Laughter and Ukrainian chatter filled the Vernon Elks Lodge #45 on Saturday, January 7th, 2023, with over 140 people celebrating Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas together. VDICSS hosted the event to support the over 200 Ukrainian newcomers that have moved into our community since war broke out last year. The event was funded by United for Ukraine Local Love Fund by United Way BC, along with a generous donation from Butcher Boys to cover food costs, and the ongoing support of the Elks Hall to provide a safe and welcoming space to bring community together.
Ukrainians and other community members, including host families, and VDICSS staff, volunteers, and board members contributed their own traditional dishes to the Christmas feast as well. Gifts for families and cultural offerings were shared among the guests. In honour and respect for their homeland, and to recognize all the soldiers and loved ones still there, we all took a moment of silence, and the Ukrainian national anthem was played. An opening song and prayer started the dinner off, and we closed the event with Ukrainian Christmas carols sung in both Ukrainian and English.
“It’s so important to bring new Ukrainians in our city together to help them feel connected and supported during this first holiday season they are spending away from their homeland,” said Anetha Kashuba, Community Connections Coordinator for VDICSS. “Canada stands behind Ukraine; and this event exemplifies this statement in how much our community values and cares for its newest residents."