Bravery Foundation helps bring the first Ukrainian family to Kelowna since the Russian invasion began

From Ukraine to Kelowna

A Ukrainian family that fled Russian aggression is due to arrive in Kelowna this weekend.

Bonnie Penner, the founder of The Bravery Foundation, told Castanet that Ivanka, a woman in her mid-20s, her 9-year-old son Maxim and her 6-year-old daughter Natalia are expected to arrive this weekend.

They fled Ukraine on March 4 and have been staying with a friend of a friend in a one-bedroom apartment in Prague that’s shared by 12 other people. Ivanka’s husband has stayed behind to help free Ukraine and keep Ivanka’s mother safe.

The foundation has been helping Kelowna host Nina Typusiak navigate the red tape to bring her relatives here. “We just connected and I’m like, hey, I can do this for you. Let’s make this happen,” said Penner.

She says the host family doesn’t want to be inundated with calls, emails and messages in the first few weeks because they will be dedicating their energy to getting Ivanka and the children settled, so Bonnie is coordinating everything through the website.

“It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to raise an adopted family from Ukraine,” she adds.

The trio will need everything from bus passes, to English lessons, to counselling and a job for Ivanka, who has been granted a work visa under Ottawa’s program for temporarily displaced persons.

The family is the first of what Bonnie hopes will be many to temporarily settle here.

“Our first mandate is to help those people get settled in the Okanagan, provide them tangible items like clothes and toys and different household things. And then also to connect community members in the valley with them for jobs and services and different things.

“I’ve created a resource for all people from Ukraine that are coming over to connect federally, provincially, regionally and locally. I’ve also got the government processes and procedures and hyperlinks. It’s like a resource that’s quick and easy,” explained Penner.

The Bravery Foundation is also raising money and resources for the Norman Brigade, made up of professional soldiers from around the world who have deployed to the war zone to help rescue civilians and defend Ukraine.

Bonnie’s son left Tuesday for the front. He will be embedded with a unit of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces and took much needed medical supplies with him to help treat the wounded in places cut off from most aid agencies.

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