While many Canadians are digging into their pockets to offer what they can to Ukrainians affected by war, some Ottawa residents have made more permanent shows of support.
Artists at New Moon Tattoo say they were inundated with interest after offering to ink people as a fundraiser for the Red Cross’s humanitarian crisis appeal in Ukraine.
The night before the fundraiser, the tattoo shop posted a selection of designs for $100 a piece, including Molotov cocktails, sunflowers and tractors pulling tanks.
“I think about 120 people showed up, so we were overwhelmed. We were able to do 65,” owner Dan Allaston said.
Tattooer Milena Fusco said she was moved to organize the fundraiser in part because news of the Russian invasion hit close to home. Her mother was a political refugee from Czechoslovakia and Fusco wanted to honour her experience.
“It was hard, kind of sitting at the shop and watching what was going on and knowing we could maybe raise money for the cause. So we just jumped in,” Fusco said.
The shop raised $6,800 for the Red Cross’s Ukraine humanitarian crisis appeal.
New Moon Tattoo is among many small businesses, individuals and charitable organizations across Canada coming up with creative ways to support Ukrainians. From blue and yellow bow ties and earrings to fundraising concerts and film screenings, many are finding ways to do their part.
Andrij Hornjatkevyc was preparing Saturday to play the bandura, Ukraine’s national instrument, in a fundraising concert hosted by the University of Alberta’s Department of Music and Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies.
Hornjatkevyc, who is originally from Ternopil in western Ukraine but has lived in Alberta for 30 years, said he was checking in with family abroad until recently losing contact with them.
The retired associate professor of Ukrainian Studies said the concert would include a battle song for a Ukrainian legion in the First World War known as the Sich Riflemen. The song is like a second national anthem in Ukraine, he said, making it a meaningful piece for the show.
“All performers are responsible for what is being done. That is, we have to do our best to make sure it is appropriate for the occasion, so everything is going to be meaningful,” Hornjatkevyc said.
“Tonight is a beautiful example of the arts, especially the musical arts and spoken arts, being put to service to help Ukraine.”
Also in Edmonton, a Ukrainian bakery owner said he dedicated all sales one day to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
“We did it to show the general public that everyone can help,” said Vitalii Petrechenko of Tisto Cakes.
“I understand the $4,200 we sent to Ukraine is a drop in the sea, but if everyone did the same it will be an ocean.”
Canadian charities are also redirecting some of their energy in some cases to relief efforts in the conflict.
Dr. Bridget Stirling, president of ICROSS Canada, said the organization typically offers medical and educational programs and supplies in North Africa and the Middle East. It shifted some focus to Europe, however, after diplomats from Poland and Ukraine who were familiar with the organization asked for help.
ICROSS has since created a supply chain from Warsaw, Poland to Lviv, Ukraine to deliver supplies ranging from dried foods to diapers and socks, Stirling said.
It means supplies that make it to a warehouse in Warsaw are taken to the border, collected by Ukrainians on the other side and taken to another warehouse. From there, they are distributed by car rather than truck, so as to avoid creating a target, she said.
The organization has worked in partnership with Compassionate Resources Warehouse to send a 40-foot shipping container full of supplies from Victoria.
It is also accepting donations to help pay for medications, which it can purchase at a discounted rate, to send to the Western Children’s Hospital in Lviv.
Stirling said the response from people on the ground in Ukraine and Poland has been very positive.
“We’ve had so many people saying we’re so thankful Canadians have heard and understand and are with us,” Stirling said.
“Even if it seems like a small thing, a pack of socks, it’s saying, ‘We’re standing with you.’ ”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2022.