Impact Stories

A Sense of Belonging & Tradition

United for BC's United for Ukraine Local Love Fund supported many events last year to connect displaced Ukrainians across the province,

For those who are forced to flee their home due to violent conflict and adversity, it means leaving everything they know and hold dear behind. This is an unimaginable condition to most people; often not knowing if they’ll ever will return or if there will be anything or anyone to return to. Regardless of where life’s winding road may lead, those who are displaced have had their lives changed irrevocably, which includes their sense of home and belonging.

It has been over a year since the escalated Russian aggression into Ukraine. With support from the Government of British Columbia, and in partnership with local agencies, United Way BC‘s United for Ukraine has helped welcome approximately 20,000 Ukrainians and supported their settlement into their new communities. Many have been unable to return home or immerse themselves in their culture as they once did, and feeling disconnected from their culture and traditions is something they continue to struggle with while they stay in BC.

For the past few months, United for Ukraine Local Love funds have supported 20 events across British Columbia, from Christmas concerts and traditional theatrical caroling (known as Vertep) to photo exhibitions and an English conversational and social club. Every event has served to further connect individuals to their communities and help them feel more at home.

Last year also saw an unprecedent number of events with professional singers, dancers, and actors who had newly arrived from Ukraine. Their passion and dedication to continue with their traditions and culture has fostered kinship even during impossible circumstances.

Below are just a few of highlights of how we supported displaced Ukrainians in feeling at home.

Ukrainian Christmas

United Way BC's United for Ukraine sponsored Christmas events to connect displaced Ukrainians.

“Thank you to everyone who gave the children a holiday feeling and emotions. Every time you visit such events, you feel as if you are returning home hearing your native language and seeing children’s smiles.” This was feedback we received from a mother, whose child was one of 83 children to attend the event, where 35 kilos of Ukrainian chocolate and gifts were handed out to children at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver for Christmas.

Another parent commented, “Thank you very much! It was incredible. You made a very nice Holiday for all of us. They gave us all VERY good and incredible emotions.”

Christmas events were also held in Victoria, Richmond, and New Westminster.

English Conversational & Social Club

Volunteers for United Way BC's United for Ukraine hosted virtual Conversational English classes connecting Ukrainians across the province.

United Way BC volunteers, Jenny and Kabrea, began a new English Language Conversational Club in November 2023 and were soon joined by new volunteer, Soomin, from Prince George. The free program meets virtually twice a week and is bringing together approximately 180 Ukrainian participants who want to improve their English proficiency and fluency.

”Thank you very much for the wonderful meeting,” said participant Anna. “It was really useful and interesting. Thank you very much for the study materials as well.”

L-R: Jenny, Kabrea, and Soomin host an English Conversational Club for Ukrainians across the province.


My name is Jenny. I am an English Language teacher. I feel honoured and privileged to be a part of the English Language Conversation and Social Club sponsored by the United Way. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some dynamic, determined and lovely Ukrainian persons. I am eager and look forward to cross-cultural experiences and supporting these lovely people achieve their goals.


I am currently in my undergrad majoring in Speech Sciences, in hopes of completing my masters in Speech Pathology. As someone who knows what it is like to move to a new country while not understanding the language, it was my pleasure to agree to be a part of the conversation club! My goal is to help make a positive difference and encourage comfortability around speaking English in public and with one another!


As a prospective English language teacher, I believe in the transformative power of language in building bridges and creating a sense of community. This conversation group is a meaningful, significant initiative that works towards achieving those goals, in addition to fostering cross-cultural connections and empowering our participants. I am eager to contribute my insights and support to make this experience valuable and enriching for everyone involved.


United Way BC's United for Ukraine Local Love Fund supported several Vertep events, including Ukrainian puppet theatre.

Vertep is a venerable form of Ukrainian puppet theatre, dating to the late 16th century. Replete with a variety of characters, performances include a reenactment of the Nativity along with merry interludes.

Another version of Vertep is theatrical caroling, which usually focuses on social topics. This tradition draws on the language and culture of Ukraine and includes much preparation. The group chooses a leader to guide the group and wear traditional costumes during the performance. For Ukrainians, caroling is more than singing Christmas songs, it is folk theatre.

Recent newcomers to BC brought Vertep to Richmond and New Westminster during the winter holidays to bring together audiences in this important cultural event, all supported by United for Ukraine Local Love Fund.

Traditional Doll Making Workshop

Several traditional workshops, sponsored by United Way BC's United for Ukraine, were held over the past few months.

Led by professional artist, Svitlana, two workshops (one for adults, one for children) were held to create traditional straw and fabric dolls. Adults at the New Westminster workshop had an opportunity to create a traditional goat doll, while children had fun making articulated dolls out of paper.

Dance, Dance, and More Dance!

The dance group Mirya wearing costumes supported by United Way BC's United for Ukraine Local Love Fund.

Ukrainian dancing is a long-held tradition that many people recognize, especially because of the beautiful the costumes! United for Ukraine was delighted to support the new adult dance team, Mriya, with costumes delivered from Ukraine.

Adults in East Vancouver also had an opportunity to learn traditional dancing through free Ukrainian dance classes organized by Ukraïna.

One of the participants, Liliia, appreciated the opportunity, “I am grateful for the chance to learn Ukrainian dance. I enjoy the process and our people during the class. Yuliia teaches very well and explains many important things. I believe that together we will create great performance. Thank you Yevgeniya for organizing our community.”

United Way BC's United for Ukraine Local Love Fund supported traditional Ukraine dance classes.

Sergiy was also pleased that the dance class was offered, allowing him to feel connected with his community. “Ukrainian dance in Canada, near me? No way!? This is the first thing came to my mind, but with United Way BC that became real. During lessons, which remind me of my school time where I was a part of dancing class for years, I feel connection with our culture. Most importantly, it allowed me to be connected with Ukrainian community. Lots of positive words can be written but none of them truly can express internal feeling. I really appreciate United Way BC for their hard work to gathering people and provide wide opportunities to open personality locked inside of us.”

More Events!

Other events supported by United for Ukraine include:

  • A celebration of Independence Day was held in Stanley Park. The day’s activities included a concert, lottery, prizes, and refreshments.
  • Film screening and Q&A of “Family Matter” with Director Valeriy Blayan.
  • Anna Sagalova, a professional virtuosi pianist, delighted audiences with a free concert.
  • Numerous Christmas events, including in Victoria and Comox.
  • A series of art classes for children in Vancouver.

Some events are still happening or scheduled to take place this year!:

  • Ukrainian Museum opening in Vancouver.
  • Photo and Video exhibit, Malanka, running from March 29-31 at The Gallery at Queens Park, New Westminster
  • Embroidery workshop in Vancouver
  • Easter egg workshop and easter hunt in Smithers
  • Easter event in Kelowna