Every day, Vernon’s Roman Chez is glued to his TV picking up whatever news he can about Ukraine.
He watches through Mediacast TV, where Ukrainian channels provide minute-to-minute information about the battle with Russia after the invasion Feb. 24 orchestrated by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
While Chez was born in Canada 82 years ago, and came to Vernon in his 40s, he has a lot of family in Ukraine, particularly the city of Lviv, about 70 kilometres from the border of Poland through which Ukrainian refugees are fleeing their home country.
It hurts Chez, his wife, Gail, and daughter Stephanie Czyz Bell, to see what’s going on in the Ukraine. The family was among about 30 supporters that showed up Monday at the Coldstream Cenotaph as the district raised the Ukrainian flag as a show of solidarity.
“I think the part of the community being involved is fantastic, great,” said Chez, who brought a large Canadian flag with him to the ceremony.
He’s been to the Ukraine a number of times. Chez has been an election observer three times. He’s gone multiple times to visit family. What warms his heart, and those of other Ukrainian-Canadians, is the fight back against Putin from the Ukrainian people.
“They’re not rolling over and they’re fighting very hard,” he said. “Ukraine is not aggressive. They’ve never touched anybody. This (invasion) is total murder of an extremely high degree.”
Chez had high praise for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“He is doing a fabulous job,” said Chez. “I watched (American actor) Sean Penn in an interview and he said, ‘This man was born for the moment.’ And I believe it.”
After the flag was raised, the Ukrainian national anthem was sang and a moment of silence for those killed since the Feb. 24 invasion was observed. Well-known Ukrainian community member Andrea Malysh also addressed the crowd.
Malysh ended her brief speech with a notice that Vernon’s legendary Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble will host a #StandwithUkraine humanitarian aid fundraiser.
The event will be Saturday, March 19, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at City Dance Studio (4411-29th Street). Sponsors include Backroads Brewing Co., City Dance Studio and DJ’s Perogie Kitchen. Cash or cheque donations will be accepted for the Canada-Ukraine Foundation Humanitarian Appeal.
Beverages and kielbasa will be available, and Ukrainian music will be provided by Vic Ukrainetz and Friends.
Email Sadok@shaw.ca or call Malysh at 250-309-6948 for more information.
Coldstream administrator Trevor Seibel said the Ukrainian flag will replace the District of Coldstream flag at the Cenotaph for about three weeks. It flies beside the Canadian and B.C. flags.