Albertans with Ukrainian heritage are creating apparel lines as fundraisers to help those fighting and displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sisters Katilynn and Alyson Makowichuk grew up Ukrainian dancing and run a clothing and custom item website. Before the conflict, the pair of entrepreneurs decided they would create a limited-edition apparel line each month, with proceeds going toward a charitable cause.
“It’s absolutely devastating to see what is going,” Katilynn said. “We just wanted to do anything we could to help them.”
The pair, who called Smoky Lake home, used a design of the Tryzub, the coat of arms of Ukraine, inside a Canadian maple leaf containing other Ukrainian symbols and flowers.
“It just tied everything into one,” Katilynn added. “A lot of the symbols and stuff on there, and a lot of the artwork really reminds us of the traditional (Ukrainian) blouses.”
Initially, their goal was to raise $500 for the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. As of Thursday, they have raised more than $2,600.
In Sherwood Park, Kristen Wysocki, owner of Kreative Kustoms, sells Stop War shirts to raise money for the Red Cross humanitarian appeal for Ukraine.
“It just breaks my heart, and we feel kind of helpless,” she told CTV News Edmonton.
“A lot of people are looking to donate, so we decided to make shirts,” Wysocki said. “I just wanted to keep something simple and elegant, so just two simple words with a little bird in between for peace.
“I wish I could do more, but it’s really nice to see the community come together,” she added.
After living in Kyiv last year, Natalia Kostiuk and her partner Dylan Cliff knew they wanted to help raise money to help those fighting in Ukraine.
“We wanted to do something,” Kostiuk said. “We were just stuck watching the news all day, every day.”
The duo started selling a t-shirt featuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his now-famous quote, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”
After the success of that design, Kostiuk said they are now printing five others with the hope of creating more.
Their campaign supports the Friends of Ukraine Defense Forces Fund, which helps outfit soldiers with equipment and body armor and supports families who have lost loved ones in the line of military service. Kostiuk says they have raised $6,000 so far in just a week.
“I’m getting memories from last year that we were at this beautiful church, and we were at this monument and thinking that all of that can be taken down and might not be there the next time we travel to Ukraine,” she said. “It’s a shame to think that might be all gone.”