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Local Ukrainian volunteer organization to mark grim anniversary

It’s been nearly two years since Russia invaded Ukraine, but the war is far from over.

According to Ukrainian Canadian Volunteers Association, Russian soldiers invaded Ukrainian Crimea 10 years ago Tuesday and in four days it will be two years since the full-scale invasion.

“Today is such a day and Ukrainian people are still fighting for freedom, justice and peace and we support as much as we can,” said Ukrainian Canadian Volunteers Association member Svitlana Shkyn.

“Canada is my home, and I am very proud to be here. It is my permanent home; it is also a temporary home for so many Ukrainian families, including my immediate family as well here in Penticton.”

The association does not know exactly how many Ukrainian refugees have settled in the Okanagan but according to Shkyn there are a lot.

Liuba Reiko fled Ukraine with her youngest son just over a year ago and is now living in Penticton. Rieko says she fears for the rest of her family’s safety as they are still in Ukraine.

“I won’t be able to rest as I am worried too much until the war is over,” said Reiko.

“Every day I talk to my parents and mom and when they tell me that there are rockets above their house it is really hard to hear that and I am really worried for their safety.”

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Rieko’s eldest son, Sasha Rieko, and her husband were able to join Rieko in Penticton around five months ago.

Sasha Rieko says he is not homesick because home is where his family is and that is now the Okanagan.

“For me, my family is more important and to feel my family close to me and feel that my family is good,” said Reiko

“For me [it’s] not important the place but more important the people.”

The family says the community has been very welcoming and they are adjusting to life in Penticton while working and going to school to learn English.

Liuba Reiko does not know what is next for her family but is thankful to be in the Okanagan.

“I am not scared of work, and I am very happy to have a job. I do a very different job than I did in Ukraine. In Ukraine I was an accountant and here I am a housekeeper at the Lakeside Hotel, but this gives me an opportunity to live here and support my family,” said Reiko.

“We are not planning anything, to be honest, since the beginning of the war if we lived one day than we are already happy in peace and if we could help our family and friends in Ukraine that makes us happy. We really like it here, but we have no plan, we don’t know what is next. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Meanwhile the Ukrainian Canadian Volunteer Association says support has faded for those at war, but help is still needed.

“Right now, the next fundraising goal is to purchase medical tackle kits as well that saves lives in the field,” said Shkyn.

The association has connected with volunteers like Stanislava Samoylova in Ukraine who put together the medical kits and deliver them to the front lines.

“Ukraine and its defenders are in extreme need of tackle medicine so please help us to save a thousand lives of those who save ours every day,” said Shkyn.

The association plans to participate in more local markets as well as a candlelight vigil in Kelowna this Saturday to mark two years since the full-scale invasion.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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