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Student club holds inaugural event to help others while educating

Photo by Remi Yuan

Ukrainian students at the University of Ottawa want to help out their brothers and sisters both here and abroad, and let others know what it means to be Ukrainian.

On Oct. 28, the University of Ottawa Ukrainian Students’ Club (SUSK) celebrated their inaugural Ukraine Day with a charity bake sale and multi-approach cultural display.

Since November 2013, Ukraine has faced major political changes resulting in violent protests and is now engaged in military conflict with Russia.

According to Ukrainian chief military prosecutor Anatoly Matios, 953 soldiers have been killed and 3,627 injured in the Russia-Ukraine fights.

Proceeds from SUSK’s bake sale went toward helping wounded soldiers in Ukraine by fundraising for medical supplies and donating to the families. The Ukrainian army has had to rely on crowd funding for medical and war fighting supplies.

The club also used the day to promote the Canada Ukrainian Parliamentary Program, which lets university students from Ukraine travel to Canada to work with a Member of Parliament alongside his or her staff.

Along with piles of cookies emblazoned with blue and yellow, the country’s colours, the event was also a celebrative display of Ukrainian culture.

Event planner Solomiya Ostapyk, a second-year communication student, said she used every resource at her disposal to give onlookers the full, authentic Ukrainian experience.

“I thought at the university, why not bring a bunch of Ukrainian people together and show the whole university community what Ukraine is,” she said.

“We’re playing Ukrainian cartoons, slideshows, music, so it’s a whole multimedia event.”

The group let students try on colourful Ukrainian dance attire, watch the Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Company perform on a giant projector screen, or pass on the cookies in lieu of some perogies.

Founded in 2009, the club lets their members know about Ukraine-related events in Ottawa, such as the United for Ukraine rally on Parliament Hill this September. SUSK also links their members to information regarding international events, like how to vote through the Embassy of Ukraine for the country’s most recent parliamentary election on Oct. 26. They also share resources and information about studying the language and taking culture courses.

Although the club offers a sense of unity for those with Ukrainian heritage, Ostapyk said they welcome anyone who’s curious about Ukrainian culture—ancestry isn’t required.

“It doesn’t have a political stance so we want to welcome everyone to join it, no matter your views,” she said. “It’s not just for Ukrainian students. It’s for anyone interested in Ukrainian culture.”


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