Newcomer from Ukraine engages TikTok audiences by trying Canadian staples

Since arriving in Canada in May, Andrian Maknachov has been on a quest to discover and try the most Canadian treats and activities.

Just a few months ago, Maknachov was studying international relations and communications in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv when Russia attacked his country.

The 19-year-old made the difficult decision to leave his father, who was staying behind to protect Ukraine, and move to Regina to be with his brother, who had already been living in Canada for three years.

Maknachov with classmates in Ukraine. (Facebook/Andrian Maknachov)

When he arrived at his brother’s apartment, it was so different from the apartments he had seen before, so he took a video to send to his friends. They encouraged him to post it on TikTok.

He has now made videos testing all-dressed and ketchup chips, Nanaimo bars, Canadian beer, Kraft Dinner, Coffee Crisp, maple cookies and his neighbor’s homemade borscht. He went camping, fishing and to Tim Hortons. More recently, he visited Toronto and Niagara Falls.

andrian maknachov
Maknachov admits he tried poutine once at McDonald’s (!), but gave this poutine a 10/10. (Alex Soloducha/CBC)

We at CBC decided to take him for his first traditional Canadian poutine, which was one of his most requested videos on TikTok.

After a brief explanation of the cheese curds and sauce, he gave it a 10 out of 10.

WATCH | New Canadian tries traditional poutine for the first time:

Luckily, it didn’t disappoint, becoming one of his favorite Canadian meals so far (along with Boston Pizza’s spicy perogy pizza, which he says tasted Ukrainian.)

Her first viral video on the app was trying maple syrup macaroni. The funny comments and advice he received sparked more videos as he responded, trying out their suggestions.

Now, being a TikToker is second nature.

Every morning when he wakes up, he starts his day by reading comments, DMs (direct messages) and Instagram messages.

« They’re all really nice. I don’t have bad messages [or] bad comments and it inspires me to post,” Makhnachov said. “I feel like I have a lot of friends here in Canada.

« It’s really cool. »

andrian maknachov holding phone for tiktok
Maknachov says he started TikTok to show his friends how different Canada was from Ukraine. He says it helps him momentarily forget about the war back home. (Alex Soloducha/CBC)

Although he now feels responsible for filming and posting what he does, he said he still has fun doing it. If he gets to a point where it’s no longer fun, he says he’ll quit.

His current aspiration is to have one million followers.

« Every day I have new ideas, » Makhnachov said, explaining that when he picked up his favorite childhood sweets from the Ukrainian Co-op in Regina for me to try in a video, he decided to film a another video at the store.

He never expected to become a bit of a social media celebrity, but now has over 165,000 followers and 3.8 million likes.

Thirty percent of its subscribers are Canadian, while it also gets views in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Russia, among other countries.

TikTok has also been a well-deserved break from the clout he carries knowing his home country is in the midst of war. Luckily, his father is fine, but when Makhnachov first moved out, his days and nights were mixed and he spent hours reading the news.

« I don’t usually sleep and then I started posting videos and it distracts me. It helps, » he said.

The strong Ukrainian community in Saskatchewan also facilitated the transition. He is part of an association of Canadians of Ukrainian origin which regularly organizes events and meetings.

He likes to see Ukrainian flags on homes and businesses and takes a picture of everyone he sees to send to his friends back home. He has also noticed that many people he meets in Regina have Ukrainian surnames.

maknachov and diplomats
Maknachov with the Korean ambassador, the Uzbekistan ambassador and the Ukrainian director of international relations while studying international relations at university. (Facebook/Andrian Maknachov)

Sometimes, when he is walking to work at a local bakery, he overhears a few people speaking Ukrainian and he intervenes.

« Everyone is really nice, » he said.

Makhnachov hopes to become an international relations student at the University of Regina. He is also interested in cinema and journalism.

But for his next tasting, he’s going to try beaver tails. The fried dough pastries, stretched to resemble the tails of perhaps Canada’s best-known animal, have been in high demand among its supporters.

andrian maknachov with ukrainian candy
Maknachov bought Ukrainian candy from the Ukrainian Co-op in Regina. He said they reminded him of his childhood and his family. (Alex Soloducha/CBC)


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