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'It's devastating seeing those images' says local Ukrainian family

'A lot of people take our own freedom for granted and now we see what freedom really means when that freedom is taken away'

The images of bombed-out burning houses, desperate mothers clutching crying children, and fathers saying goodbye to their fleeing families flicker across the TV screen of a local family with Ukrainian heritage.

"It's devastating to see those images of families, just like ours, having to leave their homes not knowing where to go," Chris Kosloski told BayToday.

It's something the local teacher discusses with his family over dinner...talking about why this happened, what can be done, and possible outcomes.

"You hear these things in the media and I think it's important to discuss these things with your kids to put things into perspective, because as scary as it is we want to make sure we're not taking things for granted."

He points to recent Canadian history.

"A lot of people take our own freedom for granted and now we see what freedom really means when that freedom is taken away. So those are the sort of things we discuss at the kitchen table."

His daughter Lila is 11, a student at Sunset Park school, and she is very interested in history and the atrocities that have happened in previous wars. 

Chris was pleased when he learned how his daughter's teacher, Anna Pearson, had brought the issue into the classroom for discussion, and then gave students the power to do something about it by shovelling snow to raise aid money.

Her grade 6 classmates took to clearing neighbours' sidewalks and driveways to raise over $1,800 for humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

See: Sunset Park Public School raises over $1,800 for humanitarian aid in Ukraine...the Canadian way!

Lila's great-grandparents left Ukraine in 1928 and she takes her heritage very seriously.

When her teacher mentioned the plan, Lila was "so excited I jumped out of my chair" because there was a chance to actually do something about it.

"If you are just going to talk about it, it's not going to help anything, and getting nervous about it is not helping. I was so proud and happy that one of my best teachers came up with this to help people in need."

Lila says she would normally complain about shovelling snow.

"But I just kept thinking in my head, 'This is for my people. This is for my country, and if just sit there and do nothing, it won't benefit anyone."

She doesn't like talking about the hardships in Ukraine, calling it "really hard" but she's well aware that there is a war going on 

"They are attacking and bombing and doing horrible, horrible things." You can hear her emotion in her voice.

But it makes her appreciate the life she has in Canada.

"I'm just so so grateful that I'm sitting here in my house because there are people in Ukraine that have lost their family and it's just so hard to see that, so I'm grateful that my family is safe in Canada. Countries are at war so it's time to be very grateful for what we have."

Lila would love to visit Ukraine when peace is restored to reconnect with her past.

"My great grandparents lived in Lviv so I'd like to go there and see what it was like for my GG."

She plans, with her family, to attend the Ukraine peace rally this Saturday in North Bay 

"It's a goal of mine to go and give money to different charities to help Ukraine. I just want to do anything I can to help."

Remember the name Lila Kosloski. You likely haven't heard the last of her. She has what she calls a "life goal."

"I love learning about politics. I love reading about history even though some things that happened were horrible. But when you read about it, you learn and never forget what it takes to be a leader.

 "I want to be Prime Minister one day!"

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Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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