Chilly and windy weather didn’t discourage some 500 people from turning out in White Rock Saturday morning (April 2) for a “Peace Walk for Ukraine” on the waterfront.
Local residents wore the yellow and blue colours of the Ukrainian flag as they gathered at Memorial Park for the walk, which travelled to East Beach and back.
Some $33,000 donated for humanitarian relief for the people of the Ukraine was raised at the event – organized by the Rotary Club of White Rock in collaboration with members of the Vancouver-area Ukrainian community and other supporters – including a sizable donation delivered on behalf of customers at the Cascades Casino, Langley by table game supervisor Irina Odintsova.
The money will be sent directly by the club to Rotary organizations in Ukraine to be dispersed where it will do the most good, according to White Rock Rotary president Gordy Sangha, who attended along with president-elect Carla Hanson and many other members.
Among those who spoke at the part-fundraiser, part awareness-raising event were Ukraine’s Honorary Consul in Vancouver, Mr. Lubomyr Huculak, while members of the Ukrainian community offered stories of the suffering of friends and family members since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.
Participants also saw a performance by a Ukrainian children’s choir, participated in a silent auction and enjoyed traditional Ukrainian dishes from food vendors.
Event chair and White Rock council member Anthony Manning said such strong community support showed how much local people care and understand the plight of people in Ukraine, who have “suffered terribly.”
“It is heartwarming to see how the community responded so quickly and generously regarding events that are thousands of kilometres away,” Manning said.
Sangha commented that the purpose of the Peace Walk was to show support for Ukrainian people – whether they are fighting or fleeing the country.
He said some may wind up in Canada and perhaps right here on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.
“We must help them,” he said.
Also helping to stage and participate in the event were the City of White Rock, the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce, White Rock BIA, Peninsula Arts and Culture Alliance, Sources Community Resources Society and Moby Dick Restaurant on East Beach, where owners Oleksandra Makogonska and Yuriy Makogonsky have created a hub of fundraising activity and local support.
People can continue to donate through Rotary by donating online or sending a cheque to the Rotary Club of White Rock, P.O. Box 75005, Surrey, B.C., V4A6G3.