For the past six days, second-year Brock University Concurrent Education student Natalie Dlugosz has been glued to her phone, watching the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
“It has been really hard. This has been an ongoing issue for years, but since Thursday it has really hit home,” says Dlugosz. “It’s really scary.”
Born in Canada to Ukrainian parents, the 19-year-old student has long supported the people and culture of Ukraine.
After attending the Ukrainian-focused St. Sofia elementary school in Mississauga, Dlogosz became part of the Ukrainian Youth Association, helping to prepare educational lessons for kids and serving as a summer camp counsellor.
“There’s a very strong Ukrainian community in Ontario,” says Dlogosz, who is fluent in English and Ukrainian.
Like many other young Ukrainians, Dlogosz has been following the war through social media as much as the credible news sources she pays attention to.
“A lot of my day is spent keeping up with the news stories and spreading the information on my own Instagram account,” she says.
On Sunday, she was part of a March in Toronto that drew some 30,000 people who stood in support of Ukraine.
“It was incredible and really amazing,” she says. “Nobody wants this war. We all just want peace and everyone understands that, but some action has to take place.
“Ukraine needs more resources. They need equipment and weapons so they can protect themselves. It was pretty evident that something violent was going to happen and I wish these supports would have been sent earlier.”
She’s hoping people around the world will also provide humanitarian supports through donations of clothing, hygiene products and food, all of which she fears will become scarce.
The Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union has provided a number of suggestions for how Canadians can follow what’s happening and support those in the Ukraine:
- Follow reputable news sources and share stories to social media.
- Check in with Ukrainian peers to show support during a difficult time.
- Join rallies that are taking place across the country and around the world.
- Don’t blame the Russian people, as the actions of Vladimir Putin don’t reflect the views of all Russian people.
- Donate to trusted organizations, such as to the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal through the Canadian Red Cross.
The conflict in Ukraine is troubling for many members of our community, and Brock stands with its Ukrainian and Russian communities. The University has extensive mental health and wellness resources available to all Brock students and employees to help navigate this difficult time.
Students can call 1-833-276-2533 for personal counselling or 001 416 382 3257 if outside of North America.
Immediate and confidential Employee and Family Assistance Program services are available to all Brock University employees 24-7 through LifeWorks by calling 1-844-880-9137.
LifeWorks has also opened a 24-7 Community Crisis Support Line available to the public. By calling 1-844-751-2133, individuals will receive professional emotional support and/or referral to community resources.