Rally in support of Ukraine held in downtown Kelowna, B.C.
Kelowna online group “Kelowna Stands with Ukraine” hosted a rally in the city’s downtown on Saturday to show their support for those still living in the war-torn country, and for those who have fled to the Okanagan for a better life.
For some newcomers, it was their first formal introduction to the community. Dozens showed up, including many proudly waving flags in a show of support for their home country. It was also a chance for them to get connected to some much-needed supports.
“Many Ukrainians want to find the community where they will get help,” explained organizer and former Ukrainian citizen, Dennis Storozhuk.
“And not only help financially, but informational help. Where they can find friends, where they can find community and not just go somewhere where they will be lonely.”
As tensions continue to escalate in Ukraine, Storozhuk says now is the time for everyone to get together to get the message across that the terror and fear caused by Russia must come to an end.
“With Russia formally annexing Ukrainian territory, and with all this stress that they’re throwing about nuclear usage and mass mobilization in Russia, a lot happened in the last few weeks that we wanted to get people’s attention to,” said Storozhuk.
There’s no doubt that leaving behind everything you’ve ever known for a new life elsewhere would be difficult, but many of the Ukrainian newcomers Global spoke with were just thankful for the warm welcome they’ve received since arriving in the Okanagan.
“Well, it’s much different than it was back home, but everyone is being really nice and supportive, and my school is also really great,” said 12-year-old Sofiia Kopets, who recently moved to Canada.
“Everything is going amazing here.”
“I’m happy here,” said Sofiia’s younger brother, Tim Kopets.
“It’s fun at school. I’ve made a lot of friends there, it’s just really fun.”
While their time spent in Canada has been memorable so far, the two siblings say they’re looking forward to the day when they can safely return to their homeland.
“Well, I definitely miss the food at home,” said Sofiia.
“I just miss the feeling of home.”
The harsh reality for many Ukrainians who have fled their country though is it will take time before they can go back.
“I don’t see how it’s possible for my family to come back to Ukraine,” said Mykola Gridasov, who moved to Kelowna from Ukraine just seven weeks ago.
“Every day there is rockets shooting and people dying. A few days ago, there was a massive shooting with hundreds of rockets shot in Ukraine by Russia.”
The grassroots group organizing these events, Kelowna Stands with Ukraine, is always looking for financial donations and volunteers to continue its work, both in the Okanagan and in Ukraine.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.