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B.C. soldier in Ukraine says his unit needs a vehicle to help evacuate civilians from the war zone

The man is part of the Norman Brigade, embedded with the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces
Two members of the Norman Brigade with children in Ukraine

A Canadian soldier who grew up in Kelowna has arrived in Ukraine, where he is part of the Norman Brigade, embedded with the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces.

The man, whose name we are not using to protect his identity, arrived over the weekend and is now in the conflict zone. He and his colleagues got there thanks to a Ukrainian woman who coordinated transportation to take them from the Polish border to their destination.

The problem now is transportation. They want to start evacuating civilians out of the conflict zone but don’t have a vehicle.

The soldier’s mother in Kelowna, with The Bravery Foundation, is trying to raise $5,000 so her son’s unit can purchase a pickup truck. Donations can be made through The Bravery Foundation website.

His mother told Castanet they hope to purchase an older truck so they can get to and rescue trapped civilians and children. While the brigade is embedded with the Ukrainian military, the military doesn’t have a spare vehicle they can use at this time.

The mother is sharing how Ukrainians fighting to defend their country are reacting to the work of the Norman Brigade. She has also been in contact with the woman who co-ordinated her son’s transportation from Poland.

That woman responded to a Facebook post from the soldier's mother showing three of the soldiers holding body armour donated by Kelowna Stands with Ukraine, calling her son a brave warrior.

"I was in contact with volunteers from Canada who went to Ukraine," she wrote. "And this morning I was contacted by the mom of one of these brave boys. She asks me: - Did you hear my son’s voice, how is he? Is he OK? What was his mood?”

She told the woman her son was fine and she would be praying for him. Her post concluded with “Thank you for my (your) son. He is a true brave Warrior."

The Norman Brigade posted a picture Sunday of the Kelowna soldier and a fellow brigade member with a group of children in Ukraine and the words “We protect those who can't fend for themselves. Beyond Words".

The Bravery Foundation also assisted a Kelowna woman to bring a family member and her two young children to the Okanagan from Ukraine over the weekend. They are just settling into their new temporary home.

Kelowna Stands with Ukraine donated 10 pieces of body armour, worth $10,000 to the Norman Brigade.

Federal Minister of International Development Harjit Sajjan was in Kelowna Monday. He is a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces and served as defence minister from 2015 to 2021.

When asked about Canadian soldiers going over on their own dime to defend Ukraine, Sajjan talked about visiting the country a number of times and witnessing the bravery, tenacity and innovating of the Ukrainian people.

“I’m very proud of the work of Canadians and the generosity they have shown in terms of financial support, material support for Ukrainians against this unjustified, unprovoked war that President Putin has started,” said Sajjan.

He called the atrocities being committed against the people of Ukraine horrifying and said Canada will be there to provide support so that war crimes investigations can begin and President Putin and others can be held to account.