Sandy’s Ukrainian Market opens in Nanaimo to give Ukrainians a taste of home

CHEK

The Vesna Ukrainian dancers helped mark the official opening of Sandy’s Ukrainian Market at Nanaimo North Town Centre Saturday.

The store is an idea of Sandy Kosolowsky, who has run Sandy’s Ukrainian Kitchen for two decades and saw a need among the Ukrainians who have fled the war and landed in or near Nanaimo.

“They’re missing their home. They’re missing their products, They’re missing everything,” said Kosolowsky. “It’s a good feeling for them to them, that they can buy products here that they had back there.”

It’s also a way to provide employment for the Ukrainian newcomers. She’s hired six more people to help run the new store.

Ivanka Chernysheva is among those now working at the shop.

“I am pretty happy about it actually because there’s part of my home here, and I love being surrounded by this and I love that Canadians are curious about this. They’re exploring my culture and my food,” said Chernysheva.

Ukrainian roots

Kosolowsky has led a fundraising effort that’s sent $102,000 to help Ukrainians fleeing their homeland.

She feels compelled to help as the war has claimed many of her family members.

“We’ve lost 78 family members that I know of because we haven’t heard [from them] and the area where they farmed was bombed and everything was covered in, so we know that nobody lived through that. They were underground in shelters,” said Kosolowsky.

Roughly 2,000 Ukrainians have landed in the Nanaimo region in the past two years.

The Vesna Ukrainian dancers were showing their support Saturday and continue the call for an end to the war.

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Vesna Ukrainian dancers are pictured at the market’s grand opening. (CHEK News)

“Just to get the word out there that this crazy war is still happening,” said Leanne Pacholok, Vesna’s Artistic Director. “People we know personally who are fighting and people who aren’t coming back.”

Kosolowsky’s continued fundraising now helps Ukrainians who have settled in the Nanaimo area as the impacts of the Russian war continue being felt on Vancouver Island.

Sandy’s Ukrainian Market had a soft opening in Nanaimo North Town Centre three weeks ago.

SEE ALSO: Two-year anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine marked in Victoria

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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