POLITICS

Saskatchewan to provide $60,000 for humanitarian aid to people of Ukraine

03/04/2014 05:28 EST | Updated 05/04/2014 05:59 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan is pledging to provide $60,000 to Ukraine for humanitarian aid because the conflict there touches many people in the province.

Deputy premier Ken Krawetz announced the aid Tuesday when he introduced a motion in the legislature expressing support for the Ukrainian people and condolences for those who have died in the political violence there.

An emotional Krawetz said the money will flow through the Saskatchewan chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to Ukrainian social services.

"Many of the needs right now are medical," Krawetz said.

"There are people who are suffering from severe burns. There are amputations of limbs, arms, legs and even very serious eye injuries. So there's a number of things that the Ukrainian community needs support in."

More than 80 anti-government protesters were killed and hundreds hurt last month, and tensions reached new heights when the Russian military made an incursion into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Orest Gawdyda, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress branch in Regina, said the $60,000 sends an important message.

"Any type of humanitarian aid from Saskatchewan and Canada is going to be a help that Ukraine desperately needs right now," Gawdyda said.

"It shows solidarity on behalf of, not just Saskatchewan but in Canada, that we're here to support you."

About 13 per cent of the population in Saskatchewan has Ukrainian roots, including Krawetz.

He teared up while recalling how his paternal grandfather immigrated to Saskatchewan in 1908 as a stowaway on a cattle ship.

Krawetz said his grandfather left behind brothers and sisters who also had children.

Provincial officials say one of the clerks in the Saskatchewan legislature had a relative killed in the fighting.