A story of kindness and belonging, ‘A Nest in the North’ celebrates the core Canadian value of kindness
By Rohan Stritch
‘A Nest in the North’ is a unique story book produced by Tim Hortons in partnership with the Ukrainian illustrator, Veronika Kotyk. The children’s story describes an experience of forced displacement from the perspective of a goose traversing lands and searching for a safe place to call home.
In support of displaced people around the world, 100% of proceeds from the sale of this story book goes towards UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Get your copy today!
At UNHCR Canada, we wanted to learn more about the artist behind this special creation and how her personal experiences as a newcomer to Canada informed her work. Expertly combining both education and entertainment, we asked Veronika a few questions.
Can you tell us about your work as an illustrator and how you became involved in this project?
I’ve worked as a children’s book illustrator for about six years. What I love about this job is that it brings positive emotions to me and is usually a joy to readers.
I got involved with this project through chance. I fled from the war with my family and had been drawing only dark images those days. I was in Winnipeg presenting an exhibition featuring these works when I heard that a children’s book illustrator was wanted. It was an opportunity to get back to something I love and for a fresh start. Working on this project allowed me to bring some light back into my life and art.
What has it been like for you coming to Canada? How has your experience been so far?
Coming to Canada has been a mix of emotions for me. At first, it was overwhelming as everything was new and it was such a long distance from my home. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness and hospitality of the Canadian people. (To be completely honest, I even was a bit shocked by Canadian openness and sympathy to the complete stranger that I was). The people I met here made my transition easier and helped me to adapt to my new surroundings. I see people from diverse backgrounds with different traditions and it’s inspiring to see them coexisting peacefully here. Overall, my experience has been a positive one so far.
Before leaving Ukraine, I worked as a children’s book illustrator, primarily creating educational and emotionally engaging illustrations for kids. However, when the war broke out, my work shifted to creating illustrations for volunteering campaigns and designing posters on what to do in case of bombing or finding suspicious objects.
‘The Nest in The North’ is a particularly meaningful project for me, as it’s the first one related to my beloved profession since the start of the war.
What did you want to express in the illustration of this story? How do you hope it will connect with Canadians?
In ‘The Nest in the North’ I wanted to illustrate my personal experience of coming to Canada, which I believe is similar to many others. I hope it will connect with Canadians by giving them a glimpse into the challenges, obstacles, and emotions that refugees may face. I also think it will give a deeper understanding of people who have had to leave their homes and start anew in a foreign land.
When did you first learn about Tim Hortons and what does it mean to you to partner with this Canadian icon?
I first learned about Tim Hortons when I arrived in Canada and saw people carrying their red cups everywhere. Despite not knowing what was in the cups, the sight of them made a strong impression on me and I made a mental note to try them. Now, as I have the opportunity to create this book with Tims, I feel deeply honored and thrilled to be partnering with such a beloved and authentic Canadian brand.
Proceeds from the sale of this storybook are being donated to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. How do you think this will help Ukrainian people in need, and what can the Canadian public do to support?
The donation of proceeds from this picture book will hopefully bring much-needed resources to Ukrainian people in need as well as EVERY refugee who needs help. From my experience, every little bit helps and all support matters. Whether it’s financial aid, providing necessities such as food, toiletries and shelter or even a listening ear – it all matters. The war in Ukraine is far from over, and those affected by it are constantly fighting for their families and their lives. I believe that the support of the Canadian public is crucial in helping Ukrainian refugees. Whether it’s through financial contributions, volunteering, or spreading awareness, every action can make a difference and it shows the Ukrainian community that they are not alone.
Thank you, Veronika, for sharing your experiences with us and for creating your beautiful artwork. We invite Canadians to join us in celebrating this special storybook, and at the same time supporting UNHCR’s work to protect and assist refugees, internally displaced people, and stateless communities around the world. Visit the link to support today!
About Veronika Kotyk
Veronika Kotyk is a Ukrainian illustrator and designer based in Vancouver, BC, driven by her passion for creating captivating visual narratives. With a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, she has honed her skills to bring stories to life through illustration and design. Veronika’s diverse portfolio reflects her versatility, ranging from children’s books and animated series to greeting cards, bolt fabric, and exclusive carpets. Her work has been recognized by several industry awards, including the StartAward contest for ‘The Jungle Book’ in 2017 and a gold medal for ‘Santa’s Shooting Star’ Christmas novel at Mom’s Choice the same year. Veronika has a wide range of clients and is excited to continue exploring new creative avenues as she strives to create impactful, memorable visuals.
For more information on Veronika Kotyk visit kotyk.art | For inquiries please contact email@example.com
About Tim Hortons
In 1964, the first Tim Hortons® restaurant in Hamilton, Ontario opened its doors and Canadians have been ordering Tim Hortons iconic Original Blend coffee, Double-Double™ coffees, Donuts and Timbits® in the years since. Over the last 55 years, Tim Hortons has captured the hearts and taste buds of Canadians and has become synonymous with serving Canada’s favourite coffee. Tim Hortons is Canada’s largest restaurant chain operating in the quick service industry with nearly 4,000 restaurants across the country. More than a coffee and bake shop, Tim Hortons is part of the Canadian fabric and guests can enjoy hot and cold specialty beverages – including lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, teas and our famous Iced Capp® – alongside delicious breakfast, sandwiches, wraps, soups and more. Tim Hortons has more than 5,400 restaurants in Canada, the United States and around the world.
For more information on Tim Hortons visit TimHortons.ca | For inquiries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
About UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Established in 1950, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people.
For more information on UNHCR please visit unhcr.ca | For inquiries please contact: email@example.com