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From the left, Oleksandr Kozin, Zoriana Wankiewitz and Yaryna Datsyuk, Ukrainian-Canadian undergraduate students at the University of Toronto, participated in the special fundraising event in support of the Innis College Ukrainian Community Scholars at Risk Award.Handout

The organizer: The University of Toronto’s Innis College

The pitch: Raising $30,000

The cause: Funding the Innis College Ukrainian Community Scholars at Risk Award

Innis College at the University of Toronto has a long history of organizing events that deal with global issues. But a recent fundraiser held special significance.

In April the college hosted a screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom which explores the civil unrest in the country from 2013 to 2014. There was also a question-and-answer session with the film’s director Evgeny Afineevsky. “There’s a lot of messages in the movie - the importance of being united and being together, the value of human rights and the importance of freedom of speech,” Mr. Afineevsky said before the event.

The screening raised $30,000 for the college’s Ukrainian Community Scholars at Risk Award, which funds scholarships for refugee students.

“I was filled with gratitude and pride at seeing so many people gathered, in-person and virtually, in recognition and support of the Ukrainian student community,” said student Yaryna Datsyuk. “Today, Ukrainian students in Canada grapple with the immense financial, emotional and social impacts of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”

Charlie Keil, the college’s principal, is a former director of the Cinema Studies Institute. “Innis’s screenings have a history of illuminating pressing issues through the expressive power of film,” he said. “The Winter on Fire event assumed a particular urgency, with three Ukrainian students, currently enrolled at U of T, speaking eloquently of the necessity for broad support of Ukraine.”

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