Sergiy Ivanyuk woke up every night for the first 10 nights. Sergiy Ivanyuk didn’t sleep for the first 10 nights.
He gets up from his sleep and checks his phone every morning to see the most recent updates.
He said, “You just shake.” “It’s terrible.”
After running practices for the junior hockey Vegreville Vipers, Ivanyuk was fresh on the ice. Mykyta Protsenko (20 year old) is the team captain. Her sister remains in Ukraine. The tight-knit group of 5,700 people who have strong ties to Ukraine are trying to get her out.
The war in Ukraine is not solved by hockey. It has caused anger, disbelief, and grief in Northern Alberta, which is one of the largest centers of Ukrainian culture and heritage. Hockey isn’t going to solve their problems or end the war that has raged in Northern Alberta, home of Ukrainian heritage and culture. It is the backbone of the community.
Protsenko, a Kharkiv native who plays in the Can-Am Junior Hockey League, said that sometimes it is hard. “Sometimes you’re focused, sometimes you’re not. It all depends. Each day is different. Everybody can help in any way they can.
Hockey is a welcomed fixture in Alberta’s Ukrainian-Canadian communities. NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and youth leagues all play the Ukrainian national anthem. They also raise funds for humanitarian and military aid and try to make the most of the sport.
Tina Warawa, president of the minor hockey association in Vegreville, asked members of the under-18 team if they would be able to play the Ukrainian anthem at games. She noticed that a few players were tearing up as they listened to the song.
They said, “We get to be here today at our age and enjoy hockey and this game. She recalled that there are children in Ukraine of the same age as her who have taken up arms and are fighting for their country and lives. They are able to see the gravity of the situation.
Protsenko is joined by half a dozen other Ukrainian-born players in the Vipers. Warawa and local officials are trying to find a way for Protsenko’s 16 year-old sister to come to Canada. Bryan Brown, Vipers general manager, stated that “we really don’t have any idea what to do but support him.”
Protsenko’s main focus is on sharing information and fighting misinformation online.
It’s so strange to see your home being bombed. You’re watching the news, and it’s like I’ve been there. He said, “Oh, that’s my friend’s house.” “Or I have been walking there with my grandmother. It’s quite strange to see this, and it’s very frightening.
Ivanyuk claimed that he had seen video of a missile-hit area in Kyiv, which was the home to the arena where Ivanyuk began his hockey career.
He said, “I was just crying.”
The 44-year old’s escape is coaching.
Ivanyuk stated, “When you’re on ice, you just focus on hockey.” You just enter a new world and put all your worries aside. When you’re done, you can come back to work, think, help others, and so on.
Ivanyuk, a Ukrainian-Canadian who arrived in Edmonton in April 2011, with very little money and no English proficiency, knows more about the support provided by the community of Ukrainian-Canadians in Alberta. He lived in his car, endured freezing temperatures, and read books to learn Ukrainian. When he sought help at the local Ukrainian church, he was met with open arms.
He found work in Calgary within a week of his arrival. He now gives advice to young Ukrainians moving there and coaches hockey.
He said, “The entire community is so tight.” It’s a small community, so everybody knows everyone.
Edmonton’s Ukrainian community is located about an hour west of Edmonton on Alberta Highway 16A. It is much larger, but just as close.
The red and white maple leaf flags that fly in the wind along the route make it clear that this is Canada. However, every few kilometers, there are nods to the native land of many people in the region. A yellow sign that reads, “Stand with Ukraine” is located outside the Ukrainian Cultural Village’s gate. A single yellow and blue flag from Ukraine is visible on the snowy prairie at the edge of a farm just outside Edmonton.
Stawnichy’s Mundare Sausage House, in Calgary, is worried about Russia’s invasion. Everyone, including Colette Hennig, third-generation Ukrainian owner, and Kyler Zeleny, the restaurant’s employee, are concerned. Hennig, sitting in her office with Wayne Gretzky (who traces his family’s roots back to Ukraine), gathers pins scarves, candles and other items to sell. They’ve gone through every flag in the area.
Customers share stories about their family members and friends who fled to North America or Europe after being shot and bombed. Perogy poutine is the most Ukrainian-Canadian dish. Zeleny plans to rename it “Less Putin More Poutine”, with all proceeds going towards a humanitarian foundation.
Hennig said that staff had discussed it and agreed that it was even more difficult for them. He also stated that 10,000 has been raised to support efforts in Ukraine. It’s amazing to see how everyone is coming together. It’s just too bad it has to be like this.
The family bought Oilers tickets in the glory years of the franchise’s history, which included five Stanley Cup wins as the last true dynasty. Zeleny was ready to attend the game against the Washington Capitals and planned to boo Alex Ovechkin , who has long supported Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zeleny and his aunt aren’t going to blame Ovechkin. Ovechkin has limited his comments about Ukraine given the difficult situation the star winger was placed in with his family , including his children, parents, and wife in Russia. Rogers Place was booing every time Ovechkin touched a puck.
A suite that included members of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress was the source of loud jeers. It’s not Ovechkin who is the target of the vitriol, but rather the situation itself which has become a rallying place inside and outside of hockey rinks.
Orest Sklierenko, president of the foundation said that a lot of negativity and heartbreak and anger have been counterbalanced with this positivity. “And it’s all that we can do from this point to do these kinds of things.”
From Vegreville to Edmonton where war and its aftermath are part of many conversations, helplessness is a common emotion. Before facing the Capitals, the Oilers performed the Ukrainian anthem and had the Viter Choir and Folk Ensemble perform the Canadian anthem in English and Ukrainian.
Tim Shipton, executive vice president of communications and gaming at Oilers Entertainment Group, stated that the cause was important to him. His wife is Ukrainian.
Shipton stated, “We all know people from Ukraine — it’s so woven in the fabric of Northern Alberta.” “We wanted to do our little bit in showing our support.”
Zeleny and Ivanyuk are two of those who already look forward to the future and how the money raised will be used to rebuild Ukraine after the war, whenever that may be.
It’s about the present. That was evident during and after Kozak Hockey’s game after the invasion. The game was played against a rival and there were no penalties or cheap shots. There was also a lot of respect and reverence for the Ukrainian-Canadians.
“They said that they know we can play a certain way on ice, but this is incredible what’s happening,” Kozak player Matt Karpiak stated. They said that they felt for us and that they wish the best for our families.