Continued support vital for Ukraine


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/07/2022 (322 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Those who attended the Roblin Community Leaders luncheon on June 3, heard how the war in Ukraine is not only affecting the Ukrainian people, but also all of us. In a presentation entitled Get real in times of war — how to support Ukraine, Olga Shmelova, who immigrated from Ukrainian eight years ago and is now director of mental health and addiction at Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY), provided insight and ideas about how we can support those caught in this crisis.

“When war started in Ukraine, people had 30 minutes to decide to stay or go — a decision that was forced upon them when the Russian army invaded their country,” Shmelova said. “The Ukrainian people went to sleep on Feb. 23 and woke on Feb. 24 to explosions.”

That was the beginning of what she called a “genocide”. Neither Invasion nor genocide is new to Ukraine, she noted, pointing to the invasion of Crimea in 2014. What is new is the resilience and spirit of the Ukrainian people fighting for their freedom and their future.

Olga Shmelova, who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine in 2014, spoke at the Roblin Community Leaders luncheon in June.

While this war is being fought on Ukraine soil, the whole world is affected, she stressed — from sky-rocketing gasoline prices to images of devastation and starvation. Many people are experiencing mental health and anxiety issues.

“We are all affected by these events,” she said.

People who want to help ask what they can do.

“You can show support in different ways — how you do that may depend on where you are in life,” Shmelova said.

Financial support is key, she added.

“If you can make a financial donation, even a small amount helps, especially if the donation is consistent. If you donate through the global initiative that President Zelenskyy has set up, the money will be distributed where it is needed the most. You can make a donation through Ukrainian-Canadian Congress —Manitoba.”

If a financial donation isn’t an option, you can donate furniture, clothing or food to refugees who are arriving in Winnipeg, she added, pointing out about 1,000 refugees have arrived and many need these items. The welcome desk at the airport distributes packages that provide information about housing and hotels, and the fact that the information is translated into Ukrainian is most helpful.

You can also get involved in one of the many fundraisers being held at schools, community centres, restaurants, and businesses. For example, Charleswood Rotary Club held a fundraising dinner with proceeds going toward bringing a family from Ukraine to Manitoba. The Rotary Club’s Bridge of Hope website offers another way to contribute.

Purchasing and wearing merchandise such as T-shirts or accessories that show support for Ukraine is another way other ways to raise funds that can be sent to Ukraine.

Displaying the Ukrainian flag in your house, car or organization is another powerful way to show support, she adds.

Shmelova said the refugees are educated and have experience in many areas.

“If you hire a newcomer show them that they are valued by making the workplace welcoming. That includes providing translation so they can better access services that are available to them,” she said.

She added that people can also advocate for Ukraine through various agencies and by calling or writing letters to the government pressing for ongoing support of Ukrainian refugees.

Donna Minkus

Donna Minkus
Charleswood community correspondent

Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.

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