A Ukrainian convoy started in Kelowna and made its way to Vernon on March 12, in order to raise money for the people of Ukraine in their war with Russia.
Denys Storozhuk is a Kelowna resident from Kyiv and is one of the leaders of the convoy, along with Shimon Gelblum and Daniel Sora. They are organizing direct support for Ukraine fighting against Russian aggression. There is also a Facebook group they created called ‘Kelowna Stands with Ukraine’.
“My whole family was able to leave to Poland,” said Storozhuk. “Everyone else I know is fighting. They went to the territorial defense units and they’re supplying them.”
Storozhuk added he’s been able to keep in touch with his friends who are fighting every day.
— Jordy Cunningham (@CunninghamJordy) March 13, 2022
Around 30 people showed up at Kelowna City Hall at 2 p.m., with about 20 people in seven cars making their way to Vernon.
The convoy arrived at Vernon’s Polson Park around 3 p.m. There, Storozhuk took the microphone to inform the crowd of about 50 people about the latest events in Ukraine, and what folks in the area can do to help.
Among those in the crowd were North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold and City of Vernon Councillors Akbal Mund and Teresa Durning.
— Brendan Shykora (@brendanshykora) March 12, 2022
Vernon resident Donia Strand has been a friend of Storozhuk for 20 years. She helped organize the Vernon portion of the rally.
She says helping Ukrainians survive the Russian invasion is the first priority for the group, and while the crisis may feel far away from home for Canadians, she reminds that Canada and Russia are neighbours in the north.
“We’ve found that Russia has put men and women back into the bases along the arctic. I think we have to be cognizant that we also share a border with Russia,” she said.
The will of Ukrainians with their nation under threat has inspired onlookers around the world, and Strand says it starts at the top with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“They are comparing him to Churchill right now, and I believe that he has rallied the world. I don’t think they would have gotten so many Western sanctions and such without such a strong leader,” she said.
Citizens who want to support and help can get Ukraine stickers for a minimum donation of $40.