside the school where everyone had gathered to talk.

"Everybody worked together to get this done as quickly as possible," he added.

It's been quite a whirlwind week for the young hockey players. They also got the opportunity to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and present him with a jersey.

Shtepa said he had a dream about Zelensky the day before the meeting.

"It was really cool," he said, describing his encounter with the president, "and I'm still proud of it."

"There is a picture in our classroom of me and Zelensky and Mr. Trudeau. That's cool," he said. Top Stories

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