Castlegar rally marks one year since Russian invasion of Ukraine
February 24, 2023 marked one year from the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On March 6, roughly 25 people gathered at Castlegar’s Spirit Square to commemorate this solemn occasion.
Hosted by Kootenay For Ukraine, the event was marked by a moment of silence both at the beginning and again at closing. Opening statements gave updates on the current situation in Ukraine, and discussed critical needs. Weapons, medical supplies and a constant battle against propaganda were listed as being most critical at this time.
Several community members stepped forward to offer ways locals can assist, from fundraisers and volunteering, to media and information sharing.
Attendee Ross Harvey explained his reasons for joining the rally.
“I’m here because I find the war in Ukraine loathsome. I desperately hope for peace,” Harvey said.
Daryna Bukach, now living in Canada, from Kyiv, Ukraine, described what the invasion has been like.
“Your life is upside down. You had your plans, you had your apartment, you wanted that. You had your life plans. And then suddenly you’re somewhere, nowhere, in the middle, and you don’t know what will come next,” Bukach said. “And right now, you’re just grateful that you’re here, that you’re safe, but you’re still worried for your friends, your families who are there. You don’t know what will come next. And you will not know. Your life is totally wrecked.”
Movie producer Iuliia Stashevska: “My family, my husband, myself and my 17 year old nephew came here several months ago. It was a way for us to find a safer place, environment. We were particularly worried, obviously, about my nephew and his future. He was in Ukraine and that he had to be evacuated. We were happy to find such welcome here and good people to understand what is happening in Ukraine, trying to help, trying to support any way they can.”
Photojournalist Volodymyr Shuvayev came to Canada in June.
“It was a very warm welcome that I didn’t actually expect at first, but it’s a very warm community that really helped me settle, and also helped settle a lot of Ukrainians that I’m encountering here,” Shuvayev said. “And some of them are my friends. Some of them are people that I never knew before. We try to get as much help as possible to the front lines.
“Myself, personally, during the last year, I have collected over $30,000 CDN. to donate to the Ukrainian Army, to the Azov Regiment with help with sending night vision goggles, blood-stopping tourniquets, and various medical equipment. I’ve also participated in sending 10 ambulances to evacuate the wounded from the front lines. We are trying to build a new life, but we also try to help as much as possible. And my word is everyone can help wherever they are.
“Many people think that if they’re not in Ukraine, they cannot help, which is not true,” Shuvayev added. “There is always a way to help with finding a fellow Ukrainian, supporting them emotionally, supporting them financially, helping people settle, collecting money, donating whatever he or she can. And here in British Columbia, we have a nonprofit that actively helps Ukrainians in many places independently. It’s called Maple Hope Foundation. And this is our way to help.”
Local resident Randy Evanchuck expressed another concern.
“ I’m a fourth generation Ukrainian Canadian from outside of Edmonton, Alberta. I think that the number one concern is propaganda.”
Larysa Iaroshchuk originally from Kyiv, Ukraine shared her hopes for the future.
“Ukraine will definitely win. There will be a victory of truth, freedom and democracy over evil. This victory will change the world, changing the mindset of many people and bringing peace. Keeping kindness and love in our hearts is also a big victory for everyone which creates peace in the whole world.”