Ukraine Crisis: Fundraiser Draws Hundreds to Saint John

A benefit fair organized by the new “Ukrainian Association of Saint John” drew hundreds of people to the Jervis Bay Legion in Saint John, New Brunswick on Saturday afternoon.

“I can’t believe what I see around me,” says Svitlana Goncharova of the band. “Because we were expecting 200 people, and I think we had 400 in the first hour.”

Traditional Ukrainian music, food, crafts and more were on display, with all donations and proceeds from the event to be used to help with the humanitarian crisis unfolding following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

“We’re going to help people who are actually doing things locally,” says Bogdon Gonchorova. “I know my own friends and my own family who help local guys build shelters, provide food, sleeping bags, all that kind of stuff.”

People of all ages gathered for the event on Saturday to do what they can to help those left at home – including eight-year-old Dimitri Boinitski, who drew and sold copies of a comic book which he made out of concern for his grandparents in Ukraine. .

“I did a comic,” he told CTV News. “And I really don’t want my grandparents to die, so I wanted to sell it.”

It was also highlighted that not only is assistance needed in the form of donations and supplies to be sent to Ukraine, but also that there is a need for housing and other supports for those who will be coming to Canada.

“For me personally, it’s my way of doing something for my country and for my people,” says Svitlana. “Because it’s a very happy atmosphere here, but what’s happening right now in Ukraine is heartbreaking.”

Bogdon says Russia underestimated Ukraine but also the level of support it would receive from around the world, including the Maritimes.

“So I’m very grateful for everything you do, and everything to help us,” he said.

For more information on the Ukrainian Association of Saint John and how to donate, click here.

Christi C. Elwood