A local man has left Kelowna to fight for sovereignty in his home country of Ukraine.
Ivan (name changed to protect identity) has lived in Kelowna for the past nine years but recently left the Okanagan to protect his homeland from Russian invasion. He served in the Ukrainian military earlier in life and felt it was his duty to return and use his expertise to help out as much as possible.
While Ivan made the flight to enter the war by himself, he is not alone. He is supported by the people of Kelowna and will soon be joined by a Ukrainian man from Kamloops.
Before leaving his family, Ivan was outfitted with the best tactical gear Kelowna had to offer, provided by the people of Kelowna.
He has joined the Territorial Defence Unit, a branch of the military made up of volunteers. Ukraine does not have enough tactical gear, armour and helmets for the defence unit, so the people of Kelowna took it upon themselves to ensure Ivan, and others, are ready for combat.
“We dressed him from top to bottom,” said Denys Seorozhuk, one of the organizers of the fundraising and tactical gear initiatives. Seorozhuk said that he is proud of the community and their generosity.
Ivan boarded the flight overseas with six suitcases packed to the brim with medical supplies, and equipment donated or purchased with the $100,000 raised.
While checking in, Air Canada paid for two of his bags while a stranger in line paid for another.
Ivan told Capital News that he has been wearing a carrier vest that was purchased in Kelowna and the other people in his unit have complimented him on it, wishing they had one too. He also noted that his binoculars, marked with a note ‘To Ukraine from Kelowna’ written on them, are excellent.
Ivan said that his unit is especially thrilled that he brought ten tactical radios, and belt loops for rifles for the group, along with other gear.
He said that his team has requested pouches for rifle magazines, night vision devices and optical scopes.
His defence unit is stationed away from the front lines in Chervonohrad and has been tasked with protecting a “secret installation”. He said that there has been no Russian conflict in Chervonohrad as of Mar. 13, but “it is unpredictable”.
Seorozhuk said that the Kelowna Stands With Ukraine fundraising group has purchased 53 body armour sets and 15 military helmets that are currently en-route to Ukraine.
They are currently working with PreLabs in Kelowna to produce additional tactical gear to send to the Ukrainian military. The Kelowna company is actively hiring people to fill the large orders placed for gear for Ukraine.
Seorozhuk assures anyone looking to donate that the Kelowna Stands With Ukraine fundraising is completely volunteer-run and said that there are no administrative fees. To donate auto-deposits have been set up at firstname.lastname@example.org.