Kelowna’s diverse backgrounds came out to support Ukrainians at a peace rally held on Feb. 27 outside city hall.
The community came together to raise funds and gather supplies for Ukraine after Russia, led by president Vladimir Putin, launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine on Thursday, Feb.24.
“We need to speak up,” said Svitlana Shkyn, a Ukrainian-Canadian and organizer of fundraising efforts. “We need support from Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian people. Despite your cultural heritage we are all united together.”
Shkyn’s brother is currently in the volunteer army in Ukraine.
“We need to stop this tyranny. We need to stop Putin and his government,” Shkyn said.
On Friday, March 4, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., the Georgia Cafe will host a Ukrainian lunch fundraiser. The cafe has donated the use of their kitchen and equipment to Ukrainians preparing food for the Friday event.
They will be serving a cup of borscht, perogies and Ukrainian cabbage rolls. All proceeds from the lunch sales will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal.
Last Sunday’s crowd was full of Georgian supporters, who lived through a similar Russian invasion over a decade ago.
“This happened to us in 2008 and there was not enough to say, ‘stop’. This is not about Russia, this is about Putin,” said a Georgian-Canadian who wishes to remain anonymous. “He wants the Soviet Union to be the Soviet Union, but nobody wants that.”
The Georgian community said they want to stand strong for their Ukrainian neighbours after the support they received in 2008.
“Ukrainian people were standing beside us and saying that they are our friends,” said the Georgian supporter.
“We just want to say back that we love them and we will always be with them.”
Members of the Taiwan cultural society were also in attendance.
Wayne Lai, the president of the society, said that Taiwan is in a similar situation to Ukraine right now. Taiwan is an independent country, bordered by a large and powerful country looking to take control of its territory.
Lai said Taiwan is standing in support of those wanting to live in a sovereign state, adding, “we condemn violence and aggression.”
“This is a war against humanity, society and democracy,” said Lai.
Russian supporters were also in attendance at the peace rally, saying they love their “Ukrainian brothers and sisters.”
“I hope that with our little voices here, we can somehow encourage support from Canada,” said Vsevolod Lynov, a Ukrainian-Canadian, worried for his loved ones back home.
Support can be sent to the Emergency Humanitarian Aid to the People of Ukraine, organized by CNEWA Canada.
Support for the beleaguered Ukrainians can also be sent through the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Canada-Ukraine Foundation, which have established a humanitarian fund.