Orest Lawryniw of Timmins last visited Ukraine in 2000, and still has cousins, an uncle and several friends there, with whom he communicates.
He says they were shocked at the Russian invasion, but are now resolved to stand up for their country.
He says seeing events like vigils online provides moral support and lifts spirits.
“Ukraine is usually a very peaceful nation, but this has awakened the fighter in the Ukrainian people,” Lawryniw remarks. “As you can see, a lot of them are going back to fight. It’s pride in the country right now.”
Lawryniw says a great source of that pride is Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.
As he emcees the Hollinger Park vigil on Wednesday night, his message to the people of Ukraine will be one of hope and support; and to not blame the Russian people for the war.
“This is not their fight,” Lawryniw says emphatically. “This is the fight of the government, of Putin and he’s causing all the problems for not just Ukraine and the rest of he world, but for his own country also.”