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Tree dedication upcoming in Comox to honour Ukrainian Independence Day

Steve Thiessen of the Comox Men’s Shed and Eugene Hrushowy of the Comox Valley Ukrainian Cultural Society with the tree that will be dedicated on Aug. 24 in commemoration of Ukrainian Independence Day. Photo supplied

It has been said that Ukrainian roots planted in the richness of Canadian soil flourish.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine over 18 months ago, 65 households comprising 170 Ukrainian newcomers have restarted their lives in the Comox Valley and Campbell River.

This coming Aug. 24 marks the 32nd anniversary of the Ukrainian Day of Independence. In recognition of that day and the continuing struggle for self-governance and democracy in Ukraine, at 3 p.m., an oak tree is being dedicated in Comox at McKenzie Park, 330 Quarry Road. The tree commemoration is co-sponsored by the Comox Men’s Shed and the Town of Comox.

This isn’t an indigenous varietal, but a Zaporizhzhya oak. As an acorn, it travelled from Ukraine to the Comox Valley in 2014 with Steve Thiessen of the Comox Men’s Shed, after the outbreak of the Russian invasion of the Crimean Peninsula. It was in turn gifted to the Town of Comox, and ultimately planted in McKenzie Park.

The Zaporizhzhya oak is Ukraine’s official historical tree. The mother tree in Ukraine is estimated to be more than 700 years old. Although in its last stage of life, with only one live remaining trunk, the mother tree has been dropping acorns, which is convincing evidence that the cycle of life is determined to continue.

The now-rooted seedling, like our newcomers from all over Ukraine, travelled to the Comox Valley from the Ukrainian province (Oblast) of Zaporizhzhya, which is in the southeast of Ukraine on the Dnieper River. The region of origin is Khortysyia Island. This Island was also the stronghold of the mighty Cossacks.

Fundraising concert

This last surviving seedling has been named the Tree of Welcome because it represents the warm support Ukrainian newcomers have been receiving from local communities for these last 18 months. This enduring support is being celebrated on Sept. 21 in the Comox Valley at the Sid Williams Theatre and in Campbell River at the Tidemark Theatre on Sept. 23 with fundraising concerts showcasing the renowned Junior Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Company from Calgary.

The concert, Still Standing With Ukraine, draws attention to the importance of supporting the ongoing needs of Ukrainian newcomers settling in our communities. Concert proceeds will be shared in the following ways amongst three partners: the Comox Valley Ukrainian Cultural Society, the Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Society, and the Ukrainian Nightingale Project.

The Comox Valley Ukrainian Cultural Society provided food security, seasonal clothing, medical and dental interventions, emergency financial assistance, welcome baskets, and funding for the Ukrainian integration co-ordinator.

The Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Society, from southern Alberta, assists families to find housing and employment opportunities as well as provides a safe haven for Ukrainian children and youth to learn English through interacting via dance.

The Ukrainian Nightingale Project, in the South Okanagan, assists families to make a smooth transition by accessing clothing, food, educational opportunities, medical and dental assistance and employment.

For more information go to the following websites: