From Russia to Newfoundland to the navy

Father and daughter: LS Iouri Ioganov and LS Victoria Ioganov. Photo by SLt M.S. Déry

Father and daughter: LS Iouri Ioganov and LS Victoria Ioganov. Photo by SLt M.S. Déry

SLt M.X. Déry, MARPAC PA Office ~

With a Russian last name like Ioganov, one might think there is only one Leading Seaman preceding it in the Canadian Armed Forces. But like the unusual last name, so is the story of Leading Seamans Iouri and Victoria Ioganov, father and daughter in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Their story begins in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union that left Iouri Ioganov struggling to find work as a mechanic. So a year later, he took a plane destined for Cuba, with a stopover in Canada, in search of a better life.

At the airport in Russia he met a young woman who was travelling to Quebec to stay with her sister and apply for refugee status. They established an instant connection and she gave him her sister’s address.

During the layover in Newfoundland, Iouri walked off the plane and applied for refugee status.

Choosing to work over taking free English lessons, he sought out employment in Newfoundland.

“I learned English in the car garage.”

After a few months, he decided to write the young woman in Quebec because he couldn’t shake the odd feeling she gave him at the airport. They wrote back and forth and fell in love through letters, and he asked her to move to Newfoundland to start a life together.

Two years later, their daughter Victoria was born. While it was tough financially, Iouri says the East Coast hospitality helped his family survive.

“I was living in a big apartment building designated for refugees. I have no family in Canada, but if I needed something, I went to my neighbours, and when they needed something, they came to me.”

In 1998, the family moved to Ottawa, and six years later Iouri joined the Royal Canadian Navy.

It was his goal all along, having been a mechanic in the Russian military, but he needed time living in Canada before he could apply.

He was posted to the West Coast, and for Victoria, on the cusp of being a teenager, this was a radical shift in lifestyle. She struggled for direction and dreamed of becoming an illustrator.

“I wanted to follow suit in my mother’s family lineage of artists. Every family member of hers, from her great grandmother onwards, were artists. It was a dream written in my DNA. I was planning on attending Ontario College of Art and Design University, like my sister.”

But her father, concerned about an unsteady career path, pointed her in the direction of the recruiting office.

“At first I was very upset, but in the long run, he was looking after me,” said Victoria.

She was offered hard army trades but settled on steward, a trade determined by her Canadian Forces Aptitude Test score. But she wanted to become an image technician, so she studied to improve her CFAT to make the transfer.

Two years ago, her transfer came through, and her dream of being an artist became a reality.

“Doing something I’m passionate about is mind-blowing,” she says. “Photography is my creative outlet.”

Father and daughter, of the same rank, with the same last name, share a bond beyond the navy – their admiration for each other.

“I have a picture of her, so young, with two medals already, having seen so much of the world, serving the country. Prouder than if she had been doing anything else,” said the senior LS Ioganov.

In retort, the younger sailor replied, “I have big expectations to fill. This is why I strive to be perfect.”

“You are perfect,” he said.

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  1. Mike Smith says:

    Go Victoria! You’re the best!

  2. Heather Parker says:

    Nice story. Victoria got what she liked doing best. Nice father/daughter story.

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