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Ukrainian volunteers repay Canadian kindness by feeding West Kelowna wildfire crews

Frontline responders were treated to 160 authentic Ukrainian meals
Members of the Ukrainian Canadian Volunteer Association in the Central Okanagan display meals they prepare for frontline crews fighting the McDougall Creek wildfire. (Contributed)

Members of the Ukrainian Canadian Volunteer Association (UCVA) in the Central Okanagan have been busy cooking traditional Ukrainian food for frontline crews fighting the McDougall Creek wildfire.

Svitlana Shkyn of the UCVA, and Westside Salvation Army Coordinator Jennifer Henson, put a plan in place to cook and deliver 160 authentic Ukrainian meals that include borscht, nalysnyky (crepes) and fried stuffed buns to frontline first responders.

Eight Ukrainian families helped prepare the meals.

“The UCVA is assisting Canadians in West Kelowna during a disaster by arranging and offering delightful Ukrainian lunches, including Ukrainian borscht and other delectable treats,” said Shkyn.

She has worked with Bonnie Penner of Kelowna’s Bravery Foundation, a Canadian CRA-registered charity, over the past year and a half to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine and to support displaced Ukrainians relocating to the Okanagan.

Penner and Shkyn connected to expand the movement of Ukrainians giving back to the community that has supported them.

“We greatly appreciate all the support Ukrainian people get from the Canadian citizens,” added Shkyn. It is our time to pay back for all the great support we have received and continue to receive.”

Penner is also coordinating ‘Ukrainian Work Bees’ to help with property clean-up for the McDougall Creek, Walroy Lake and Clarke Creek fires.

She is also spearheading other initiatives with local organizations to help wildfire evacuees.

“My family and I were evacuated in the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Fire, and keenly understand what our community is going through,” said Penner.

According to a news release from the United Way, the event was spurred by a request from the Salvation Army, which is coordinating response efforts.

“Among those who prepared these nourishing meals are Ukrainian volunteers, some of whom are refugees themselves,” the release said. “Their journey has come full circle, having previously benefited from the United for Ukraine initiative spearheaded by United Way BC earlier this year.”

Donations to help pay for the ingredients for future meal preparation and other fire-related initiatives can be made to UCVA by e-transfer to

READ MORE: Structural damage assessment from McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna complete

READ MORE: More than 3,000 homes saved from McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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