Vancouver Islanders are doing what they can to help the people of Ukraine

Vancouver Islanders are watching from afar, trying to process what’s happening in Ukraine and offering as much support as they can.

Friday night close to 250 people turned out to a candlelight vigil in French Creek and in Nanaimo, a Canadian of Polish descent has spearheaded a fundraiser to help the people of Ukraine.

Hosted by St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian-Orthodox Church, people came to pray and process the devastation of the war.

Marika Gray is among them. She was six when her family de ella left Ukraine for Canada.

“However our families are there and living through this and going through this so it makes my heart sick just to watch what is going on there,” said Gray.

Gray says her spirits were buoyed by the turnout.

In Nanaimo, Dominik Modlinski who was born and raised in Poland before coming to Canada in 1986 says he’s also feeling devastated about the war.

“One of the sayings I grew up with is “never trust Russians.” It’s in my psyche. It’s not the Russian people. It’s the Russian government,” Modlinski said.

Modlinski felt compelled to do something. In talking with the other martial arts sensei where he trains they decided to raise funds.

“For the Dominican Order in Poland and Ukraine. [It’s] a religious order that’s working right on the ground in Kyiv and Mariupol especially with kids up there and feeding the territorial defense forces of Ukraine,” said Modlinski.

“First words out of my mouth were ‘Yes, let’s make it happen.’ I think that was two days ago and since then we’ve put together the connections he has in Poland and in Ukraine and we’ve already started sending funds over there,” said Kurt Nordli, Sensei and Owner of Shima Karate Nanaimo.

Those connected to Shima Karate have already kicked in $3,500.

Modlinski, an accomplished artist, is also donating proceeds from the sale of his prints.

“We need to sometimes put our paintbrushes aside and look at what’s happening to the world and how we as Canadian artists, voice our opposition to the evil that’s happening,” said Modlinski.

It’s a position that’s been echoed by artists across the country.

Modlinski says martial arts is about self-defense and protecting those who are weaker which is the same spirit of this fundraiser. He’s urging other martial artists and those in the greater community to contribute.

Find a link to the fundraiser here.

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