New West Ukrainian church collects shoes to honour war victims

The Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church in New Westminster held a vigil to commemorate the victims and survivors of the attack on a Mariupol Theater.

Two weeks ago, hundreds of people taking refuge in the Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama fell victim to a brutal bombing of what they thought was a safe place.

Father Mykhialo Ozorovych of the Ukrainian New West Church says despite the horror in Ukraine, the community has come together more than ever before.

“We have this beautiful saying that a grief or hardship that is shared is half of that hardship, and joy that is shared is double the joy, so that’s why we come together,” Ozorovych told CityNews.

On Saturday, MP Peter Julian and the Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church gathered community members to collect and display shoes in honour of those who were in the attack.

According to a statement from the church, “this shoe memorial will be the first in Canada,” to honour Ukraine war victims.

Similar to the vigils for the children killed at Residential Schools, the shoes act as a symbol to humanize the victims and represent the innocent lives lost.

Ozorovych says since the beginning of the invasion the local Ukrainian community has joined forces to ease the burden of those still in Ukraine either fleeing or fighting.

“Our church has been very active from the very first day of Russian invasion. We have spent close to $100,000 supplies that we bought here and delivered there. We have established a task force, we hired professionals for us to help establish resettlement program in British Columbia.”

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Members of the Ukrainian and wider community attended, including students and parents from Ridne Slovo, a Ukrainian school.

“You can sympathize with them and send your condolences but that’s no use you have to send practical help. So, I feel very positive that this can lead to more and more support for people who have been affected,” Ruby, an attendee of the vigil told CityNews.

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