Yoopers continue to show support for Ukraine


Conlan Houston

One year after Russian invasion; ‘Yoopers for Ukraine’ hosts candle vigil

On Feb. 24, at noon, Upper Peninsula residents gathered around the husky statue at the center of the MTU campus to pay their respects to the victims of the Russia-Ukraine war. The vigil was hosted by the organization Yoopers for Ukraine, marking one year of conflict in the region.


Yoopers for Ukraine is a community group founded a year ago on the cusp of the war between Russia and Ukraine when they held a walk across the Houghton lift bridge. One year later on Friday, they continued to show their support with a candle vigil in the heart of campus consisting of a five-minute moment of silence for the Ukrainians lost in the conflict. 


One of the event attendees was Nadija Packauskas, Yoopers for Ukraine Co-Founder, along with her 92-year-old father Vytautas. “It’s bittersweet this time for us because last year today we were all so full of sorrow,” said Nadija Packauskas “We were in Marquette celebrating Ukrainian Christmas….  – One of our Ukrainian refugees who left her home had tears coming down her face”. 


The event comes just as US President Joe Biden paid a surprise visit to Ukraine on the 20th. “This last week – [Biden in Ukraine] has allowed us – to have that solidarity and support sent to Ukraine,” says Packauskas.


The Lode spoke with Nazar Gora, a Ukrainian student at Michigan Tech. He has been in the United States since 2018 and has had to put visiting his family in Ukraine on hold because of the war. “We got together to commemorate all [the] people who lost their lives during this [past] year” he explains “But the war is still going on, and people are dying each day.”


“We are blessed in the fact that strong Ukrainian soldiers and strong Ukrainian people have resisted for an entire year and held onto freedom and fought for everyone. – It shows the world what true courage is” said Packauskas. Additionally, she describes the makeup of the organization as “Bipartisan – all together holding hands for Ukraine.”


In addition to holding local events, the group is also active on a national level. In September of 2022, the group traveled to Washington D.C., and met with several Michigan representatives to advocate for Ukrainian support.


Today, Yoopers for Ukraine continues to support Ukraine through weekly Sunday walks as well as other community events and activities. More information on Yoopers for Ukraine can be found on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/groups/yoopers.for.ukraine/ or by emailing them at [email protected]