Local Ukrainian Canadians rally for invasion refugees

John Griffin 

The invasion of Ukraine has triggered a massive response from the large Ukrainian-Canadian community in Brome Lake and beyond. Depanneur Rouge in Knowlton was a hive of activity one day recently as volunteers sorted through donations of clothing, medicine and non perishable items, packed them into boxes, and loaded them into a van and two SUVs bound for Montreal and on to refugee camps in Poland. 

Knowlton resident Bohdana Zwonok was born in Canada three years after her parents arrived from Ukraine. As a kid, she went to Ukrainian school on Saturdays, speaks, reads and writes in her family language, and still cherishes her roots. With the invasion she felt compelled to act against what she calls “the Russian atrocity”. 

Bohdana was there for the load-out, helping stack boxes till “you could not fit a sheet of paper between them”, and was quick to praise the efforts of those who put their shoulders to the wheel of aiding those displaced from their homes, families, and native country. 

“There are incredible people in this community,” she said with the passion of conviction. “They have offered so much.” For example, she points to the van offered by Le Centre Marguerite Dubois in Bromont, now groaning under the weight of local largesse. She says she realized a week into the invasion there would be a need for humanitarian action and personal initiatives. 

So, with others and through word of mouth, she started organizing the gathering of clothes and medicines and marvelling at the generosity of our two local pharmacies, and the Lions Club, which donated $2,000 to the cause. 

“I am very touched by the groundswell of support from the people of Sutton, Bromont, and Brome Lake, and by the kids who showed up to pack the vans,” she said. “I am moved by their tolerance and generosity and so very privileged to live here.” 

There remains much to be done in the days, weeks and months ahead and Zwonok encourages those who can, to donate funds directly to sites that will channel them to Ukraine. 

“I have been an activist for many years and helped when the old regime oppressed intellectuals and political prisoners. I never thought I’d have to do it again.” 

Donations best sent to : https://www.cufoundation.ca