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Jasper Welcomes Ukraine: Rotary Club hosts dinner in support of Ukrainian refugees

Antonina Ya performs a ribbon dance during a fundraiser dinner in support of Ukrainian refugees at the Jasper Activity Centre on June 20. | P.Shokeir photos

Peter Shokeir |

Jasper welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms with a welcome event and dinner that also helped raise funds for the newcomers to help them get settled.

Jasper Welcomes Ukraine, hosted by the Rotary Club of Jasper, also included a silent auction and performances from Ukrainian talent—singer Karina Mahda and dancer Antonina Ya.

“We definitely really enjoyed the spirit of Jasper that came out in full force,” said Sue Cesco, co-president of the Rotary Club of Jasper.

“And we actually heard from many of the Ukrainians how they felt extremely welcomed and grateful for the community of Jasper and how everyone has been so supportive to them.”

The dinner featured traditional Ukrainian cuisine, including perogies, sausages, cabbage rolls and coleslaw.

To help raise funds, the Rotary Club also hosted a silent auction, and perogies and sausages could be ordered directly from Prairie Gourmet Perogies.

Residents also had the opportunity to donate directly.

Ukrainian singer Karina Mahda performs during the fundraiser dinner.

Although the final fundraising numbers weren’t available by press time, the silent auction raised about $10,000 as of Monday and an additional $4,000 was donated directly.

“(For) the dinner, we don’t know exactly where we landed yet, but we know we definitely accomplished our goals for building the spirit and the goodwill,” Cesco said.

Net proceeds will go to the Jasper Community Team Society, which is the point of contact for newcomers in Jasper, in order to help these refugees.

“For me, I’m just basking in the glow of the aftermath of all the people who came out and helped,” Cesco said.

“They donated something, or they showed up to help with the dishes or clear the tables. It was really an amazing coming together of people.”

Mayor Richard Ireland gave a formal welcome to Ukrainian refugees during the dinner.

“Jasper prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive community,” Ireland said.

“This evening, we gather to extend a really special welcome to a very special and very particular set of guests and have helped raise funds for the support of those newcomers who are in the community from the Ukraine who have been forced to flee their homeland as a result of a brutal war and have happily found safe haven in the warm embrace of our welcoming, caring community.”

Council proclaimed a “welcome” to Ukrainian newcomers during its June 7 meeting.

Editor’s note: Karina Mahda’s name has been corrected.

Volunteers serve up traditional Ukrainian cuisine.

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