This article originally appeared in the Delta Optimist on March 2, 2023.
On Friday, February 24, students at South Delta Secondary School (SDSS) demonstrated their support for Ukraine by marking the somber one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion.
“Many people may not realize that there are families in our community whose lives have been upended by the war in Ukraine,” said Sandra Adamson, International Student Coordinator and ELL Teacher. “Here at SDSS, we have 8 students who had to flee Ukraine. In recent weeks, these students, with support from the school’s Interact Club, organized a campaign to mark the one-year anniversary of the ongoing invasion to help raise awareness in the school and wider local community.”
This week, the Ukrainian flag stands beside the Canadian flag in the main hallway of the school and the students have made three different designs of buttons showing messages of support for Ukraine to hand out at the school. Grade 9 student Timur Kravitz, who just arrived in Tsawwassen a few weeks ago, is working on a fourth design.
“When the war first started, we never thought it would be as massive as it has become,” said Yuri Fedieiev. “People need to know what is happening in Ukraine. It feels like they have forgotten. We felt it was important to remind people that the war in Ukraine is still happening.”
Ihnat Smyrnov’s city was occupied on the second day of the invasion: “There were many soldiers and tanks. People were very nervous.” Ihnat and his father moved to Germany for one month initially, before arriving in Tsawwassen in May 2022.
“These students have been through unimaginable horrors and are now faced with the multiple challenges that come from adjusting to life in a new country and learning to speak English. They are extremely busy as most are completing online school courses in Ukraine while also attending SDSS so that they can graduate in both countries,” said Sandra Adamson. “In spite of this, they wanted to do something to support their home country at this difficult time. I am so impressed by their hope, courage and resiliency.”
“Canada is a lovely country and Tsawwassen is a great town. The community has been great to us,” said Yuri Fedieiev. “We would like to thank the Government of Canada for helping Ukraine and also thank our local community and school for accepting and helping us.”
The students are also encouraging people to support Ukraine by making donations directly to the Prytula Foundation: https://prytulafoundation.org/donation.