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'There is still a war going on': Massive pysanky to raise funds for newcomers

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Ukrainian artists are sharing a piece of home to support fundraising efforts for a local organization helping resettle newcomers fleeing the Russian invasion.

For the second year, Kingsway Mall welcomed artists to create massive pysanky, Ukrainian Easter eggs, that will be auctioned off with proceeds supporting the Ukrainian Canadian Social Services.

This year, 14 artists are handcrafting a massive egg, each one representing one month of conflict since Russia invaded Ukraine.

"We need to bring back focus on the fact that there is still a war going on," explained Daena Diduck, a pysanka master and Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts member.

Diduck is involved in a parallel effort in Calgary. Artists began painting the eggs on March 30, with designs expected to be completed by Easter Monday.

They will be displayed until April 30, when the online silent auction will close. Diduck also encouraged anyone interested to donate to support the causes helping resettle Ukrainian newcomers.

"We have newcomers coming in every day," she added. "There's still people looking for help."

Some of the completed pysanky are displayed in Kingsway Mall (CTV News Edmonton/Miriam Valdes-Carletti).

Each of the eggs tell a different story, Diduck shared, and serve as a powerful symbol of the lasting power of Ukrainian culture.

"With the pysanky, it really brings the visual to let people to see the amazing culture," she said. "[Our culture's] been stolen a lot by the Soviets and Russians over the years.

"It's been rewritten. They've taken a lot of our songs, they've taken a lot of our artists and a lot of our work," she added. "We need to show this is ours."

Veronika Vitenko is one artist designing an egg in Edmonton. This is her second month in Canada after fleeing her war-torn homeland.

"It's a very difficult moment," she said, adding that her father, who is serving in the armed forces, and brother remain in Ukraine.

Traditionally, Vitenko would create pysanky at home with her family as they baked Easter bread. While she misses home, Vitenko says she is excited to celebrate Orthodox Easter next weekend in Canada.

"This year, we celebrate Easter for the first time in Canada. I know it will be special for us," Vitenko told CTV News Edmonton. "We go to Ukrainian Church, we feel that mood, and we feel better about [being here]."

"It makes us feel a little better."

Some of the completed pysanky are displayed in Kingsway Mall (CTV News Edmonton/Miriam Valdes-Carletti).

She was surprised to see the interest and support from mallgoers who stop to ask questions.

"I am happy to have this opportunity to help other Ukrainians while here," she added.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Miriam Valdes-Carletti

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