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Local group organizing support for Ukrainian refugees

A pair of Cranbrook residents have been organizing weekly vigils to support refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with more events planned in the future.

The events began in early March, organized by Tamara Cartwright and Kimberley Steoljardvic, to bring people together to show solidarity for people who have been displaced by the war.

“We decided on that first night, which was a Saturday, that we would meet again the following Sunday, and continue to do this every Sunday night until this war was over,” said Cartwright.

Cartwright spoke about what the upcoming event will entail.

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“This week, we’ll have borscht and pierogies for sale and that’s going to be a cookie jar donation funding,” said Cartwright. “All the money we’ll be making this weekend will go directly to Halyena Ishchuk’s family, who is one of the families that we work with every week.”

According to Cartwright, she is hoping to raise enough money to help the family with the cost of getting to Cranbrook as well as general living expenses once they arrive.

“We’d like to see that community come out with more support. We need more numbers,” said Cartwright. “We need funds for these people, but we also want to show them that Cranbrook is a warm and welcoming place for their families.”

For now, efforts made by East Kootenay Ukraine Support are trying to help out one family in particular.

“We are focusing on a mom and two kids that are actually in Poland as of last Sunday. This is Ishchuk’s family, and they are en route, that’s why we wanted to get this done as quickly as we can,” said Cartwright. “We’re hoping that they’ll be there within the next three weeks.”

“In the future, we’re hoping to bring as many families as we can.”

This week’s event will be on Sunday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Cranbrook’s Rotary Park.

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