“To this moment, I still remember his first arrival to Canada,” Misha Bazelevskyy’s brother, Andriy, said of his move from Ukraine. “He came out of the car and just stretched his hands and he said, ‘Yeah! Finally!’”
Mykhaylo (Misha) Bazelevskyy was excited to start a new chapter in Edmonton. The then-17-year-old student born in Odessa, Ukraine, started school at MacEwan University soon after, having immigrated to Canada to study supply chain management.
During his studies, Misha participated in exchanges in Lille and Nice, France.
He died in the attack on a Bastille Day crowd on July 14 while on exchange in Nice for a three-week international educational program in entrepreneurship. He was 22 years old.
Misha’s family and friends recalled him being particularly excited for his trip to Nice, as he enjoyed trying new things and approached life with a sense of adventure.
“Misha was a go-getter,” said Andriy. “He wanted to change the world and he wanted to make it better.”
He was interested in finding new avenues for better living, and wanted to pursue a career at Tesla Motors, where he could work toward this goal.
Andriy said Misha had applied to work at Tesla before, and that it’s likely his latest application is still being processed.
Misha expressed his eagerness to work for the automotive and energy-storage company in a Facebook post earlier this year.
“Dear Recruiters, please please look into my application! I want to be part of the movement! I am prepared for challenges and want to work hard, learn about every detail, and innovate at TESLA,” he wrote.
Andriy describes his younger brother as an out-of-the-box thinker, known best for his gentle manner and intense ambition.
As a child, Misha’s eagerness and enthusiasm drew him to ballroom dancing. Competing in both the standard and Latin streams of the sport, he travelled to Germany, London, Miami and Poland, winning several competitions in the process.
Andriy said Misha’s love for sport and travel shaped him into the man he was — a man who sought a life of excitement and elation.
“He enjoyed travel and change. He lived for that,” said Misha’s sister-in-law, Stephanie. “He loved to experience new things, and he was all about embracing any kind of opportunity that was out there.”
One of those opportunities was following in his brother Andriy’s footsteps by moving from his hometown of Velikodolynske to Edmonton.
Shortly after arriving in Canada, Misha grew a university career that embraced the campus community and everything it had to offer.
He was a students’ councillor and cross-country runner who was involved with clubs and sustainability on campus. During his time at MacEwan, he lived in student housing, working as a residence assistant.
“I think the way he contributed (to MacEwan University) is just evident in the way students talk about him,” said Andriy, who wasn’t previously aware of several of Misha’s successes due to his brother’s modesty and introversion.
Brittany Pitruniak ran for student council alongside Misha in their first year of university, and is one of many students who speak highly of him.
“The first thing that I think anybody was going to recognize in Misha was his smile,” she said. “He was always just a happy man. There was always just a positive spirit about him, and (he was) super enthusiastic to dive into whatever he was doing.”
Dimitar Ibrishimov, a close friend of Misha’s, said his positive spirit was apparent in everything he did.
Misha was outgoing, but reserved. Funny, but quiet. Intelligent, but not overstated.
“He was a very shy kid, but he had a very, very gentle soul,” said Ibrishimov.
Despite his shy demeanour, Pitruniak said Misha was confident and did everything with passion.
“He was fearless in going after and trying anything once,” she said. “It’s something so rare, especially in university when students are finding themselves and trying to figure out what to do. He had this passion and zest for life.”
Pitruniak highlighted being partnered with Misha on a student council scavenger hunt as something that had made an impression on her. Ibrishimov recalled fake kung fu fighting during soccer games as one of his favourite memories of Misha. One of Andriy’s and Stephanie’s favourite stories was one Misha shared about dancing with a drug lord’s girlfriend in Mexico.
Misha was particularly excited about that story. Because of his skill as a dancer, he caught the attention of a beautiful girl at a club in Mexico. He had seen her earlier, sitting with someone he assumed to be kingpin of the club.
When the girl asked to dance, Misha was worried saying “yes” might cause a confrontation. He decided to say yes anyway and lived to tell the tale.
Andriy highlighted Misha’s friendliness and generosity in another story from that same trip.
Adventurous as ever, Misha was exploring the area and decided to go for a swim. He had left his sweater on some rocks, and upon his return, discovered that it was no longer there.
“Then, a couple hours later, he’s just walking down the street and he sees his sweater on someone else,” said Andriy.
Misha told the person wearing the sweater that it belonged to him.
“(The man) was like, ‘Do you want it back?’ And Misha said ‘No, that’s okay, I gift it to you,’” Andriy laughed.
All of Misha’s families’ and friends’ memories share a common thread: laughter.
While he was fun, he was also sentimental. He was carrying Ukrainian currency and his immigration information when he died.
“He was prone to losing things, but he still was carrying his landed immigrant card, because I think it meant a lot to him,” said Andriy.
Making our world better
Misha was a Ukrainian patriot who loved Canada. He was a promoter of peace, and that’s how his family wants him to be remembered.
“That’s a huge thing about Misha, is that he was loving and he would not hurt a fly,” said Andriy. “He’d always be considerate to others, and he would be non-judgmental.”
“He wouldn’t agree on certain things that I would tell him, or my mom would tell him, or anyone would tell him. He always questioned, and he had his own mind. He wasn’t a follower; he was a leader.”
Andriy said Misha was focusing on post-secondary education because he “hadn’t bloomed yet” and was working toward the stage in his life where he would have the ability to make a bigger difference.
Once he got to that stage, it was his goal to expand upon the work he had contributed toward improving the current state of the world.
“In his perspective, he would’ve tried his (best to make the world) better,” said Stephanie.
Misha leaves behind his mother, Olena, his father, Mykola, and his brother, Andriy, along with his extended family.
They want him to be celebrated and remembered as being kind, outgoing, compassionate, genuine and loyal.
“So many students get lost in the shuffle of university,” said Pitruniak. “This is an example of how one individual had such a huge impact on our campus, in our city and in our community.”