Fisherman from Ukraine now living in Meteghan returning home to help family
Lex Brukovskiy raising funds to assist family and refugees in Ukraine
When the war in Ukraine first broke out, Lex Brukovskiy immediately thought about his mother in the city of Lviv, more than 6,400 kilometres from his home in Meteghan, a small fishing village on Nova Scotia's St. Marys Bay.
"They are safe right now, but the area where they live was bombed the first night of the conflict," said Brukovskiy, who moved to Nova Scotia in 2009. "We've been staying in touch with them daily."
The 38-year-old has decided to return to his native land in an effort to help his family and the growing number of refugees entering from Ukraine into Poland.
Over the weekend he started an online fundraising campaign and he will be using those funds for a variety of measures once he arrives at the Ukraine-Poland border.
"The plan is to simply help people in need, mainly refugees and women and children who are trying to escape," said Brukovskiy. "They're having a hard time right now because borders are flooded with refugees and we are raising money to see what we can do to help."
Brukovskiy's family lives 90 kilometres from the Polish border. He's not sure what to expect when he arrives at the border but he hopes to be able to get through to see his family.
"My relatives back home tell me it's easier to get into Ukraine than it is to get out," said Brukovskiy, who is using his personal funds to pay for his travel. "I'm not expecting too much in the way of trouble, and then we'll plan our efforts in Lviv once we cross over."
Brukovskiy has no idea how long he will be away from his home in Meteghan, where his two teenage boys live. He is a lobster boat captain and is leaving in the middle of the lucrative lobster season in southwestern Nova Scotia.
Licences in Lobster Fishing Area 34 are owner/operator, he said, which means whoever owns the licence must be the one to operate the boat. But he said he asked the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for an exception, and it has given him a reprieve.
Brukovskiy has now hired a temporary captain to operate his boat for the remaining three months of the season and his crew will remain employed.
Brukovskiy said he could be in Ukraine until the start of the next lobster season, which begins in late fall. In just four days the funds raised have hit the $10,000 mark. Many local fishermen have made cash donations.
"I think we've raised more money from people just randomly dropping in with cash donations than we have online," said Brukovskiy, who is very appreciative of people's generosity. "People from here are donating because they want to help."