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Metro Vancouver eateries raise $10,000 for humanitarian aid in Ukraine

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New Westminster, B.C. -

With multiple family members trapped in Mariupol, a city under siege in Ukraine, Sergiy Kuznietsov is having a hard time concentrating on running the three Ukrainian eateries he and his wife own and operate in Metro Vancouver.

“It’s difficult to get things done. It’s difficult, especially, since we are here, we are not in Ukraine, right? It creates a certain level of, ‘OK, should we go there? Shall I join the fight?’” said Kuznietsov, co-owner of Kozak Ukrainian Eatery, who spoke to CTV News at the New Westminster location.

For now, he and his wife, who moved to B.C. from Kyiv together a decade ago, have chosen to stay here and raise money for Ukraine at their eateries.

All proceeds from some baked goods and lunchtime bowls of borscht are being donated. The eateries are also selling blue-and-yellow Ukraine-themed items and collecting cash donations from customers. So far, $10,000 has been raised for an aid group on the ground in Ukraine.

“We know where the money goes, we know when we transfer the money that every single cent will make it to the actual person who needs it,” said Kuznietsov.

He says there is another way Metro Vancouverites can help Ukrainians living here.

“If you want to support your local Ukrainian businesses, just go and talk to them. If they want to talk about it, right? That’s the best kind of support,” said Kuznietsov.

The bakery is one of Andrii Zhevrovskyi’s favourite spots. On Wednesday, he came to talk with Kuznietsov. Both men have family in the warzone.

“My mom is there hiding in a basement because there is bombing over there. It’s a huge stress for my family, for my kids, my wife in Vancouver,” said Zhevrovskyi.

Kuznietsov can relate. He hasn’t heard from his family members in Mariupol in 12 days.

“There is super limited water connection there, so people are dying of thirst,” he said.

He fears the worst, but is trying to remain hopeful.

While it’s been difficult to keep working while his relatives are under attack back home, Kuznietsov has found purpose in fundraising and giving emotional support to his fellow Ukrainian Canadians.

“When you do something and when that something at least somehow helps people in Ukraine, then at least you feel Iike you’re not just sitting there,” he said.  

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