Watch Live: CityNews Weekend Winnipeg

Winnipeg bakery hires Ukrainian baker who fled war: ‘It’s the Canadian thing to do’

A former bakery owner in Ukraine has found a new bakery in Winnipeg to showcase her talents and passion for making desserts. Alex Karpa reports.

By Alex Karpa

A former bakery owner in Ukraine has found a new home in Winnipeg to showcase her talents and passion for making desserts.

Hanna Tokar, who is from the city of Kherson, in southern Ukraine, was forced to stop baking when the full-scale Russian invasion began last year.

Tokar eventually left Ukraine, arriving in Winnipeg last month with her boyfriend.

“My city was occupied from the first days,” she said. “To be honest, I was really scared to leave the house. That’s why I was in my room crying all the time and praying for good.”

After a lot of sleepless nights and uncertainty, she is now starting her life over in Manitoba as the head baker at The Butter Tart Lady.

Ukrainian baker Hanna Tokar, who now works at Winnipeg’s The Butter Tart Lady on Jan. 29, 2023. (Credit: CityNews/Alex Karpa)

Tokar ran her own bakery in Ukraine from her home, making anything from wedding cakes to macarons, or traditional Ukrainian desserts like pampushky, which are specialty doughnuts.

Tokar says she wants to apply everything she learned in Ukraine to the bakery she is now working at in Winnipeg.

“People like more sweet things, but if we add more salty things to just usual regular cakes, maybe it will be better, so I want to try something new and show people that,” she said.

Bakery owner Michelle Wierda found Tokar on Facebook. When she saw her work, she says she knew she had to meet her.

“I messaged her,” recounted Wierda. “Told her to send me her resume. She did. We did an interview, and the rest is history.

“I want to let her express her talent, her creativity and give her a good platform to work from.”

The Butter Tart Lady baker owner Michelle Wierda (left) with head baker Hanna Tokar on Jan. 29, 2023. (Credit: CityNews/Alex Karpa)

More than 11,500 Ukrainians have arrived in Manitoba since the start of the war. Wierda says it’s important to give work to those who were forced to leave everything behind.

“It’s the Canadian thing to do,” said Wierda. “If we were in that situation, we would want the same from our fellow brothers and sisters.”

Wierda says she wants to hire more Ukrainian refugees as busy season in the spring approaches.

Tokar says she is going to make the most of her new opportunity: “I’m really happy to meet her (Michelle) and to be here.”

yellow-frosted cupcakes

Cupcakes. (Credit: CityNews/Alex Karpa)

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today