Ukrainian culture showcased in Kelowna, B.C. expo

Local Kelowna organizations met on Saturday afternoon to showcase Ukrainian culture in honor of the country at an exposition held at the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The expo was put together by the Bravery Foundation, a cooperative of Ukraine and local community organizations supporting Ukrainian refugees who fled the war and made the Okanagan their home.

“Today brings together all the organizations that have helped Ukraine in the last year,” said Bonnie Penner, founder of the Bravery Foundation. “So that the people of the Okanagan can see what we have all achieved, and find ways to join us in helping Ukraine in the future.”

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The exposition displayed a wide variety of Ukrainian goods, including food, candy, clothes, and heirlooms. All are available by donation and those donations help Ukrainians both here and in Ukraine.

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“All the money collected will be used for various initiatives. Some will go to displaced Ukrainians here in the Okanagan, and some will go to buy medical supplies for Ukraine itself,” he said. Penner said.

There are also concerns that support for Ukraine will begin to wane as the war enters its second year.

“We hope that the desire to help Ukrainians and Ukraine will return,” said Kelowna Stand with Ukraine President Dennis Strozuk.

“But what happened a year ago and now we have much less support day and night. I can understand that.”

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Since the war began last February, the Kelowna Stand with Ukraine Organization has raised over $400,000.

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“Three-fourths of this money was used to buy supplies for Ukraine: first protective suits, then water filters, generators. I’m more focused,” Strozuk said.

Another local organization that donated an ambulance to Ukraine last year is in the process of purchasing another ambulance, much larger, which volunteers describe as a “hospital on wheels.”

“Just like civilians, it can save a lot of lives on the front lines. It can help more people. This bus can help five to seven people,” he said. Uliana Kotser, a volunteer for the Help Ukraine group, said.

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