Facing language and employment barriers and anxiety for their loved ones back home, several displaced Ukrainians gathered in Kelowna last weekend for a forum offering psycho-social support.
Close to 100 people from almost every region of Ukraine met to discuss the challenges of forced migration. The Saturday event at the Kelowna Downtown Library was a partnership between Kelowna Stands With Ukraine and the the Maple Hope Foundation.
The Canadian non-profit, that has providing humanitarian aid since 2014, brought mental health professionals, psychologists, immigration consultants, and academic and career advisors to Kelowna.
“It is very important to heal the wounds of the war together and to heal each other by drawing a roadmap for a lighter and brighter future,” said Dr. Svitlana Kominko, co-founder and CEO of Maple Hope Foundation. “This is our second joint event with Kelowna Stands With Ukraine and we hope to continue our partnership in helping our brothers and sisters, who are suffering from the atrocities of the war in our province and back home in Ukraine.”
Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Maple Hope has provided over $12 million in humanitarian aid to Ukrainians.
Kelowna Stands With Ukraine has been helping displaced families and individuals settle in the Central Okanagan since early 2022. The organization has raised over $400,000 for such things as direct assistance to hospitals and schools in the war-torn country.
"Regrettably, there is diminishing hope the war will end soon," says KSWU founder Denys Storozhuk. He says that is adding to the depression and anxiety for those living in Canada hoping to go home.
“Events like this forum bring people together and provide solutions - solutions to psychological problems, building a career and life in Canada and even to immigration,” he notes.
Some of the Ukrainian families living in the Kelowna area are facing their second Christmas away from their homeland.