Terry Chitrenia had one thing on his mind when as he watched the war in Ukraine take its toll on the civilian population: what would you do if that was your family?
For Chitrenia, it was more than a hypothetical question. His father came to Saskatchewan from Ukraine in 1927, farming a quarter-section of land between Crystal Springs and Yellow Creek. As conditions worsened, he began looking for ways to help.
“What would you do if that was your family that got stuck in the army in a war, got your home destroyed, (and) had nowhere to go?” Chitrenia said. “You’re sitting on the street where it’s raining or wet. What would you do if that was your family? I kind of decided I should do something about it.”
Chitrenia plans to combined fundraising for Ukraine with his other love: music. He’s planning to hold a Ukrainian Dance Party at the Prince Albert Street Fair on Saturday, with proceeds going towards Ukrainian refugees living in Prince Albert and the surrounding area.
Chitrenia runs his own disc-jockey business, Terry’s Western DJ Services, and plans to put it to good use on Saturday.
“I enjoy doing that,” he said. “Whatever I make, it goes to all the families.
“I want to help out, because I’m Ukrainian myself…. I want everyone to show up, come down, and listen to my music.”
Chitrenia still speaks Ukrainian thanks to his father, who installed a strong respect for his home country in his children. The elder Chitrenia arrived in Saskatchewan valued the Ukrainian language, and made sure his children learned to speak it. Years later, Chitrenia still understands and speaks it well.
“My dad always told me, never forget the language, because some day you might need it,” he remembered.
Chitrenia said fundraisers like this one could become more common as more and more Ukrainian refugees begin arriving in Canada. In April, the federal government launched an Aeroplan fund with the goal of bringing at least 10,000 Ukrainians to Canada.
Chitrenia said that’s well and good, but those people will still need some help when they get here.
Terry’s Ukrainian Dance Party will take place near Fresh Air Experience on the north part of Central Avenue. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase, with the funds going towards Ukrainian families.
The Prince Albert Downtown Street Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.