The Niagara-on-the-Lake Legion has raised $1,190 at its weekly fish fry and donated it to the Niagara Region Canadian Ukrainian Congress to support victims of the war in Ukraine.
Royal Canadian Legion branch president Al Howse and Legion member Alex Luhowy presented a cheque Friday to Irene Newton, president of the Niagara branch of the Ukrainian congress.
The Legion of Niagara-on-the-Lake holds a fish fry every Thursday to raise money for charity.
Howse, a Legion member for 49 years, gets his passion for veteran affairs from a deep-seated military lineage.
“My father was a World War Two veteran. He’s gone now. My mother supported things on the home front,” Howse said in an interview after presenting the cheque to Newton.
Howse got his start in the military in 1974, serving both full-time and part-time while his parents were active with the Legion.
Today, Howse is passionate about homelessness in the veteran community and providing aid to victims of war.
“At first, all of our fundraising was to send money to organizations like the Canada Ukraine Foundation, Help Us Help the Children, the Red Cross for aid over there,” Newton said.
The Ukrainian congress has changed its focus to helping immigrating Ukrainians settle in Canada after being displaced by the war.
“Homelessness is a big issue in the Niagara Region, and finding accommodations for people is a big issue,” Newton said.
One of the ways her organization is supporting Ukrainian refugees is by supplying essential needs, including food, furniture and clothing.
All of this is available at the group’s new boutique at 1 Currie St. in St. Catharines,. It is open Thursday 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“My parents were in the wave of Ukrainians that came during the Second World War, that escaped the Iron Curtain and escaped the Russian Siberian prisons,” said Newton.
Like Newton, Luhowy has a personal connection to the war in Ukraine.
“I’ve always maintained a strong connection to Ukraine. I have relatives there. I worked in Ukraine several times,” he said.
Family members have come to Niagara after being displaced by the war, he said.
Luhowy worked for the federal Immigration Department before retiring, but came out of retirement in April to help process Ukrainian visa applications.
The experience exposed him directly to the people being displaced by the war.
The NOTL Legion’s weekly fish fry takes place every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. and all proceeds go to worthy causes.