When the Edmonton Elks take the field on Friday, June 3 for their preseason game against the Calgary Stampeders, they’ll be supporting a cause that hits close to home for many Edmontonians.
On Thursday, the team announced that the 7 p.m. MDT tune-up contest will be Stand With Ukraine night at Commonwealth Stadium. All single game pre-season tickets will be sold for $15 with net proceeds going to the Canada Ukraine Foundation. Those funds will directly support Ukrainians resettling in Alberta due to the ongoing Russian invasion.
“As a community-owned team, we have a responsibility to give hope, inspiration, and provide action to Edmontonians on important issues. Supporting the people of Ukraine is a cause that resonates throughout our community, given our city’s deep ties with the Ukrainian people,” Elks’ president and CEO Victor Cui said in a statement.
“Our club has a unique opportunity to do something large scale, bringing together more than 50,000 people for a shared moment of solidarity with Ukraine.”
With a large population of people with Ukrainian descent, the war in Ukraine has strongly impacted Edmonton and the rest of Alberta.
“Alberta is home to more than 345,000 people of Ukrainian descent. Ukrainian Albertans have contributed so much to our province’s communities, culture and economy. As the Minister of Culture also responsible for sport, it is inspiring to see the crossover between sport, culture and support for the people of Ukraine,” Alberta minister of culture and status of women Ron Orr said in a statement.
“Thank you to the Edmonton Elks for their continued dedication to social responsibility and community, and for supporting a cause that holds a special place in the hearts of many Albertans.”
While the Elks will be wearing their familiar Green and Gold on the field, the event will have a distinctly blue and gold feel around the stadium, with a showcase of Ukrainain culture. The Ukrainian national anthem will be performed pre-game by the Viter Ukrainian Folk Choir, there will be performance by more than 200 Ukrainian bilingual program students from the locak area, while Edmonton’s Ukrainian Shumka Dancers are scheduled to perform their Classic Hopak at halftime.
The City of Edmonton has waived their municipal ticketing fees for the game, ensuring as much money as possible will be going to the cause.
“I am so pleased to see such an important, community driven initiative that will change the lives of so many people underway in our city,” mayor Amarjeet Sohi said in a statement. “Edmontonians are caring and compassionate people and it makes me proud to see all of the ways the Elks are supporting the people of Ukraine.”
As part of the team’s efforts to ensure the game helps as many Ukrainians as possible, Elks’ board of directors chair Ian Murray and former Alberta premier Ed Stelmach will co-chair a working group with six to eight members, including former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk. The working group’s goal will be to raise awareness for the event and garner support within the community for the cause.
“Our Stand With Ukraine game has the potential to leave a tremendous impact on Ukrainians resettling here in Alberta. I’m excited to be working with the former Premier and Deputy Premier, who have both devoted so much of their time to the cause, as we help rally the community behind this worthwhile cause,” said Murray.
Prices will return to normal for the regular season, with single game tickets also going on sale Thursday.
The Elks open their 2022 regular season home schedule Saturday, June 18 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Edmonton’s home opener is one of two home contests against the Riders, who also come to town on Saturday, August 13.