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Our Community: Kids' art a window into Ukraine

Plus: literacy program, Ladysmith's maritime heritage, sports and recreation expo, plant and bake sale at Gorge Park
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Johnathan Brower sets up a display of art by Ukrainian children from Lviv at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria this week. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

See the war in the Ukraine through the eyes of its children at Beyond the News: Ukrainian Children’s Art, a travelling exhibition on display at Christ Church Cathedral until May 30.

The exhibition, presented by the Cowichan Valley Arts Council, presents images of the conflict from the view of children ages five to 15 who attend the Children’s School of Folk Art in Lviv, Ukraine.

The images range from fighter planes and exploding buildings to dreams of peace.

“For me, war is a constant sound of sirens, fear of losing home, ­falling asleep and never waking up. But I believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and in our victory,” 11-year-old Solomiya wrote.

The 24 prints of drawings and ­colourful paintings will be displayed in the cathedral’s Chapel of Reconciliation

“The goal is to raise funds for Ukraine in the best way we know, through art,” said Susan Down, ­managing director of Cowichan Valley Arts Council.

“Art is an effective way to touch people’s hearts so we reached out to a Ukrainian artists group in Canada which connected us with the school in Ukraine.”

The exhibition is free to view but donations are accepted and will go to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. Donations can also be made by e-transfer to ­contact@cowichanvalleyartscouncil.ca (with Ukraine in the message line) or by calling the arts council at 250-746-1633.

Nanaimo literacy program begins a new chapter

A Nanaimo literacy program that teaches Indigenous elders and adults literacy skills is expanding to 11 communities across the country thanks to sponsorship worth nearly $1 million.

The First Elders Accessible ­Training Healing Education Respect Support (Feathers) Society provides literacy training to Indigenous elders, adults and residential school survivors.

The program, launched in 2021, was developed in response to the desires of elders to learn to read. It teaches them literacy skills in a respectful way.

Many residential and day school survivors did not receive an education during their time there. The trauma and abuse they experienced left many with a great reluctance to enter a ­traditional classroom setting, leaving many ­survivors, who are now elders in their communities, without critical literacy skills.

“There’s a whole bunch of stuff you can’t do when you can’t read or write, and you’re too proud to ask people for help,” said Yvonne Frenchie, an 86-year-old former participant.

“No matter how old you are, just give it a try. It’s never too late to go back to school.”

Reasons for joining the program are very personal. Some want to read ­stories to their grandchildren, set a good ­example to youngsters or obtain a driver’s licence.

The program is free. Participants are grouped with those at similar literacy levels, giving them an opportunity to support each other. The self-paced ­environment allows elders to proceed at a comfortable pace.

The expansion is possible due to a sponsorship by Oak View Group and municipalities in which they manage and operate facilities.

“We wanted to support the growth of this program in a big way,” said Dean Clarke, regional vice-president of Oak View Group.

“We were so inspired by the stories these elders told, we wanted to help the program thrive not just on Vancouver Island, but across Canada.”

Feathers is supported by donations and community sponsorships.

• For more information, go to ­feathersliteracycircle.ca.

Ladysmith celebrates its maritime heritage

Enjoy the sight of a flotilla of all manner of boats as the Ladysmith Yacht Club hosts its annual sail past to celebrate the maritime heritage of the community on May 7.

The club has hosted sail pasts for 35 years, but the event was put on hiatus due to the pandemic.

The flotilla will include heritage boats, pleasure craft and representation by the Coast Guard and RCMP, with a bagpiper playing in the background at Transfer Beach Park.

Organizers have hired face painters from the local high school to be part of the celebration for children.

The event starts at 1 p.m. at Transfer Beach Park in Ladysmith. For more information, go to the yacht club's website.

Families invited to sports and recreation expo

A free, interactive sports and recreation expo is being held at the Family Sport and Recreation Festival at Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence on May 7.

This is the 11th anniversary of the event, co-hosted by the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. The festival will include more than 30 activities for children to try. It offers children and parents an introduction to sporting, recreational and physical activity opportunities in Greater Victoria.

“We are so pleased to welcome back our beloved Family Sport and Recreation Festival,” said Robert Bettauer, PISE chief executive officer.

”The community looks forward to this event each May where we welcome over 2,000 people to experience the joy of being active and trying new sports and activities. With the support of many community partners, we will be able to continue to offer an outstanding, inclusive festival experience with a broad variety of fun experiences for the whole family.”

This year, a ceremony will be held at noon to officially open the newly resurfaced turf field. There will be an Indigenous welcome, a blessing and a speech from Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Camosun College’s Interurban campus, 4461 Interurban Rd.

Plant and bake sale at Gorge Park gardens

Members of Gorge Park Community Gardens is holding a fundraising plant and bake sale at the gardens on May 8.

The group will be selling veggie starts, annual and perennial flowers, as well as home baking.

The gardens started in 2015 and feature allotment beds rented by members who grow herbs, fruit, flowers and vegetables. Members include both allotment holders and those who care for communal areas.

The event is open from 1 to 4 p.m. at the gardens in Gorge Park, 123 Gorge Road West, between Millgrove and Donald streets in Saanich. There is a pedestrian light at Millgrove Street for crossing the street to the park, which overlooks the Gorge Waterway.

parrais@timescolonist.com