Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov
On February 24, the Russian Government Genocide of the People of Ukraine entered a new stage: the physical elimination of Ukrainians from their homeland on all territories of Ukraine. In one month, more than 25% of the total population of Ukraine (+10 Million People) has been displaced, and thousands have died. The global community has seen the thread that Russia created in the democratic world. When Putin’s system (bully) is not stopped, their Aggression can escalate globally. No one will be saved from the nuclear catastrophe unless the world stands in unity and fights the Russian Government Aggression.
The people of Ukraine have been fighting Russian Government Aggression for more than 300 years. Millions of Ukrainians worldwide have formed strong Ukrainian Diaspora communities that, together with local people globally, support the People of Ukraine. At this time, it is critically important to help Ukraine’s land defenders who fight for global peace and find ways to stop the Russian Government Genocide. Furthermore, it is essential to document every crime against humanity that is happening now in Ukraine to prevent future wars and destroy Putin’s regime and ideas from spreading. It is also essential to note the efforts of global communities to stop the war and recognize its worldwide impact on how to support displaced populations.
Kamloops, BC is located on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory, situated within the unceded ancestral lands of the Secwépemc Nation. In the 2016 Census, 8.6% of Kamloopsians claimed their Ukrainian heritage (7760 residents).
Since February 24, thousands of Kamloopsians #StandWithUkraine and helped in multiple ways to stop the Russian Aggression. Here are some of the ways Kamloops is contributing to the #WorldStandWithUkraine movement.
Rallies and Peaceful Gatherings are happening weekly in Kamloops. TRU students, under the leadership of Andrii Lobanov organized a rally at the Law Courts on Columbia Street on Saturday, February 26, at noon. TRU students and rally participants shared their experiences to Michael Potestio on what it means for them to #StandWithUkraine. Dylana Kneeshaw, on March 1, reported on how Ukrainians studying at TRU raising awareness and funds to send protective equipment to Ukraine. TRU Students also organized a rally at the TRU with the support of TRU World leader Baihua Chadwick. CFJC Dylana Kneeshaw and Kent Simmonds reported hundreds of people attending a rally at TRU on March 3. Andrii Lobanov in Riverside Park organized the most recent rally on March 20. Kristen Holliday reported that more than 100 people gathered with flags in hand to #StandWithUkraine.
In addition to TRU students, TRU Faculty, Ukrainian Diaspora, faith and other communities in Kamloops were organizing gatherings to #StandwithUkraine. Simya Ukrainian Dance Group organize weekly gatherings in Kamloops on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. The first gathering was at the Hope sign in Riverside Park. More than 300 people attended and created a human chain throughout Kamloops downtown to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. Shannon Ainslie reported that Simya brings colour, hope to rallies in support homeland. Michele Huston one of the Simya rally organizers and a second-generation Ukrainian-Canadian, thanks to her Baba “for being a strong person, teaching us our culture and telling us the stories to keep it alive. She helped to maintain the culture we deserve, a lot was lost during (the First World War). Today we continue to fight for an identity, we are fighting to be who we are”.
With support from Human Rights Committee co-chairs Manu Sharma and Sasha Kondrashov, Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association organized a gathering at TRU. Faculty and staff from TRU shared their stories and connections to Ukraine and the importance of standing in solidarity with Ukraine. Thank you to the TRU Chaplain, Pastor Jane Gingrich, for a non-denominational prayer. Thank you to all the speakers for taking the time to stand with Ukraine: TRU student Monique Brunelle from Simya Ukrainian Society in Kamloops; Melanie Reed and Dean Michael Henry, Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics; Baihua Chadwick, TRU World; Brian Daly, VP, University Relations; Sara Wolfe, Associate Dean Faculty of Student Development; Dean Baldev Pooni, Trades and Technology; Tara Lister, TRUFA President; Lois Rugg, CUPE President; Dean Rani H. Srivastava, School of Nursing; Frank Caputo Member of Parliament; Mary Hemmings, Librarian, Faculty of Law; Nancy Bepple, Refugee and Friends Together; Dean Yasmin Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work; Ihor Stasyuk, Faculty of Science; Harpreet Vaidvan, EDSW Student. Thank you to all who come and speak at every rally, as your voices of solidarity are needed every day to protect human rights in Ukraine and globally. Shannon Ainslie reported on the rally.
Stephanie Swensdure reported on weekly rallies and interviewed Oleksandr (Sahsa) Kondrashov, who teaches social work and offers community learning classes on Ukrainian Diaspora Studies: “We want to make sure that we stand with Ukraine every week. And the idea is to make sure that there is visibility in Kamloops, a place where people can come during the week and show solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” said Kondrashov in one of the interviews. In addition to attending and speaking at every rally to educate the public about the war in Ukraine, Sasha hosts weekly healing circles that unite people who stand with Ukraine globally. Everyone can register on Zoom or attend a weekly rally at City Hall in Kamloops to sign up and receive weekly e-mail updates on how #WorldStandWithUkraine and a special digest with Kamloops-specific events. TRU students also created a Facebook group and Instagram page: Kamloops Stands with Ukraine, to inform the community about local events. If anyone is interested in sharing any resources with People who might come from Ukraine to Kamloops, please add your name to Google Form. Sasha Kondrashov will share the collected data with Kamloops Immigrant Services to match the needs. Kent Simmonds created a Facebook album to document #StandwithUkraine rallies in Kamloops. Special thank you to all the people of Kamloops who sew Ukrainian flags for everyone who attends Saturday rallies. Thank you to Barb, Michelle, and Helen, who organized their sewing teams to ensure that all the 80 meters of material are shared among members of the Ukraine community to #StandWithUkraine.
“Armchair Mayor,” Mel Rothenburger wrote a few op-eds on the war in Ukraine:
February 28 Do anti-war rallies supporting Ukraine make any difference?
March 2: Kamloops needs to open its wallets for Ukraine refugees
March 21: Putin’s ban on Kamloops MP is truly a ‘badge of honour’
Shelly Joyce posted a few interviews on CBC Kamloops Daybreak website:
March 1: Kamloops Ukrainian group concerned over letter sent by TRU leadership
March 2: TRU on Russian invasion of Ukraine
March 8: Kamloops woman tries unusual method to help people in Ukraine
Faith Communities in Kamloops #StandWithUkraine. Hills of Peace Lutheran Community offers a weekly prayer for Ukraine on Zoom every Friday. Kamloops United Church recorded A Prayer for Ukraine service https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuqDahBDxi8 and invited Sasha Kondrashov to share the update on the war in Ukraine. Kamloops Alliance Church is planning to host a few refugees families from Ukraine. Canadians can also donate to EWay Missions in Ukraine through Rebecca Sanden by e-transfer or through CTEN (Canada) under Sanden/Ukraine (for a tax receipt) or to Dan Sczebel Sr, who is also currently located in Ukraine. Chad Klassen reported that Ukrainian Orthodox Church holds a special service to pray for friends, family back home. Michael Potestio reported that Holy Trinity Ukrainian Church in North Kamloops is working on supporting people who might be coming from Ukraine soon.
Here is more information that was shared with the Kamloops community on the war in Ukraine
Kamloops MP Frank Caputo was put on Russian blacklist
Polish Community in Kamloops organized a pierogi fundraiser to support people from Ukraine.
Williams Lake First Nation matriarch Nancy Sandy offers her prayers to Ukraine. Secwepemc Matriarch Muriel Sasakamoose and Gwendyline Campbell McArthur of Ojibwe/Saulteaux Metis and Ukrainian Ancestry offered territorial acknowledgement on Saturday rallies.
Shannon Ainslie reported that two women from Kyiv, Ukraine set up accounts with all three General Grants bottle depots in Kamloops so everyone can donate to #StandwithUkraine account and the collected money can be sent to UCC Humanitarian Appeal fund.
The faculty of Education and Social Work at TRU approved a statement of solidarity with Ukraine.
Tim Petruk reported that Refugee group plans fundraiser ahead of a potential influx of people fleeing violence in Ukraine
Chad Klassen interviewed multiple groupa on their readiness to support newcomers from Ukraine.
Thanks to the Google Translate extension, Dr. Kondrashov’s edited Welcome to Kamloops e-book (accessible edition) can be accessed in Ukrainian. The English version of the guide is posted on the Kamloops Immigrant Services website.
Carli Berry reported on Kamloops artist who created a beautiful sunflower stained-glass piece to support Ukraine.