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Ukrainian newcomers to Vernon welcomed with barbecue

Kin Beach the place for a welcoming event hosted by Vernon’s Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble
Vernon Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble artistic director and Ukrainian Canadian Congress Thompson Okanagan Branch president Andrea Malysh (second from left) shares a celebratory cake with dignitaries attending the Welcome Ukraine Newcomers to Vernon barbecue Sunday, Aug. 21, at Kin Beach. Joining Malysh for the cake cutting are (from left) Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming, North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold, Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu representative Charlene Heidt, and Vernon councillors Kelly Fehr, Scott Anderson and Teresa Durning. (Contributed)

It was a welcoming ensemble hosted by an ensemble.

Vernon’s Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble hosted a welcome barbecue for Ukraine newcomers to Vernon on Sunday, Aug. 21, at Kin Beach.

“With the support of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Thompson Okanagan Branch (UCCTO), today we celebrate Ukraine’s 31st Independence Day that was adopted by the Parliament of Ukraine on August 24, 1991,” said UCCTO president Andrea Malysh of Vernon.

The Parliament of Ukraine formally declared an independent and democratic Ukrainian state, establishing the territorial integrity of Ukraine as sovereign and inviolable, further upheld by anoverwhelming majority of Ukrainians in a national referendum in December of that same year.

“For centuries, the people of Ukraine sought and struggled to achieve an independent state allthe while preserving their culture, language, and self-identity,” said Malysh. “Since our families arrived from Ukraine more than 100 years ago, Ukrainian Canadians continue to make significant contributions to the cultural fabric of Canada while embracing our rich history and heritage, with which we share values of freedom, and democracy.”

Canada is home to more than 1.4 million who identify with being Ukrainian, and is the largest diaspora outside of Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian Canadian Congress represents our communities, most recently with the war in Ukraine with humanitarian aid,” said Malysh. The Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble has raised more than $25,000 for the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.

The barbecue was attended by more than 120 newcomers from Ukraine, their hosts, and elected officials including Millar North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold, Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu representative Charlene Heidt and City of Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming. Vernon councillors, Scott Anderson, Kelly Fehr and Teresa Durning also attended.

Kseniia Rudenko was instrumental in providing Ukrainian translation of all the speeches for the newcomers.

Malysh has been working with both the British Columbia government and UCC National with weekly meetings since the war broke out on Feb. 24 in an effort to create the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAETS) program for newcomers along with all other affiliates including United Way, Red Cross and local settlement agencies.

“That without the assistance of both the federal and provincial governments, there would be no support to bring Ukrainians fleeing the war to Canada,” said Malysh, who is also the Sadok ensemble’s artistic director.

“I’d like to thank the Sadok families and friends for their assistance in serving dinner at the barbecue,” she said. “A special thank you to Sadok president Katie Porteous, Kevin Porteous and Scott Chatterton.”

Supporters for the event included the City of Vernon, Safeway (for creating the amazing celebratory cake), Buy-Low Foods - Vernon, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, VegPro, Back To Earth.

If interested in making a donations to the Canada – Ukraine Foundation for Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine. please visit or contact Malysh for information at 250-309-6948 or email

READ MORE: Outreach program supporting dozens of Ukrainian refugees in Vernon

READ MORE: Vernon donors step up to aid Ukrainian refugee family

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