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“Let’s be clear this is not Putin’s war, this is Russia’s war.” Over 2,000 in Edmonton mark second anniversary of full-scale invasion

Mar 7, 2024 | Community, Featured

About 2000 people attended commemoration of the tragic 2nd anniversary of the full scale invasion of Ukraine, organized by UCC Edmonton, in cooperation with the Ukrainian National Federation and UCC-APC

Lidia M. Wasylyn, Edmonton.

Joining communities around the globe, Edmonton’s Ukrainian community marked the tragic second anniversary of russia’s full scale invasion of peaceful Ukraine on February 24, 2024. Over 2000 people, gathered at the Alberta Legislature grounds to commemorate the genocide being perpetrated against the Ukrainian Nation. This important event was organized by the Edmonton Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) in cooperation with the Ukrainian National Federation, Edmonton Branch and the Alberta Provincial Council of the UCC.

Edmonton UCC President Yaroslav Broda thanked everyone for standing with Ukraine, including various elected officials. The Nove Zhyttia Choir under the direction of Oleksandra Hryniuk who performed the Canadian and Ukrainian National Anthems opened the program. A moving prayer for Ukraine was delivered by Archpriest Cornell Zubritskу, Dean of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Edmonton.

In further remarks, Broda said “Russia has been at war with Ukraine for 3,656 days. Just over ten years have passed since unmarked russian soldiers–little green men–appeared in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, sparking a slow motion, simmering conflict until Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, when it boiled over 730 days ago. It became a full-scale genocide. For 730 days Russian soldiers have been committing unspeakable atrocities against Ukrainians including executions, tortures, rape, mass murder. This scale of war has not been seen World War II.”

Broda reminded the crowd “Let’s be clear this is not putin’s war, this is russia’s war. In February while 5,000 people rallied against the war, 200,000 sang and danced in a soccer stadium in Moscow in support of the war. putin did not slaughter civilians in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, russian soldiers did. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers from every corner of the russian federation. Just today, the Canadian government committed $3 billion in military and financial aid to Ukraine. For this we are thankful. Canada must continue to be a leader among allies in supporting Ukraine. Ukraine’s fight is all of our fight. Ukraine must be victorious today to prevent a future conflict in Europe. If russia is not defeated today it will guarantee a wider war in Europe in the future. Ukraine must be given the tools it needs to achieve to complete victory to achieve a just peace. The cost of inaction will be immeasurably greater.”

Broda continued, “The UCC calls on the Government of Canada and our allies to supply Ukraine with air defense, long range artillery, ammunition, planes and tanks. Furthermore, we call on the Government of Canada to designate the russian federation a state supporter of terrorism and to expel all russian diplomats from Canada. Finally we call on the Government of Canada to seize all sanctioned russian assets and provide them to Ukraine, so we can continue to fight.

President of the Alberta Provincial Council of the UCC, (UCC-APC) Orysia Boychuk stated in her greetings “the world is facing the biggest threat of global peace and security since WW II. It is imperative that we keep the message alive, that russia continues to wage this brutal war on Ukraine. 20,000 children have been documented to have been stolen from Ukraine, taken to russia to be reeducated in camps to remove and annihilate their Ukrainian identity.” Boychuk thanked the Government of Alberta for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and also for a grant of $80,000 to support English classes for newcomers. Boychuk acknowledged and thanked Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland for their visit to Kyiv that very day, where they signed a defense cooperation agreement with President Zelensky in which Canada commits to providing $3 billion of financial and military aid to Ukraine.

Flags of other peoples were scattered amongst the blue and yellow, including flags of Belarus, Free Iran and the Crimean Tatars. Broda noted that Edmonton’s iconic High Level Bridge over the North Saskatchewan River along with other buildings in downtown, would be illuminated in blue and yellow colours in honour of the sacrifices made in the war in Ukraine.

Consul General of Ukraine Oleksandr Danyleiko spoke eloquently about the tragedies visited upon the Ukrainian Nation in the last ten years of war. He said, “Despite centuries of oppression, terror and countless acts of genocide Ukrainians still stand, we are still alive and still fighting, we are strong. We are fighting for our land, we are fighting for our survival. But actually, we are fighting for freedom in the whole world because if we fail, if we fall under this putin invasion he will go further. There will be no safe place in the world because all dictatorships, all the countries who have power can decide to take anything at will, to invade neighbors and destroy another country. So we are fighting now not only for Ukraine, we are fighting for the whole world.” He asked the crowd to remind our partners that the war continues and to make sure that Ukraine is not forgotten. His painful comment was that the 50,000 newcomers to Alberta cannot become complacent and indifferent to Ukraine just because they are now far away in Canada and preoccupied with their new lives.” Mr. Danyleiko expressed deep gratitude for the assistance provided thus far, by all levels of government and all Canadians.

Edmonton Centre Member of Parliament Randy Boissonnault spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister and strongly expressed Canada’s support for Ukraine. He acknowledged the horrors the Ukrainian Nation is being subjected to by the unprovoked invasion by russia. He repeated that the Government of Canada’s support for Ukraine is unequivocal, and that Canada will stand with Ukraine until Ukraine is victorious.

Representing the official opposition Conservatives in Canada’s Parliament were Zaid Aboultaif, Edmonton Manning and Dane Lloyd, Sturgeon River-Parkland. Aboultaif said: “We can only remember the sacrifices every Ukrainian is putting out there in the battlefield to defeat Vladimir Putin and his illegal invasion of Ukraine. So we stand with Ukraine, yesterday, today and in the future and as long as it takes to make the victory against putin and his illegal attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and people. Dane Lloyd underscored that “Canada’s goal is unequivocal – the complete utter victory of the Ukrainian people against the barbarian russian hoards. Glory to the heroes, God bless you all, God bless Ukraine and may God bring Ukraine victory.”

L-R: City Councillor Tim Cartmell, Sr. Lt. Konstantyn Bilous, Orysia Boychuk, President UCC-APC, Consul Aleksandr Danyleiko, MP Randy Boissonnault, MP Ziad Aboultaif & his assistant, Yaroslav Broda, President UCC Edmonton

Jackie Armstrong- Homeniuk Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Ft. Saskatchewan-Vegreville, Parliamentary Secretary for Settlement Services and Ukrainian Evacuees spoke on behalf of the Government of Alberta. She acknowledged the anguish of the Ukrainian Nation and recognized that nearly 50,000 evacuees who have settled in 205 communities across Alberta are contributing to the tapestry of our society. She hopes welcome, warmth and the stability of Alberta will spark hope for a better future for the newcomers.

The City of Edmonton was represented by three City Councillors, including Andrew Knack, Tim Cartmell and Karen Principe, who offered words of support for Ukraine and welcome to the thousands of displaced Ukrainians who have made Edmonton home.

A noteworthy speaker was Konstantyn Bilous, former Senior Lt. 59th Motorized Infantry Brigade, who fought in Kherson Oblast in the spring of 2022. He expressed gratitude “to all Ukrainians, all Canadians who have gathered to remind the world what occurred two years ago. Ukrainians did not anticipate a war, because they lived peacefully and felt life was happy. But the enemy came upon us treacherously and now we recall how our trains overflowed with refugees, we recall Bucha, Mariupol and the pain in our hearts has been transformed into rage against the enemy. Two years ago, long lineups appeared in Ukraine, line ups for signing up to defend Ukraine. We repelled the enemy from Kyiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv and other cities. But now is a difficult time, as some are now fatigued and discouraged. But we believe and know that Ukraine will overcome because Ukrainians are strong and brave. We are very thankful to the world, who at first did not have faith in Ukrainians, but when they saw that we persevered, all together they began to help us. In the first place were the Canadians, the government of Canada, and especially, Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry and we can really feel this assistance.” Bilous said now is not the time to slow down the assistance and urged everyone, every day, to do what they can for the liberation and victory of Ukraine.

Senior Lt. Konstantyn Bilous speaks at the meeting

Members of the Ukrainian National Youth Federation (MYHO) created a large outline of a map of Ukraine with candles in front of the crowd and delivered a poignant, personal reminiscence about February 24, 2022. Portraits of many fallen heroes were displayed on a visual backdrop showing the devastation of the war, followed by playing the heartrending folksong Plyve Kacha that has come to symbolize the pain of loss of innocent lives in war.

Over $5500 were raised through donations at the commemoration with funds forwarded the Ukrainian World Congress for the Army of Drones Campaign.

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