When she can find a few minutes from running the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, Victoria Grando scrolls through her phone, looking for any news of Ukraine.
Family and friends are never far from Grando’s thoughts as she reads a message from a friend.
“She is in Kiev, Ukraine, she is sending me a little greeting, happy Independence Day,” Grando tells CHEK News.
Aug. 24 is Ukraine’s Independence Day, and six months since Russian forces invaded the country.
Grando says support in Ukraine for their troops remains strong.
“They are very proud of Ukraine armed forces,” Grando says. “And they are praying for them to come home safe, and the greeting for Independence Day today is; bring us victory. Victory, and peace.”
And she said the support from the community is overwhelming.
“It’s amazing that we have such a strong community here,” Grando says. “Not only Ukrainian community, but communities behind, above, it’s unbelievable. We had a huge support from Filipino community, East Indian communities, Punjabi community, Polish community. You name it.”
Waiting for peace is Iryna Hromova, who came to Victoria three months ago with her two-year-old son.
They live in transitional housing at the Kwanis Village, her family are all back in Ukraine, including her father, who is fighting with the army.
But Hromova said there’s been no word from him for days.
“We still don’t know where he is, what’s happened. Is he alive? So, it’s really hard, always to,” Hromova said, starting to cry. “Everyday just worried about how he is.”
The war seems far away, especially with an active toddler, but Hromova has a message for her country, and Canadians.
“Don’t forget. Don’t forget,” Hromova said. “Just be Ukrainians. Be strong.”
To show support, the Ukranian community is gathering at the B.C. Legislature Wednesday evening.