At Victoria’s Ukrainian Cultural Centre, preparations are underway for a festive celebration.
There are all the trappings of a traditional Ukrainian Christmas, complete with classic Ukrainian dishes to musical performances.
“We have some finger food, we have newcomers musicians and singers, we’re going to do carolling, traditional Ukrainian carolling and some performances like typical Ukrainian stories,” says Andriy Fabrikov, the president of the centre.
It’s all an effort to bring together the Victoria Ukrainian community and refugees from Ukraine who are spending their first Christmas in Canada.
“We decided to make a small holiday for our newcomers who, unfortunately, due to recent events in Ukraine, [are] far away from their home, far away from their relatives and friends,” says Fabrikov.
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“We would like to warm all these people who lost their houses, who came without family and who lost the celebration of the Christmas celebration,” says Ukrainian choir leader Lina Streltslov.
As the war in Ukraine continues, the Christmas dinner offers a chance to escape from the harsh realities of the conflict.
“It’s kind of just to keep them back to their heritage,” says Fabrikov.
“We arrived here seven months ago at the end of April and we stayed here where we’re happy to stay here because here it’s like amazing people,” says Ukrainian refugee Mariia Bondarenko.
“It’s really amazing, but of course our heart stays in Ukraine.”