Across New Brunswick, Ukrainian immigrants formed associations, raised funds and opened their homes to help those fleeing war.
The newly formed Ukrainian Association of Saint John will hold its first fundraising event on Saturday. The Ukrainian Club of Moncton has been holding fundraisers since March, and the Ukrainian Community of Fredericton is holding a fundraiser for humanitarian relief on Sunday.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, more than three million refugees have fled the country, creating what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
The hundreds of Ukrainians living in New Brunswick are 7,000 kilometers from the country, but are still working to help.
Ivan Zakharenkov, President of the Ukrainian Association of Saint John, will host three families in his own home, some of whom are wives and children of his childhood friends. Their husbands cannot travel because the men have to stay and fight according to the law.
“[The goal is] to give them temporary accommodation and help them acclimatise,” he said. “Just to show them around, so people understand how Canada works.
Svitlana Goncharova, vice-president of the Saint John association, said it has 30 volunteers who volunteer their time and homes to welcome people who come to New Brunswick to escape war. To support this effort, the group is hosting a fundraiser at the Jervis Bay Legion on Saturday.
Information morning – Saint John16:53A new local Ukrainian association hopes to raise funds, support and bring Ukrainians to Saint John.
There will be products from local vendors for sale, food tastings, weaving, crafts and live Ukrainian music.
“I just want to see a lot of people from Saint John just to feel their support,” she said.
“Personally, I appreciate all the messages and all the kind words, it helps a lot to understand that we are not alone and Ukraine is not alone.”
Zakharenkov said the money will be used to help people in Ukraine and Saint John. He said the donations will be used to help people cross the border away from the active war zone and to people who come here – for things like bus passes and covering travel expenses. initial setup.
Sharing traditions to create bonds
The Ukrainian Community of Fredericton is holding a similar fundraiser, called Stand Together, on Sunday at Journey Church.
Organizer Oksana Tesla said doing something was the best way to deal with the stress and worries of family and friends back home. Conservation with them is not enough, she says.
“These conversations are difficult,” she said, but doing something helps more than talking about it. They have already sent nine pallets of medical supplies to Krakow and have teamed up with people in Moncton to do more.
“‘How are you?’ questions don’t help in this case, unfortunately,” Tesla said. “So we talk about what we can do.”
As part of Sunday’s event, there will be a workshop to teach people about traditional folk dolls called Motanka, she said.
Motanka are household guard dolls and are known for having no face and being made without needles.
“It goes back to the main purpose of the doll, it should be to protect,” she said. “So when there’s a cross on the face, it’s even more protective.”
The doll’s name comes from the word “roll,” Tesla said. The fabric would be rolled up and thread would be used to tie it. When making the dolls, people often thought of their wishes for the people the dolls are for.
“Certainly everything should be positive,” she said.
The dolls would also have a different shape depending on the purpose. Dolls for healthy children would be small, and a few dolls would be made for a happy marriage.
“Most common goals are health. … If you want to gift the doll to your friend or your relative or even your children, with your thought, you would put all those wishes into the doll.”
Some of the dolls made by community members will be sold during the fundraiser.