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Ukrainian refugees in Okanagan brace for Christmas away from home

Click to play video: 'Ukrainian refugees in the Okanagan spending Christmas away from home'
Ukrainian refugees in the Okanagan spending Christmas away from home
As Ukrainian refugees settle into their new homes in the Okanagan, some are also bracing to spend this holiday season away from their loved ones, in their first Christmas away from home since the war began. Victoria Femia reports – Nov 26, 2022

For Ukrainians who fled their war-torn country, the days leading up to Christmas will look and feel different.

“Men who can serve in the army, they’re not allowed to leave the country, so there are a lot of single ladies with kids here, so obviously they miss their husbands and fathers,” said Denys Storozhuk, the Kelowna Stands with Ukraine President.

Read more: Ukraine continues to work on restoring water, power after Russian strikes

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Some refugees who fled Ukraine did so without their families, making this Christmas a tough one to celebrate.

“It’s very difficult to be away from home, of course, every day I’m thinking about home because part of my family stays in Ukraine,” said Yuliia Garrdokozachuk, who moved to Kelowna from Ukraine two weeks ago.

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“Sometimes I feel guilty because I’m in a warm space with light and everything and so many people stay without lights, without food.”

Click to play video: 'Supporting Ukraine and Iran with ‘Human Rights Drive’ in Kelowna'
Supporting Ukraine and Iran with ‘Human Rights Drive’ in Kelowna

For Ukrainian refugee, Tina Danylova, who moved to Kelowna one month ago, these days have been difficult for her, with her family still in Kyiv and conditions only getting worse.

“There was kind of breakdown for me lately since (the war) escalated a little bit more, so, for a couple of days, there was a total blackout with no water, no electricity, no connections,” said Danylova.

“But (my parents) are okay now and I wish they were here with me.”

Read more: Ukrainians in Kelowna, B.C. worried about ‘fading’ support as war rages on

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The Kelowna Stands with Ukraine organization is urging the community to support Ukrainians in any way they can, because it will not only support refugees in the Okanagan but also those in Ukraine.

“People in Ukraine will really appreciate it. I know the stories when people sleep in the snow because their house is bombed out and so, it’s very difficult,” said Storozhuk.

The Kelowna Stands with Ukraine organization plans to hold a celebration in January, which will be open to the community. They are also holding a toy drive every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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