There wasn’t a time on Friday night (March 11) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. when Penticton’s Barking Parrot wasn’t filled to capacity.
With Ukrainian music blaring on the speakers and staff proudly waving the country’s flag, the local pub made it known that they stand with Ukraine. Hundreds of Pentictonites did the same, as evident with Friday night’s barbecue fundraiser in support of the nation and the final donation count — $26,100.
Seeing the long lineup of people waiting to get inside the pub to donate and show their support was especially special for one woman, who moved from Ukraine to Kelowna in 2016 for post-secondary education.
“This is unbelievable, I have tears in my eyes,” said Svitlana Shkyn, the sales manager at the Lakeside Resort.
“We feel that support, the kind words and how people are standing with the country. Ukrainian people really appreciate that.”
Shkyn just visited her parents and brother in Ukraine in January, after making the move of her life five years ago when Canada officially became her permanent home.
While her brother remains on the ground fighting in the country’s defense force, contact with her parents has been limited over the last two weeks as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“I haven’t talked to my mom in two days because there is no electricity right now,” she said.
“I just wake up in the morning and see a message from her saying they’re alive and that they’re trying to escape the city.”
The Western News learned on Saturday morning (March 12) that the barbecue raised a total of $26,100, through Shkyn’s confirmation.
“Instead of crying on the pillow, this is what we can do…support financially and stay active,” she said while watching hundreds walk through the Barking Parrot’s doors in support of her home country.
Later on in the night, the National Anthem of Ukraine was sung by a local woman on the bar’s stage.
Lynne Leydier hadn’t recited the words to the nation’s anthem since she visited her family in Ukraine shortly after it became an independent country over 30 years ago.
“Svitlana’s family is in the direct line of fire right now and we’re here supporting her family and all of Ukraine,” Leydier said.
“She asked me to sing and I said I would.”
South Okanagan — West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings also took in all of the festivities on Friday night and took a moment to reflect on how many people in the community have rallied for Ukraine over the last two weeks.
“It’s very heartening, but not surprising,” he said.
“People really wanted that opportunity to support the Ukrainian people in any way they can and this is a great way to do that.”
The barbecue was by donation, with the over $26,000 raised set to go to on-the-ground aid in Ukraine.
“Support, love and kindness is what we need,” Svitlana said on a microphone in front of hundreds of Pentictonites.
“Rise up for humanity, for freedom and for peace.”