CSUF would not be able to operate without the generosity of our many donors and volunteers. We are very grateful to all of you.
We would like to profile one of our donors, Svetlana Ischenko, and offer our thanks. Everyone has their own reason for supporting Ukraine through CSUF and this is Svetlana’s story.
Svetlana Ischenko is a Canadian citizen of Ukrainian background, a published poet, artist, teacher, and a former stage actress. She lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with her family. More info on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svetlana_Ischenko
1. What is your connection to Ukraine?
I immigrated to Canada from Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine, 22 years ago.
2. How has the Russian invasion of Ukraine affected you personally?
My relatives, friends, and colleagues still reside in Ukraine during the full-scale war that Russia unleashed. Some of my colleagues – actors and poets – serve in the Ukrainian Military Forces on the front lines (unfortunately, two of the Mykolaiv poets died – one died fighting on the frontlines, another died in the explosion of the Mykolaiv Administration building). Some are working as nurses and volunteers in Mykolaiv hospitals and as city workers. Some of my friends, who are teachers and academics, are continuing teaching students online even though the university buildings are ruined. Some are working in the Ukrainian government in Kyiv, making sure that Ukrainian language in our country will survive and strive for generations ahead. Some of them are preparing new performances in the Mykolaiv National Ukrainian Theatre (where I used to work before my immigration) to support the spirit of the Ukrainian people during this war and to make masking nets for the Ukrainian fighters. My relative in Ochakiv is working in the local administration to make sure that her city survives, has drinking water and has all the humanitarian aid, especially during the Russian bombings from the Black Sea (even though her own family lost their house in such attacks last year). My friends – visual artists and teachers from Drohobych Art School for Children in Western Ukraine – make international exhibits, festivals, and art conferences to attract attention to Ukraine’s needs in this war. They also donate a lot to the Ukrainian army.
My mom survived WWII as a child… and, now elderly, she is surviving this war with the help of my friends and colleagues in the everyday airstrikes on Mykoaiv city by Russian missiles and Iranian “Shahed” drones. My mom refused to come to us to Canada, saying, “What happens to the people here, it will happen to me.
3. What are your hopes for Ukraine in the future?
Oh, it’s not just a hope, it’s a strong belief that Ukraine will win the war and restore its territorial integrity and freedom, that it finally will have a deserved place in the EU, and that Ukraine will come out of this war even more united and progress-oriented country with solid, democratic European laws (Russia can only dream about to become such a country in a long time!). Russia is jealous of Ukraine’s natural resources and human resourcefulness!!! This war has awakened all the Ukrainians, made them stronger, united, and made them believe in themselves, made them self-reliant, and Ukrainians as a nation, knowing it, proven it to themselves over the second year of this war, will only continue to thrive through any difficulties that life can throw at them in the future.
4. Why do you support CSUF?
When I first contacted CSUF with a request from my friend, who is a Deputy Chief of Staff of the battalion on the frontlines of the war in Ukraine, to equip the whole platoon (41 persons!) with the basic tactical gear – CSUF did it as soon as possible. This generous gesture, just at the beginning of the war, was also a moral support for the whole platoon: the soldiers couldn’t believe that in a far-away, half-of-the-world across
the ocean Canada, Canadian people thought about them, donated the money and made it happen! It saved the soldiers’ lives and boosted their moral. Later on, CSUF helped to purchase a sophisticated drone for this platoon that, again, helped to save lives of many citizens of the Mykolaiv region and the soldiers of the platoon itself. Also, CSUF and a Ukrainian charity “Sviy za svogo” bought and transported an off-road SUV truck to the front lines in Zaporizhia region that improved mobility of the Ukrainian defenders there.
As a result of this, I wanted to support CSUF for all the work they have done for Ukrainian people and defenders and I came up with an idea to use my visual artwork to create a Fundraiser-Exhibition “My Connections: Ukraine – Canada” here, in North Vancouver at the Polygon Gallery on August 22, and it was a successful event. Here is a CBC Radio interview with me on the day of the event.
The war is not over yet. This winter, Russian forces are trying to destabilize Ukrainian power grids and electricity supply before by missile strikes, exactly as they did last year… but this year, Ukraine is more equipped with electric generators and Western support because of the donors and people in Canada who aren’t indifferent!
I support CSUF because I understand that support has to be a continuing support, we can’t stop until we reach the Ukrainian victory in this war… and also because the former head and creator of CSUF – Dale Shumka – became my friend and became a friend to many Ukrainian people and soldiers. He created the Canadian Support Ukraine Foundation (CSUF) right at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, in February 2022. Dale passed away on June 25 of this year but his legacy lives on through his Foundation and in the hearts of the Ukrainian soldiers. CSUF is the only Canadian foundation that operates right on the ground in Western Ukraine (not over the border with Poland or Romania!) by Andriy Dorosh in Lviv and, on the Canadian side, CSUF is in the strong hands of Dale’s daughter – Marnie Shumka.