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Ukrainian students urge support from their peers

By Sophia Lopez, March 21 2022—

Ukrainian students at the University of Calgary are urging their peers to help support Ukraine, as the crisis in the country continues weeks after Russia invaded. 

The Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal was created in order to help the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in their efforts to provide relief for people in Ukraine and surrounding countries. Over $23,000 has been collected so far. 

Alexander Iwasyk, the president of the Ukrainian Students Society at U of C, discussed how the fundraiser with the Red Cross was set up by their executive team, who also worked to get the fundraiser endorsed by U of C. He said that he and his team felt that it was crucial to help Ukraine in any way possible.

“Here at the Ukrainian Students Society we felt the importance to contribute in any way we could, to show Ukrainians we, and the greater UCalgary community stands in support and solidarity with Ukraine,” said Iwasyk. “All donations go directly to the Red Cross — Ukraine Crisis initiative and will be used for non-lethal humanitarian aid on Ukraine’s Western border. Aid includes temporary shelter at the border, much needed medical aid and food and water.”

Considering the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been an active issue since 2014, Iwasyk wants students to know how complicated this crisis really is and the effects it has had on Ukrainian citizens.

“The war isn’t shocking nor unexpected, but like all conflicts, surprising nonetheless,” said Iwasyk. “In 2014, Russia illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula through use of military force and started a proxy war in Ukraine’s two Easternmost oblasts (provinces) of Donetsk and Luhansk. Since then, Ukraine has not only been fighting an active war but has been trying to join the European Union and NATO.”

While making donations is an excellent way to help aid the people in Ukraine, Iwasyk explained how receiving social support from his peers is ultimately more important and can make a greater impact on the situation. He discussed how difficult it has been for Ukrainian students to see this unfold, especially for those who still have family in the country. 

“Social support is the biggest thing you could do beyond donating,” said Iwasyk. “Mental health and support is a very important consideration and being there for someone can mean the most to them. Beyond that, social advocacy and making your voice heard is also extremely important. The more who stand up around the world the more we can place pressure on our governments to do more about the terrible situation — only then can real change happen.”

U of C President Ed McCauley released a statement expressing his condolences and support for Ukraine and Ukrainian students at U of C. He listed supports students could access if they are in need of mental or financial assistance. 

“Our thoughts are with the peaceful people of Ukraine, many of whom are bravely resisting the war waged upon them,” said McCauley. “For many years, Alberta’s large Ukrainian community has enriched our province, and our university is committed to providing tangible support to those impacted.”

To make a donation to the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal, visit the Red Cross website.

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