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Somber faces illuminated by candlelight: Kelowna vigil for 1 year of war in Ukraine

People attended a vigil, a car rally and an expo this weekend to raise money, awareness for the war

Refugees, dual citizens and those with no connection to Ukraine other than a desire for peace, stood shoulder to shoulder over the weekend in Kelowna to acknowledge the one year anniversary Russia’s invasion.

“It’s just a moment of remembrance,” said Denys Storozhuk, founder of Kelowna Stands with Ukraine and the organizer of the Friday Feb. 24, candlelight vigil, which took place at St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 1935 Barlee Road on Friday night (Feb. 24).

While addressing the crowd he said that after the war started, his son asked him what he was going to do to help their friends, family and countrymen back in Ukraine. Since then, Storozhuk said that he wakes up every day thinking “what can we do to win this war and what can we do to help people?”

He is the driving force behind Kelowna Stands with Ukraine (KSWU), a local not-for-profit that has sent hundreds of bullet proof vests, generators, medical supplies and other essential items to help those on the front lines.

Storozhuk said that photos and video from the vigil will be sent to people back in Ukraine to boost morale and show them that people around the world are supportive and standing together against the violence caused by Russia’s invasion.

KSWU also helps to house and care for people who have been displaced by the war and are seeking shelter in the Okanagan.

To continue the weekend, the Bravery Foundation held a Ukrainian expo at the Dormition Mother of God Catholic Church on Saturday (Feb. 25) from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The expo was admission by donation and had many vendors to help raise money for Ukraine and to help Ukrainians who have moved to Kelowna since the war started a year ago.

Many vendors sold baked goods, Ukrainian candy and traditional Ukrainian clothing, flags, pins and more. On display was also stories and photos of loved ones who died in the last year because of the war.

The Bravery Foundation had five different donation boxes for five different causes — a general fund, one of displaced Ukrainians, one of a Ukrainian orphanage, one for volunteers in Ukraine and a humanitarian fund. People could also donate using their credit card and were eligible for a tax receipt.

Service BC and Service Canada also had vendors at the event to help Ukrainians who have come to Kelowna. International Gateway Kelowna, KCR Community Services, Kelowna Share Society and more were also provided their services.

All funds raised at the two events will be used to support displaced people and those on the front lines in Ukraine.


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