Monday September 25, 2023 | COLWOOD, BC [Last updated September 27, 2023 – the SD62 board at their Sept 26 board meeting tabled the motion for this exchange student trip, pending more information ]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Four Grade 11 students in Ukraine will make their way to the tranquility of south Vancouver Island next spring.
In spring 2024, the students will be hosted by the Sooke School District (SD62) and the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre for a three-week period, including a two-week immersion program at Edward Milne Community School (EMCS).
The students will be staying at a property in East Sooke called Eagle Ridge, and will be transported by SD62 school buses to attend classes at EMCS in nearby Sooke.
The experience is expected to be life-changing for the students who will have the opportunity to travel to Canada, attend school here, live with a West Shore family, and make life-long connections with students their own age. The students have been through “a horrific and unjust experience”, said SD62 Chair Amanda Dowhy said at the podium today.
Dowhy touched on some SD62 board history: that late last school year the board passed a motion to develop a global stewardship program “to help our own students learn more about the world around them”.
“We are in awe of the commitment to education in Ukraine despite significant challenges for rolling blackouts, to working in bomb shelters, to food shortages.”
She hopes the students visiting in the west shore will experience the generosity of the local community. during which time she hopes that will experience “friendship, adventure and peace”.
Third trip to Ukraine:
Meanwhile, a Langford-based team will make their third trip to Ukraine this fall, to deliver children’s backpacks to the Hope Foundation Ukraine displaced family enter in Poland. That transition facility is a temporary shelter for women and children seeking refuge in other countries. The backpacks are filled with ‘comfort’ items for the children.
Medical and technical:
The group will also deliver:
- 14 pallets of medical supplies and equipment for distribution to hospitals throughout western Ukraine (the materials are enroute)
- 15 laptops to one of the regional hospitals in Ukraine to access centralized medical information and keep enhanced patient data.
- 500 used electronic notebooks to students who are unable to study at schools
- A school bus that will be purchased in Poland, to transport students from schools that don’t have bomb shelters (basements), to schools that do.
Fundraising in the west shore:
At this time, the group hopes to raise an additional $50,000 for the purchase of additional supplies. The purchase will be made by GlobalMedic and distributed by Ukraine Medicine in Action. Donations may be done online on GoFundMe* or at the Langford Fire Hall.
As of 10 pm September 25, the Help the Langford Global Medic Project – Ukraine GoFundMe Page posted by Colwood Councillor Ian Ward has raised $4,350 of the $50,000 target.
The travel dates and locations are being kept under wraps for security reasons.
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Who was there:
Helping to facilitate public awareness of all this today was a group of local leaders who hosted a brief media event at City of Colwood municipal hall this morning.
City of Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi, Colwood City Councillor Ian Ward, SD62 board chair Amanda Dowhy, SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson, and Colwood’s Acting Mayor David Grove were there together with the team that will head to Ukraine on its third mission: former Langford fire chief (and former SD62 trustee) Bob Beckett, retired RCMP Staff Sgt Bruce Brown (a Colwood resident), and CTV reporter Brenda Strain.
Beckett thanked SD62 Superintendent Stinson for his “leadership on the global front”.
Michael Peirone and Kelly Knights from the Victoria Hand Project attended today. Christine Veroy (a member of the Ukraine team) was not on hand today.
Surgeon on hand:
A Ukrainian surgeon — Dr Oleg Atamanyuk — was at the Colwood event today, who explained to Island Social Trends how Ukrainian surgeons and other doctors are assigned to hospitals while military doctors are assigned to the front lines of combat. He and his wife are both surgeons from Ukraine.
Dr Atamanyuk said that Canada is like “a second home” to Ukrainians who have left their war torn country. “Supporting the community and school and the medical hospital is extremely important,” said Dr Atamanyuk at the podium. He said that orthopedic surgeons in Ukraine appreciate the donation of equipment and other supports.
“With your support I hope we win the war in this region (of Ukraine),” he said.
He showed those gathered an orthopedic drill set that will be used at a children’s hospital in Ukraine.
Beckett gave a shout-out to Arbutus Medical in Vancouver who donated the drill and we made up the difference by providing some additional support.
Colwood Councillor Ian Ward will be coordinating fundraising efforts in the west shore leading up to deployment of the team that will head overseas: Beckett, Brown and Strain.
Ward told Island Social Trends that when in Ukraine on business in April 2022 he happened to be there when the war broke. He saw women and children waiting for trains with only suitcases and having left husbands and families behind. This struck him deeply as a situation that required humanitarian support.
Colwood now has a sister-city partnership with a city in Ukraine. In-kind and moral support is being provided by the City of Colwood to the Langford GlobalMedic Project.
Beckett explained that in June 2022 — under directional leadership of then-mayor Langford Stew Young — the Ukraine support team distributed over $400,000 worth of food through GlobalMedic and Ukraine Medicine in Action. They established a number of community relationships with four communities in western Ukraine.
In February 2023 the second deployment provided rescue equipment and medical equipment including orthopedic drills supplied by a Vancouver company, to various hospitals in Ukraine.
Today’s pitch from the Ukraine group lead Bob Beckett was for media support to help the group raise another $50,000. The group holds various fundraisers and initially reached out directly to the local business community for financial support.
===== RELATED ARTICLES by ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
- Thin line between school district & Langford Ukraine mission (February 14, 2023)
- SD62 board has not approved student exchange with Ukraine (January 13, 2023)
- SD62 sends Ukraine project idea to committee (December 14, 2022)
- Langford mayor heading to Ukraine with GlobalMedic team (June 8, 2022)
- Langford achieves $50,000 fundraising goal for Ukraine (May 6, 2022)
- Support for Ukraine in Langford (April 5, 2022)
- Canadians offering support for Ukraine (February 26, 2022)
- Streamline and speed up handling of Ukraine refugees says NDP (February 25, 2022)
- Ukraine situation reminds Canadians about freedom (January 27, 2022)
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Covering news of the west shore region since 2008. Daily news posts onine at IslandSocialTrends.ca since mid-2020. Island Social Trends is independent journalism — advertising and subscribers welcome. This publication evolved from a series of print publications: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020) — print editions archived at the Sooke Region Museum.
Founder, Editor and Publisher of that full series of publications is Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR.
This year Mary P Brooke was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation award for a woman who contributes to her community through journalism.
Ms Brooke now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery. Her home-based publishing business is located in Langford, BC.
In 2022, Mary Brooke ran for school trustee in SD62 (Belmont Zone – Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands).