Together in Song and Dance

Ottawa, Ukraine
Together in Song and Dance

Ottawa’s Latvian and Ukrainian joint fundraising event was a great success!

On March 2, Ottawa Latvians, in collaboration with Ottawa Ukrainians, organised a fundraising event called “Solidarity Through Song and Dance”. It took place in a Ukrainian church in cooperation with the Ukrainian Ladies Committee of the church.

The aim was to raise as much money as possible for three selected charities – Save Ukraine, BCU Foundation, with direct donations and proceeds from the directed to CanadaUkraine Foundation. On the Latvian side, Aija Auziņa and Sarma Merdian (who are also the LNAK representatives in Ottawa) took on the organisation and set-up.

Aija Auziņa used her public speaking skills and already established relationships in the Ukrainian community. Sarma coordinated everything and anticipated all needs down to the smallest detail, including coordination of volunteer work. There were many people involved, each doing their part. The result was a great event, lots of new friendships and money raised for Ukraine.

There was huge support from the Latvian community and other Ottawa and Toronto businesses who donated to the organisation and also supported the selected charities, with 26 sponsors in total. For example, the food for the event was prepared, including delicious soups and snacks, and to reduce the impact of food costs on the funds raised, the grocery stores approached as sponsors donated food for the cooking. Other supporters donated items for the lottery table, and we heard repeated praise that it was the best lottery table we had seen in a long time. All proceeds from the raffle table were donated to the BCU Foundation, totalling $2,200.

The event was hosted by the wonderfully harmonious duo of Ukrainian Mykhajlo Ryndzak and Latvian Aija Auziņa, who brought joy and humour to the audience when it was needed. A lively performance of dances and songs by Latvians and Ukrainians set a good mood for the whole evening, Ukrainians felt a much needed shoulder of support, and Latvians generously offered it. For the second part of the evening, the organisers had arranged DJ Moose from Montreal, who had prepared a repertoire of music from Latvia, Ukraine and other countries that support Ukraine. Attendees danced until midnight, with Latvian and Ukrainian dances. Many now call this event legendary.

During the evening we heard so many thanks from the Ukrainians, not only for the whole event, but also for the new energy we brought. Two years of war has drained everyone, especially the Ukrainians. So a big thank you to everyone who helped. Thank-you to our long list of sponsors. I would like to mention Daugavas Vanagi in Canada, who not only donated to the event, but also donated a significant amount to the CanadaUkraine Foundation, thank you!

Also Korp! Spīdolas donated directly to the CanadaUkraine Foundation. From Toronto, the Northern Birch Credit Union, Toronto Burtnieki, and the Latvian Centre’s Letts Shop lent a helping hand. Many thanks to the Ottawans and Montrealers: the Daugavas Vanagi in Ottawa, Krišs Brauns of MKT Financial Services Ltd, Tērvete and the Trinity Latvian Church in Montreal.

We would also like to thank the Embassy of Latvia in Canada for their support and cooperation.

We also set up an LNAK table in the lobby, where participants were invited to sign cards created by LNAK to send to the Parliament of Canada in support of Ukraine. Our initiative was also welcomed by Ukrainians and our own compatriots. We will continue to sign them and send them to Parliament. Let us remind our parliamentarians that the Ukrainian war will need undivided attention and support until Ukraine is fully victorious.

340 tickets were sold for the event. About 70 singers and dancers took part. Many of the participants helped wherever they were needed, with a total of 63 volunteers.

“Save Ukraine received all profits from the sweets table, bar profits and donation boxes, totalling $4,500 , including a generous donation from the Ottawa Peace Fellowship, where funds for Ukraine were raised on one of the weekends before Solidarity Through Song and Dance by hosting a traditional pancake breakfast.

“The CanadaUkraine Foundation” received donations directly from donors and from the overall profits of the event. In addition to the sums already mentioned: a total of 15,750 dollars.

All together, the event raised $22,450 for Ukrainian charities (the amount is changing as donations keep coming in).

We, the Ottawa chapter, think we will continue to organise various fundraising events in Ottawa and will definitely continue our cooperation with the Ukrainians. We very much hope that this event will serve as an inspiration to others in Canada, and that each of you is always welcome in Ottawa for the events we host.

Jānis Lielāmers