Ukrainian community in Nanaimo holds large fundraiser for the Red Cross

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There was an exceptionally long line outside Sandy’s Ukrainian Kitchen Saturday, Nanaimo’s go-to place for Ukrainian perogies, as proceeds were going to the Red Cross’s efforts in Ukraine.

It was part of a large fundraiser Saturday by the Ukrainian community in Nanaimo.

“Lots of volunteers today. My family’s amazing so I just. I think we’re going to do awesome today,” said Sandy Kosolowsky, Owner of Sandy’s Ukrainian Kitchen.

From the money flowing in, including several donations beyond food sales, it appears the totals raised will be impressive.

Kosolowsky is among those with family in Ukraine. The gravity of what’s happening in her parent’s former homeland is close to her heart.

“It’s terrible I mean some of the stuff that he’s bombing is just…a maternity hospital. The hospitals. Like why? It’s shameful,” said Kosolowsky.

One of the customers today is also among those impacted. Randy Munro’s daughter-in-law, now in Nanaimo, is from Ukraine and she too has family there who are being supported by a GoFundMe.

“It’s unbelievable. We’re in the 21st century. These types of events aren’t supposed to happen anymore and one person has started this travesty. I think we’re foolish to sit back and think that he’s just going to stop with Ukraine,” said Munro.

Several blocks away in Nanaimo, the Ukrainian flag is waving and music is keeping spirits up. Many of those here would normally be involved in the Vesna Ukrainian dancing group but with the war underway people are doing what they can by selling baked goods, 50/50 tickets and borscht.

“It’s sickening what’s happening. I can’t believe it’s happening. I can’t believe it’s happening to these people that they have to flee to these other countries just to be safe,” said Leanne Pacholok, with the Ukrainian Cultural Society of Nanaimo.

Mary Martin and her partner are selling their art and jewellery with proceeds also going to Ukraine, one of the few here without a connection.

“One of our laws from our Indigenous people is to respect each other and help each other,” said Martin, who notes many people have stood up for Indigenous rights within Canada.

It was a united front Saturday as people felt compelled to help the people of Ukraine.

The fundraising effort comes as the province prepares for a wave of Ukrainian refugees.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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