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Pavel Slinkov-Albul's life journey has taken him from the breathtaking shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia to the stunning Pacific coast of British Columbia. Born and raised in Irkutsk, Siberia, Pavel's childhood was marked by the beauty of Lake Baikal, which holds one-fifth of all freshwater on the planet and is home to unique endemic species. Despite the natural wonder surrounding him, Pavel feels no particular connection to his hometown except for the nostalgic memories of the lake's waves, which look more like a sea.

Pavel's mother was a loving and beautiful person who shaped him and laid the foundations of love, respect, understanding, and other virtues. Unfortunately, his father's rigid and willful nature marred his childhood with psychological and physical abuse. This led Pavel to wrestle for independence and the right to be free as he grew up. Overcoming his childhood traumas was a long and complex journey, but he ultimately built a beautiful family with his wife and son, where love, respect, and acceptance reign supreme. 

Pavel's life story reflects broader issues in Soviet and Russian families, where the chain of violence was passed down from generation to generation. In Pavel's view, this habit of disrespect and unlove played a significant role in the development of tyranny in his country, leading to generations of people with deformed values. He believes that the task for many Russians, both those who have left and those who remain, is first to overcome the darkness within themselves and allow the Light to take hold.

Pavel's life journey shows that healing from past traumas is never easy, but it is possible with love, hope, and perseverance. 


Pavel, a man of accomplishments, has kept a small fawn figurine since childhood. It holds a special place in his heart, as he spent his childhood in an environment of abuse and scandal. The little reindeer figurine projected his tender relationship with his mother, which he deeply identified with. Unbeknownst to Pavel, this toy became a symbol of hope, love, and peace in his life. 

Pavel's grandmother's house was a haven for him, where he first encountered these toys. In contrast to his turbulent home life, marked by destructive environments, his grandmother's home provided a sanctuary of solace and comfort for him. It was a place where he could experience love and peace, starkly contrasting his tumultuous upbringing. 

Today, Pavel's fawn figurine sits on his desk, reminding him of his inner tenderness and need for assuring comfort. Despite all his accomplishments and achievements, Pavel knows that his heart is tender and has deep vulnerabilities. Sometimes, he wishes to snuggle up to a dear creature, like a little foal or a fawn. 

Unfortunately, Pavel's grandmother passed away a few years ago, and his mother is in Russia. He is still determining whether he will ever see his mother again, as it is dangerous for him to travel to Russia, and she cannot afford to come to Canada. However, the little fawn figurine serves as a reminder of Pavel's little world of love and peace, reminding him of who he was and his journey. 


Pavel, a talented lawyer in Russia, and Olesia, a bank employee in Russia, found love in an unlikely place - their workplace. Despite the initial attraction, their paths almost diverged, but fate had other plans for them, and they reunited in September 2012. Since then, they have shared a life full of love, mutual respect, and admiration for each other. 

Pavel admired Olesia's exceptional beauty and grace from the outset. Her moral compass inspired him to live an honest and integrated life, and her naturalness and authenticity motivated him to achieve new heights in his career. Pavel sees Olesia as his rock, guiding him through life’s ups and downs. He delights in writing poems for her; together, they navigate life's terrain with shared values and dreams. 

Pavel holds deep admiration for Olesia's exceptional qualities of perceptivity, strength, and wisdom. He attributes these qualities to her innate sensitivity and tenderness, which imbue her with an unparalleled ability to connect with people and understand their 

perspectives. Pavel deeply values Olesia's honesty and integrity, a rare gift in today's world, where people often embellish the truth. In Pavel's opinion, Olesia's unyielding commitment to truth and fairness is admirable. He sees Olesia's ability to evaluate every situation through a crystal-clear prism that always reveals the truth as a testament to her honourable character. According to Pavel, Olesia is less likely to give in to temptation than he is, and her unwavering moral compass inspires him. 

Together with their wonderful son David, Olesia and Pavel have overcome many crises and adverse situations, and their love has only grown stronger over time. Pavel is immensely proud of having Olesia as his partner, and he sees her as his muse, wings, and primary motivator for new achievements in life. He thanks fate and heaven daily for bringing such a wonderful, accepting, and understanding partner into his life and hopes to spend many more years by her, learning from her and growing together. 


Pavel - a man driven by an insatiable desire for exploration - has always been captivated by the world beyond his hometown. Despite facing economic constraints in his early years, he dreamt of venturing to different parts of the world since childhood. His passion for geography was evident in his impeccable ability to memorize the capitals of countries, borders, cities, lakes, and seas from the atlas, which he knew by heart. To him, the concept of national borders is artificial, as he perceives humanity as one interconnected family without walls or divisions. 

Fuelled by his curiosity to learn about different cultures and languages, Pavel embarked on his journey to explore the world when he had the chance. His love for multiculturalism and cross-cultural interaction has taken him to various parts of the world, where he has learned and sung songs in more than ten languages. 

One of the most memorable experiences in his life was undoubtedly his honeymoon trip to Europe with his beloved wife, Olesia, in 2013. It was a cherished memory that he held dear to his heart. For Pavel, a man from distant Siberia with modest means, travelling to Europe was nothing short of extraordinary. They visited a plethora of cities during their trip, and Rome captivated their hearts with its grandeur, beauty, and rich history. Conversely, Prague felt like a set for a grand play, where they had an exceptional wedding photoshoot. 

Their trip culminated in Barcelona, where they visited the mountain monastery of Monserrat and the Basílica de Mare de Déu de Montserrat. It was here that they prayed for a miracle, and the heavens answered their prayers in the form of their son, David, who was born the following year. In 2018, they returned to the same monastery to express their gratitude for the precious gift they had received. 

Pavel's insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding of the world beyond his horizons inspires him to explore new places, learn new languages, and immerse himself in diverse cultures. His ability to break down barriers and connect with people from different backgrounds is a testament to his unwavering spirit of adventure. 


Pavel personifies the values of tenacity, integrity, love and freedom. He firmly believes that love is the bedrock of all human interactions, the foundation upon which all processes and actions are built. Love encapsulates acceptance, respect, and interest. Without it, life would be an empty and meaningless existence. 

Apart from love, Pavel values the essence of freedom. He considers freedom an essential value that allows individuals to realize their full potential and express themselves in the most authentic way possible. According to him, any life without freedom would be a 

stifling and oppressive experience. Hence, he firmly believes everyone should be free to express themselves without restrictions or limitations. Pavel's unwavering commitment to these values is evident in his every action. He approaches every interaction with love and respect, and he is a tireless advocate for his own freedom and the freedom of others.

Pavel's dedication to these core principles has earned him the admiration and respect of those around him. His unwavering spirit inspires others to live with love and freedom as their guiding principles.


Pavel's fervent love for journalism and singing was ignited in his early days. However, it was his legal education that piqued his curiosity, eventually leading him to embark on a career in law. Despite receiving an offer to study opera singing at a music school, he pursued his passion and regard for law and attended law school, which ushered him into the legal field. 

For 14 years, Pavel diligently worked as a lawyer across various disciplines. Yet, he was disheartened by the corruption plaguing the legal system, administrative interference, and violations of justice and independence. The general degradation of society only added to his disillusionment. 

Upon arriving in Canada, Pavel considered a career change to focus on social work and charity, an area in which he had extensive experience, having volunteered for Russia's largest charity foundation. However, he met individuals who believed in him and his passion for the law, reigniting his interest in the field. Pavel felt the spirit of freedom, order, and justice in Canada's legal system, something he had not experienced in Russia. 

Pavel has taken a new path, working for a legal firm and planning to retrain to become a lawyer in Canada. The country has renewed his faith in the profession, himself, and the rule of law. Pavel now carries a sense of hope and purpose that he had thought lost. 


Pavel's story is one of heartbreak, disillusionment, and a search for a new home. Born and raised in Russia, he has always been proud of his nation's rich culture and history. But as the years went by, Pavel began to see cracks not only in the facade but piercing into the very heart and soul of his beloved homeland. He watched as the authorities slowly eroded the people's rights and freedoms, witnessing the destruction of civil society and institutions. Pavel had been aware of the need to leave for a long time, but he was unable to emigrate in 2015–2016, after Crimea and the beginning of the war in Donbas. Despite his efforts to make small deeds that would counteract the evil, Pavel's theory of good actions, aimed at improving and changing the situation at the grassroots level, did not work. 

In early 2022, sensing that things were worsening, Pavel and his wife decided to apply for a Canadian student visa. Little did they know that war with a neighbouring country was just around the corner. On February 24th, 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine, and Pavel openly condemned the war. He had signed petition letters in support of a ceasefire for Ukraine. Pavel had begun supporting Ukrainian charitable foundations, which were later prohibited by the new Russian laws and have since been interpreted in Russia as extremism and treason. 

The ongoing violence and dehumanization in Russia are a stark reminder of the atrocities that can be unjustly inflicted upon innocent lives. For Pavel, a concerned citizen who has witnessed the heart-wrenching pain and suffering of Ukrainians, it is a call to action. He believes that a collective and individual awakening is necessary to confront the brutal murder of countless lives and the massive destruction of cities. 

Despite his unwavering hope towards Ukraine's future, the reality of Russia's current state has left Pavel deeply disturbed. Amid rampant corruption, propaganda, and oppression, he believes that in-depth and truthful examination and forthright dialogue are imperative to prevent chaos from taking a perpetual hold. He urges individuals to denounce evil, expose propaganda, and resist oppressive regimes, even if they unknowingly contributed to these issues. 

Pavel's ultimate hope is that the leaders of Putin's regime will be held accountable for their crimes and that Russia will undergo a transformative process at all levels. But until then, the pain and suffering of innocent people caught amid this conflict continues to be heart-wrenching. The Ukrainian people's unwavering bravery, unyielding strength, and unrelenting pursuit of freedom in adversity are unparalleled and deeply inspiring. It is time for the world to pay attention and stand in solidarity with those fighting for their fundamental human rights and dignity. 

Although Pavel was born in Russia, his Ukrainian roots ran deep. He cherished Ukrainian culture and language long before the war. As the conflict raged on, Pavel found comfort in Ukrainian art and music, offering him an inextinguishable flame of hope amid chaos. But as the war dragged on, Pavel was disappointed by the response of his fellow Russians. Many of his friends and family members seemed indifferent to the conflict, neither supporting nor condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was only in February 2022 that Pavel came to the jarring realization that the country he had grown up in no longer existed. With a heavy heart, Pavel made the difficult decision to turn his back on his homeland, becoming an advocate for peace and throwing his support behind Ukraine. Pavel felt pain, shame, anxiety, fear, and, worst of all, hatred. 

The fear of persecution and imprisonment behind the Iron Curtain under the oppressive regime was too much to bear. Pavel and his wife decided to leave the country immediately. They left behind their familiar people and lives, gave away most of their belongings to charity, and packed their essentials in a few suitcases. However, their 

journey to relocate to Canada was fraught with challenges. The Canadian Consulate in Warsaw paid no heed to Russian cases, leaving Pavel and his partner stranded in Turkey for four months since March 16th 2022, waiting for a visa decision. Despite their efforts to explore other relocation options, they were left with no choice but to return to Russia, feeling lost and hopeless. Pavel's former job offered him employment again but in worse conditions. However, Pavel and his wife found solace and purpose in supporting Ukrainian refugees in Russia by working in a warehouse to provide them with clothes, food, and assistance with household issues. 

“Since the statutory deadline for the Immigration Department to process Canadian visa applications for my family expired in the spring of 2022, we had to start exploring the Canadian legal landscape to find a solution. Eventually, together with a Toronto lawyer specializing in immigration law, we filed a mandamus application in federal court. A writ of mandamus is a judicial remedy in the English legal system consisting of a court order that commands a government official or entity to perform an act legally required to perform as part of its official duties. The application itself did not guarantee approval of the visas but only the issuance of a final decision, which could have been a denial. However, we received their visa approval in November 2022, nine months after filing the first application. We fled Russia again in December 2022, having had time to say goodbye to our family. My first experience with the Canadian legal system made me believe that there are still countries where the rule of law is not just an empty word.” (Pavel)

Pavel was fortunate enough to leave his motherland in time to escape the escalating violence and chaos that consumed it. With the country losing its humanity and moral and ethical values and plagued by violence and injustice, Pavel realized that he couldn't return anytime soon. His conscience kept haunting him, and he empathized with those who were unable to leave and admired those who stood in solidarity with the brave souls who fought against the oppressive regime. 

The ongoing conflict has irrevocably altered Pavel's life. He and his family must rebuild their lives and learn to live without a homeland. Although their story is just a speck against the backdrop of the global catastrophe and the tragedies of Ukrainian families, Pavel sincerely hopes that his son, David, will not be an enemy to future generations of Ukrainians. He believes that his child will grow up to be an honest and fair citizen of the world and that freedom and conscience will not be empty words for him. 

Pavel longs for a world where "no more war" is the rallying cry. His heartfelt desire for lasting peace and human flourishing is shared by many worldwide. The loss of his homeland has left him and his family adrift, and he laments that so many Russians have strayed from the path of kindness, consciousness and justness. The post-war future is uncertain for everyone, and Pavel reiterates that it will require diligent soul-searching and self-reflection to ensure that future generations can live free from the horrors of war. Pavel's prayer for "Peace to Ukraine and freedom to Russia and Belarus" is a poignant reminder of the importance of understanding the complexities in these troubled times. Despite everything that had happened, Pavel held a long and hopeful view of the days to come, believing that Russia could one day overcome the darkness that consumed it. 

Pavel and Olesia's journey inspires hope despite numerous challenges along the way. When their path led them to Vancouver, Canada, in January 2023, they saw it as a new beginning, a chance to live freely and flourish. However, the transition was challenging for Pavel's family. Their financial cushion quickly depleted, and Pavel had to take up a laborious, low-paying job as a florist to support his studies. The pressure took a toll on him and his wife, as they eventually developed clinical depression. Their son David also struggled to adapt to his new environment due to the language barrier. 

Amidst struggles, Pavel and his family found comfort and encouragement in the arms of Christ Church Cathedral. They found acceptance, love, and a sense of community that helped them pull through. By the end of 2023, their hard work and determination paid off, as they secured two new jobs, and their son David spoke English fluently and made new friends. Today, Pavel's family has found a place they can finally call home, with aspirations and a plan for the future. They carry forward the hopefulness, goodness, and love they received from their community and are determined to give back to others in need. 


Pavel's visit to the Vancouver Christ Church Cathedral was a transformative experience that left a lasting impression on him. His initial curiosity was driven by a desire to explore the historical building and immerse himself in its atmosphere. But upon arrival, he was greeted with much more than he had anticipated. He was warmly welcomed by the incredible Bill Orr (who is multilingual and well-versed in Russian). Bill invited him to attend the Sunday service, and he receptively accepted. 

The experience at the cathedral was a stark contrast to Pavel's previous encounters with religious institutions. His experiences at Orthodox churches in Russia were marked by oppressive and fear-inducing atmospheres. However, the Vancouver Christ Church Cathedral offered a different perspective. Pavel found a sense of love, acceptance, concern, and openness that resonated with him deeply. He felt that he had discovered what God truly meant to him - love, which permeated everything, from the parishioners' attitudes to the communication between those at the service. 

Pavel's visit to the cathedral left a profound impact on him. He found a place to instil hope and peace in his heart without fear of punishment for his sins. He saw a community that believed in what they preached and confirmed it through their actions. It was a transformative experience that gave him a newfound purpose and direction. 

Pavel expresses his immense gratitude to the community for this experience and considers himself fortunate to have stumbled upon the cathedral. He experiences this parish as a place where love, acceptance, and respect are paramount. In this community, 

everyone is valued, and each individual's experience is of interest. People support one another and express love through actions leading to the creation of meaningful friendships and edifying interactions that generate dignity and joy. Pavel's experience has reignited his spiritual curiosity and faith in hope, and he is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a welcoming and witnessing community. 


Biographer: Ivy Clark
Member of the Dean’s Council for Diversity & Multiculturalism
Christ Church Cathedral