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B.C. business invites Ukrainian moms, kids to relax and play at fundraiser


Alina Ivanet’s two little brothers, just seven and four years old, fled Ukraine last month with their mom, leaving their father, their friends, and the only home they’d ever known behind.

Now in B.C., the mom and two boys are facing an uncertain future. Trying to find a place to stay and a school to enroll in when they don’t speak English and are wracked with worry about the war is overwhelming.

“It's been pretty tough for everyone,” Alina tells CTV News Vancouver.

“They went to school, my mom went to work and now it's all gone. It's pretty hard to adjust for them in terms of everything, actually. It's like you have this whole life, and then you just had to leave your country. You don't know when you're going to come back, if ever. It's been hard.”

But this weekend, the boys got a break from all of that and took some time out just to play.

The family joined other Ukraininian mothers and children who have recently arrived in Metro Vancouver at Kidtropolis in Richmond.

President and CEO Ginny Lam says the news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing humanitarian crisis left her sad and angry. Then, she says she felt compelled to do something to try and help.

“We have a space here that we entertain children and families on a regular basis with birthday parties and drop-in play,” Lam explained.

“But we truly felt that perhaps these families needed a place to de-stress and just to have some fun and get away from the trauma that they may have received.”

In addition to opening up the sprawling indoor playground to newcomer families, Lam says she also wanted to invite locals and make the weekend a fundraiser.

“All of the community should step up and really just do their part. I hope that we inspire other businesses to do their part as well,” she says.

Partial proceeds from admission and money raised from a barbecue were donated to the Maple Hope Foundation’s Ukrainian Settlement Program. Families from around the region were asked to bring in-demand items like toiletries.

For families like Ivanet’s, the outpouring of support from individuals and organizations has been a relief during an incredibly stressful time.

“I'm really overwhelmed and thankful for every piece of help that people are providing as a community. I am really surprised by the amount of help I'm receiving from everyone. I'm really, really grateful.” 

With files from CTV News' Jim Fong Top Stories

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