On Friday, August 14, members of the Ukrainian Canadian community gathered in the foyer of UNF Hall at 145 Evans Ave. in Toronto to assemble 1,700 Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK’s) for Ukrainian soldiers. The effort was coordinated by Ukrainian Canadian Congress, including its Euromaidan Canada Committee, and Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
The organizers expected around 30 volunteers and that the task would take them from 9 am to 7 pm. The actual turnout approached 100 volunteers and the enthusiastic group, including many families and students, assembled the planned number of kits by 3 pm.
The IFAK units were purchased within the $1 million grant for Ukraine from the Canadian government announced earlier this year. The funding is administered by Global Medic (David McAntony Gibson Foundation), a Canada-based organization which provides emergency relief across the globe. Within the grant, Canada also delivered a mobile field hospital to Ukraine in July 2015.
Through the efforts of the volunteers that assembled the IFAK units, it was possible to provide an additional 300 units for the same money within the grant (for the total of 1,700 units). The assembled units were handed over to the Canadian Armed Forces which will distribute the units to Ukrainian troops as part of training mission of the Forces in Ukraine starting in September this year.
As John Holuk of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ Coordinating Council explained to the New Pathway, this is a very welcome and complimentary initiative to Patriot Defence, which is the Ukrainian World Congress’ important initiative that has already trained more than 20 thousand Ukrainian soldiers in using the IFAK’s that were distributed to them. The task of equipping and training the Ukrainian troops with IFAK’s remains a critical priority for the Ukrainian community.
The event was visited by Canada’s Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism, the Honourable Jason Kenney. Mr. Kenney was briefed by the UCC members and participated in assembling the units.
In his interview for Jurij Klufas of KONTAKT Ukrainian TV Network, Jason Kenney said that the $1 million grant for medical assistance is part of the assistance package that Canadian government has delivered to Ukraine in the past 1.5 years which has exceeded $700 million. According to Mr. Kenney, Ukraine is currently the only European country which is receiving overseas development assistance from Canada. Mr. Kenney expects that the IFAK’s and the corresponding training will help the Ukrainian forces to lower the casualty rate at the front in the Donbas, which has been “higher than normal for this kind of conventional combat.”
In the wake of the ceremony for the 2015 Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism which took place on August 4, Mr. Kenney praised Senator Paul Yuzyk for being “the father of multiculturalism”. He also said: “the Ukrainian Canadians are the inspiration of Canadian multiculturalism. They were the first minority community who were really determined to keep their cultural and linguistic identity in Canada, and you know why, because Ukrainians couldn’t do it in Ukraine. And now we are living in a time when in parts of Ukraine Ukrainians cannot be Ukrainians – in Crimea, in part of the Donbas. There is a connection between the identity and patriotism of Paul Yuzyk’s generation and what Canada is doing now to help Ukrainians be Ukrainian in Ukraine.”