First Nations woman selling scarves to raise money for Ukraine relief

A woman in northwestern Ontario is raising money through the sale of scarves for the people in the middle of the crisis in Ukraine.

Kookum scarves have recently become a trend on social media between Indigenous people and Ukrainians.

Tania Cameron has been searching far and wide across Canada to buy Ukrainian scarves for Indigenous women in Ontario and Canada to wear in solidarity with Ukraine.

Proceeds from the sales of these scarves will be donated to help those in Ukraine.

“It’s a lot of women that want to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. We are watching the news coverage of parents putting their children on trains and busses to leave the city. We’re watching young people stepping up, taking up arms to protect their country and it’s really emotional and if this in a small way, our Indigenous women can stand with our kookum scarves with Ukraine then I think this is a beautiful thing,” Cameron said.

Cameron, from Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation just north of Kenora, says she’s been able to purchase around 150 scarves from various stores and vendors.

A seller she reached out to online is based in Ukraine and was unable to complete the order because of the Russian attacks on the country.

One of the shops Cameron bought scarves from is Svitoch Ukrainian export and import in Winnipeg.

“It was an emotional purchase for me but knowing that there is a relationship between the Indigenous and Ukraine, you know we’re floral. Our Indigenous designs are floral and so these scarves are beautiful,” Cameron said.

The owners are husband and wife and their family is still in Ukraine, but they are currently safe from the fighting.

They say they were touched when the scarves were bought.

“It was such a wonderful gesture from a community from Kenora to come down as a solidarity to purchase Ukrainian hustka to wear and support us in this fight. So, I’m really touched, I’m moved and it’s such a wonderful feeling that you’re not alone with this terrible fight with the enemy so I really appreciate that,” said Ruslan Zeleniuk, owner of Svitoch.

Zeleniuk added any purchases from the store will go towards helping those that are in Ukraine.

“Most of the stuff which we are actually selling in here is specially made for a purpose, it’s the flags, scarves, pins, many of the items in here. And of course, from the total which we are actually selling in the store, a portion of those profits is going to Ukraine as well,” Zeleniuk said.

“We’re covering just the expenses practically on the rest of the stuff is going to Ukraine,” said Zeleniuk.

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‘They had a commonality’: Author says Ukrainian and First Nations women came together through scarves

Cameron is also holding an online raffle through Facebook with Ukrainian and Indigenous clothing and accessories as the prizes that are available to be won.

All proceeds from the raffle will go towards the Red Cross Ukraine humanitarian crisis appeal.

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