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Newly-arrived Ukrainian family honoured by Carstairs parade recognition

In planning the 2022 Beef & Barley parade, the Carstairs Lions’ Club decided to honour Ukraine and Ukrainians during the event
MVT Carstairs Ukrainian family
Vasilii, Polina, Arina and Sofiia Rychkov, now living in Carstairs, share some smiles. Submitted photo

CARSTAIRS - A Ukrainian family that recent arrived in Carstairs after fleeing their war-torn homeland says they were honoured by the recognition paid to them during the recent Beef & Barley Days parade in Carstairs.

The Rychkov family arrived in Carstairs on July 9. The Carstairs Lions Club, which helps organize the annual town parade, is assisting the family with gift cards, bedding and other necessities.

“Arriving in Canada, we could not even imagine that we would be received so warmly,” Vasilii, Polina, Arina, Sofiia Rychkov said in an email to the Albertan. “We would like to express our gratitude to the Kuczak family who kindly agreed to host us and making our adaptation much easier. 

“We are also very grateful to the Lions Club who provided us with help and support at such a time.”  

In planning the 2022 Beef & Barley parade the Lions’ Club decided to honour Ukraine and Ukrainians during the event, said Carstairs Lions member Leslie Cunningham.

“At that time, we did not know that we would receive a family of four, mom, dad and two girls under 10, into Carstairs,” she said. 

“We had asked two local Ukrainian gentlemen to represent Ukrainians by being the parade marshals. We now had a family, so having only been here one week they were game to be in the parade.”

A colour party was provided by the Veteran Brotherhood on trikes, slingshots and motorcycles. They also provided a white convertible for the parade marshals and the family, she said. 

“As well, two granddaughters of a Lion’s member carried an eight foot-wide banner, in Ukraine colours of yellow and blue, with the Lions’ emblem and salute to Ukraine followed by a sunflower, the official flower of Ukraine,” she said.

“The Lions Club sold hand-held Ukrainian flags, donned the cars with full-sized Ukrainian flags, and asked the public to wear blue and yellow in honour of Ukraine, and especially in honour our local family, who each wore a sunflower pin.”

The Rychkovs rode in the parade, with spectators cheering them all along the parade route.

Lions Club International Foundation has been deeply involved helping to recognize the plight of Ukraine following the Russian invasion. There are eight Lions Clubs in Ukraine, as well as others in Poland and Romania. 

“Through Lions Club International Foundation food and medicine were taken in by Lions, even to the subway where thousands hid. As a club we were awed by the interviews with many Ukrainians, voicing their desire to fight for their homeland, showing patriotism, steadfastness, tenacity and many more values that we admired,” she said.

The Rychkovs say the work of Lions members and other supporters around the world has been heart-warming.

“We know that this organization has branches in Ukraine and actively involved in helping people there now,” they said. “Support and concern are very important in the difficult fight against injustice. There are protests around the world against the invasion and brutal war of aggression in Ukraine. 

“The more people that understand what is happening and speak out in support of Ukraine, the more chances there are to stop the ridiculous loss of life.

“Thank you from our family for the warm welcome and help. Thank you from our family for the compassion and support for our country.”