If you’re a Canadian concerned about the escalating war in Ukraine, you’re not alone — and you can help.
On Feb. 24, Russian forces, under the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin, invaded Ukraine — a long-standing ally of Canada — in one of the largest assaults on a European country by another since World War II.
The Russian attack has hit Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, and the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, as well as numerous cities and villages in the south of Ukraine. Amid the siege, more than half a million civilians have fled Ukraine for neighbouring nations like Poland and Romania, according to a statement from a UN official on Feb. 28. Due to a ban on male citizens of military age (18 to 60) leaving the country, those fleeing have been largely women and children. Further complicating global tensions, Putin responded to subsequent economic sanctions imposed by Western nations with implied threats of escalating to nuclear conflict on Feb. 27.
For Canadians, whether we have personal ties to Ukraine (as many Canadians do, with about 1.4 million Canadians having Ukrainian ancestry) or not, it can be challenging to know what to do right now. While the situation continues to unfold, there are ways for Canadians to help support Ukraine and the Ukrainian community.
Why is this conflict in Ukraine happening?
The origins of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine are incredibly complex and go back nearly a century, marked by events including the Holodomor (or Great Famine) of 1932–1933 and the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Put very simply, Ukraine is considered strategically important (and is also vulnerable) to Russia, because it physically separates Russia and the European Union. The country is also resource rich and a recurring target of conflict for President Putin.
Stay informed and stop the spread of disinformation
One of the first things Canadians can do right now is to learn about the conflict from credible sources and stay informed, raise awareness and educate others.
By spreading factual information from credible news sources — and by shutting down and stopping the spread of disinformation and propaganda from bad actors — Canadians can help disarm dangerous misinformation, which, when left unchecked, may further harm Ukrainians, as well as the Russian people.
How can you know if a news source is credible? As Forbes outlines here, you can assess a source’s credibility by asking yourself with a few questions before believing or sharing:
- “Do I recognize this source?”
- “Does this information seem balanced, accurate and up to date?”
- “Would I feel comfortable sharing this directly with my boss?”
- “Are there other reputable people that I trust sharing this source?”
- “Does this source cite primary sources?”
Be an active ally
Beyond staying informed on the crisis, Canadians can also look for ways to use their voices to support Ukraine. Strategies could include:
- Attending local rallies supporting Ukraine. Organizers across Canada are holding rallies to show their support for the people of Ukraine.
- Contacting your local Member of Parliament via mail or email to voice your support for Canada standing with Ukraine. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress offers more information and a template to consider here, and you can search for your MP here.
- Sign petitions. Look for petitions supporting Ukraine that you align with, and consider adding your name..
- Reaching out to your Ukrainian friends and family members. Even if you personally don’t have ties to Ukraine, you likely have friends or extended family members who do — and they might be suffering. Reaching out to show your care and support for these people in your life is a small step that can make a big impact on individuals.
If you are active on social media, you can also use your voice to show support for Ukraine online — especially if you are able to help share legitimate news sources and resources. In addition to helping to spread awareness, this can also be a simple way to show support for friends and family members impacted by the crisis.
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Support humanitarian efforts and/or make a donation
Funds are needed to support Ukraine and Ukrainian people, and Canadians with the ability to do so can help by making financial donations.
Before making a donation, however, make sure to vet any associations and organizations you are considering to ensure they are legitimate. Researching potential charities and/or visiting a site like CanadaHelps.org, which connects donors with charities, can help ensure your donations go towards the people and places you intend them to. Crowdfunding campaigns may have more flexibility to fund specific causes quickly, however it can be much more difficult to track the accountability of a crowdfunded campaign than a registered charity — so they should be vetted carefully before you donate.
Unfortunately, during times of crisis, bad actors may look to take advantage of peoples’ concern and generosity with things like fake crowdfunding campaigns. If the organization is a charity, for example, you can check that they are verified as a registered charity. You may also want to verify the plans for how funds raised will be distributed.
What can Canadians keep in mind when discussing the invasion?
During a time of intense crisis like the current conflict in Ukraine, it can be tempting to try to understand a complex and horrifying situation with a quick, perfunctory response. This, however, can actually do a greater disservice to the wide berth of victims who deserve our attention.
One thing to remember is that the conflict at hand arose from the direction of the Russian president — and not the people of Russia. Placing blame for Putin’s actions on an entire nation or nationality of people can cause xenophobic antagonism and further conflict over a war that many Russians oppose. This is where staying informed by credible sources can be especially useful. Instead of being swayed by propaganda, learning the facts and developing a stronger media literacy may strengthen understanding of the situation and help clarify the source of conflict.
Moreover, it’s also important to consider all of the people negatively impacted by the crisis in Ukraine — including people of colour. As the crisis in Ukraine has unfolded this week, it has revealed troubling instances of racism. Specifically, reports have surfaced of African students and African residents of Ukraine being subjected to racist treatment, such as being deprioritized when attempting to cross the border and flee the war.
Resources to support Ukraine:
At this time of crisis, there are many places where you can focus your time, attention and assistance if you want to support Ukraine. We’ve rounded up some places to get you started, and encourage further research.
Organizations to support:
- Canadian Red Cross
- Canada-Ukraine Foundation
- Doctors Without Borders
- Meest Corporation Inc.
- Save the Children Canada
- Ukraine Support Fund
- UNICEF Canada
- UN Refugee Agency
- Voices of Children
- Resources to support the Ukrainian military
Related resources and articles for further reading:
- “Canada’s response to the crisis in Ukraine,” Government of Canada
- “Immigration measures for people affected by the situation in Ukraine,” Government of Canada
- “Why you should say ‘Ukraine’ not ‘the Ukraine,’” Global News
- “Ontario wants to welcome Ukrainian refugees with jobs and settlement: Ford,” CP24
- “Russia is Now Blocking Twitter,” VICE
Related social media resources:
- @trippin.world — Consolidation of sources for supporting marginalized people in Ukraine
- @thrillsseekher — Consolidation of resources for African students fleeing Ukraine
- @dog_sheltr_ochererino — Help for abandoned Ukrainian dogs
- @sukuntherapy — Ontario-based therapy offering sessions for Ukrainians over 15 living in Ontario