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Thousands rally to Stand with Ukraine

Feb 8, 2022 | Featured

30 centres in all 10 provinces take part.

New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

Thousands of Canadians answered the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ call to Stand with Ukraine with rallies in all 10 provinces, February 8.

This is the first time in the 130-year history of Ukrainian settlement in Canada that a community action covered such an all-encompassing geographic scope.

“It was truly moving and inspiring to see communities from all 10 provinces – from St. John’s on the Atlantic coast – to Victoria on the Pacific coast, and more than two dozen places in between – come together to show that Canadians Stand With Ukraine!” said UCC National President Alexandra Chyczij.

“Sunday’s events were a powerful message from Canadians to Prime Minister Trudeau, the Cabinet and to Members of Parliament that Canada should provide Ukraine with defensive weapons immediately, to help Ukrainians defend themselves from Russia’s increasing aggression. To the people of Ukraine – we will always be with you in your fight to defend your freedom!”

Rallies were held in 29 towns and cities February 8. From West to East: Victoria, BC; Vancouver, BC; Vernon, BC; Calgary, AB; Edmonton, AB; Vegreville, AB; Regina, SK; Saskatoon, SK; Yorkton, SK; Dauphin, MB; Winnipeg, MB; Morden, MB; Ottawa, ON; Bradford and Barrie, ON; Hamilton, ON; Kingston, ON; London, ON; Toronto, ON; Oshawa, ON; Sudbury, ON; Windsor, ON; Montreal, QC; Lévis/Quebec City, QC; Gaspe, QC; Moncton, New Brunswick; Fredericton, NB; Charlottetown, PEI; Halifax, NS; St. John’s, NL.

The thirtieth was held the previous weekend in Niagara Falls and St. Catharines, ON.

Victoria, BC. Photos: UCC Facebook page

Victoria, BC

Approximately 65 people gathered at Centennial Square outside of City Hall. They were joined and supported by members of the local Polish, German and Norwegian communities. Renowned University of Victoria historian and Ukrainian Studies professor, Dr. Serhy Yekelchyk, who just had an article published in Politico, addressed the community, calling on all present to tell the wider community that Ukraine is not Russia, the war is ongoing, and that there is no compromise involving freedom. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps sent a letter of greeting. All present were urged to write their MPs calling on Canada to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine.

With contributions by Devon Sereda Goldie.

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, BC

A car rally of over 30 vehicles started at Queen Elizabeth Park, went through downtown Vancouver and ended at Vancouver City Hall. It was warmly greeted by Vancouverites who support Ukraine’s fight for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Joined by members of the Lithuanian participants they thanked Canada for its ongoing support for Ukraine and urged the Canadian government to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons, increase economic and personal sanctions on Russia, support offering a NATO Membership Action Plan for Ukraine, and cancel the Nord Stream II pipeline.

Vernon, BC

Vernon, BC

The Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Vernon, B.C. participated in the 61st Vernon Winter Carnival parade which was attended by thousands of spectators on February 5.

Sadok took the opportunity to invite the Ukrainian communities of Kamloops and Kelowna to walk with them in solidarity #StandwithUkraine.

The Dolyna Ukrainian Dancers of Kelowna along with Rev. Andrzej Wasylinko and family from Kamloops, among others joined Sadok.

Artistic Director, Andrea Malysh of Sadok stated that she was interviewed recently by CBC Radio about the rising tensions in Ukraine. She stressed that Russia is in Ukraine with the ongoing war that has displaced 1.5 million Ukrainians and killed over 13,000 since they invaded it in 2014.

The Thompson – Okanagan Ukrainian communities have supported each other for many years for a variety of Ukrainian events. The common denominator for these communities has been the existence of the Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic Churches as well as active Ukrainian dance and cultural groups since before the 1950’s.

Malysh said, “The Thompson-Okanagan has thousands of community supporters who identify as Ukrainian Canadian. The parade was a well-supported event and opportunity to inform the public of what is really going on in Ukraine.”

With contributions by Andrea Malysh.

Calgary, AB

Calgary, AB

Close to 100 gathered at the Crescent Heights Lookout Point on Sunday to denounce the deployment of 100,000 Russian troops along the Ukraine border in recent weeks.

“Right now, Russia accumulated a lot of military buildup along Ukraine and is threatening further escalation of the ongoing invasion,” Inna Platonova, president of the UCC Calgary branch told Global News.

“We’re here to show support for Ukraine, to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, to thank Canada and allies for their support.”

“We are obviously very alarmed by the ongoing invasion of Russia, and we came out here to stand in solidarity with and to show support for Ukraine.“ Other speakers and participants included: Arkadij Chumak, Board Chair for UCC Calgary;Oleksandr Danyleiko, Consul of Ukraine in Western Canada; Farhadbey Guseynov, Community and Public Relations Officer at Alberta Azerbaijani Cultural Society; John Stadnyk, Chair of the Board of Directors, Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Society & UCC Calgary Board Directo; Tetiana Usenko who organized the volunteer centre in Ukraine “Kryvyi Rih Berehyni”, League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, Calgary Branch; Dr. Nataliia Vereskun, Maidan Activist, League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, Calgary Branch; Korinnya Choir and Surma Choir, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church led by Iryna Kalinovich; Ukrainian Youth Association, CYM; Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Society,-Members of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Vladimir’s and St. Stephen’s Churches; Oleksandr Zagirskyy, Echoes of Ukraine.

Edmonton, AB

Edmonton, AB

Over 150 people rallied at Hawrelak Park to urge Canada to supply lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine.

“Our community believes strongly that now is the time to act to deter a further Russian invasion, rather than wait until Russia further invades. We are focused on a proactive and not a reactive approach,” said UCC Alberta President Orysia Boychuk.

“We are asking the Alberta Provincial government for financial assistance to support the Russian disinformation war.

“We ask the federal government to immediately:

Substantially increase the provision of defensive weapons to Ukraine;

Increase sanctions on Russia;

Offer a NATO Membership Action Plan for Ukraine,” she added.

“It is utterly incredible that a Russian assault on Ukraine is a possibility within days or weeks. Ukraine is a Western European nation. One who has two generations who have no connection to the old USSR,” said MC Taras Podilsky.

“Ukrainians have proven their allegiance to Western values and a future in freedom and democracy during the 2014 Maidan. They have already sacrificed thousands of lives in the 8 year war with their Russian aggressor. They have a right to self determination, yet have to live with a Russian bully neighbour that has to leave it in peace. Give Ukraine a chance Canada and provide defensive weapons. It is a concrete action we can provide today.

“Another concrete action Canada can take is banning Russia Today. We call on the Canadian government, the CRTC to ban Russia’s English language propaganda and disinformation machine in Canada Russia Today. Which is provided free on most cable providers,” he added.

UCC National Vice President Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz reported that the Ukraine Humanitarian Relief Committee was established jointly by UCC and CUF to formalize a coordinated approach in providing humanitarian assistance quickly and efficiently to those in need in Ukraine to address any further aggression by Russia. The committee will work with the Ukrainian Canadian community across Canada to reduce duplication of effort and ensure that such aid efforts have the most effective impact for Ukrainian citizens affected by crisis. She urged participants to donate generously.

Other speakers included UCC Edmonton President Anastasia Khoma and Ukraine’s Consul in Edmonton Nadia Kostenko. Fort Saskatchewan – Vegreville MLA Jackie Armstrong Homeniuk sent greetings from the Alberta Government.

Vegreville, AB

Vegreville, AB

Approximately 80 supporters, from Ukraine, Edmonton, Mundare and the Vegreville area attended the Stand With Ukraine Family Rally held by the Pysanka Monument. Words of support for Ukraine came from all three levels of government. A prayer for Ukraine was led by local Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic priests. Participants sang both Ukrainian and Canadian national anthems, with a young local student singing O Canada. Before and after the brief ceremony, contemporary Ukrainian music filled the air, and popcorn and hot chocolate were shared among participants.

With contributions by Natalia Toroshenko.

Regina, SK

Regina, SK

About 70 people gathered at the Saskatchewan Science Centre on Sunday. “We’re just trying to bring awareness to Canadians and to show support,” he said. The financial contribution of $100,000 from the provincial government to Ukrainian humanitarian aid is greatly appreciated, Terry Kuzyk, the president of the UCC in Regina, told CBC News.

Yorkton, SK

The Yorkton rally was organized by the Yorkton branch of the UCC and was held outdoors at Deer Park Golf Course.

“The world is learning about the aggressive Russian stance in putting troops along Ukraine’s borders. This has been going on since 2014. Can you imagine? Eight years of living in fear!” said Larissa Van Caeseele, Chair of UCC-Yorkton.

Yorkton has the privilege of being home to many Ukrainian immigrants, she said.

“Our Saskatchewan government has pledged $100,000 to Ukraine for humanitarian aid. UCC is waiting for the federal government to join other countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Poland, in providing Ukraine with defensive weapons,” she said.

With materials from Larissa Van Caeseele.

Saskatoon, SK

Saskatoon, SK

Roughly 100 people gathered in downtown Saskatoon wearing blue and yellow colours to show their support for Ukraine, reported CBC News.

“It’s very important to our community to stay united and voice our concerns, as well as raise awareness of what’s happening in Ukraine,” said Iryna Matsiuk, a volunteer with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

She added that the majority of people that took part in the gathering are incredibly worried about loved ones back in Ukraine.

“It’s definitely very difficult for us. My mom, my sister’s family, my cousins, uncles, aunts (are) there. It’s very scary for us, but we are trying to stay strong.”

Morden, MB

Morden, MB

#StandWithUkrane in Morden became one of 29 rallies that took place on February 6, 2022, under the National Blue and Yellow Canada initiative! Morden’s rally in support of Ukraine was one of three gatherings in Manitoba on that day and took place at Morden Civic Centre. The local event was organized by BORSCH Ukrainian Cultural Club (Morden) and Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Manitoba.

Morden Ukrainian Community is one of the newest communities that started to build up about 10 years ago, so all attendees who came to support Ukraine were newcomers. There was even a family from Donetsk who was among the 1.5 million people displaced from the region. Holtsov Oleksandr and Okopna Hanna left their native Donetsk after the beginning of the war in the Donbas, their house was destroyed in 2015 and they never returned back home since then. Now Oleksandr, Hanna and their two sons live in Morden and are happy to be finally safe! For them, the possible escalation of the war from Russia’s side means a lot, and it means that more danger and losses can come to more families in Ukraine. Hanna said: “When we discovered about the build-up of Russian troops along the Russia-Ukraine border we realized that we are so lucky to be finally safe, to be in Canada now and that now there will be no harm to us! Thank God!”

The main message of Morden activists was the reminder to Canada and Canadian officials that Ukraine needs more help today. Thanks to Canada and Operation Unifier, 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained already but Ukraine needs more help today. Ukraine needs more defensive weapons from Canada and this is something that was already promised by Canada and still didn’t happen. Ukraine should be able to defend itself and Putin should be stopped, said the activists.

The special guest at the #StandWithUkrane rally in Morden was Mykhaylo Khomitskyy, Priest at the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg who led the rally attendees to pray for Ukraine.

With contributions by Yevgeniya Tatarenko.

Winnipeg, MB

Winnipeg, MB

Dozens of people rallied outside Winnipeg City Hall, calling for the Canadian government to support Ukraine amid growing tensions with Russia, reported CTV News.

“We are here to show our solidarity for our friends and family in Ukraine who are at an increased risk of further aggression by Russia,” said Ariadna Dulgosh, a member of the Ukrainian Canadian community.

“We basically just want Ukraine to know that Canada is with Ukraine,” said Alexa Sawatzky, a member of the Ukrainian Youth Association.

Sawatzky said the association wants Canadians to be informed about what is happening overseas.

Dauphin, MB

Dauphin, MB

There was a flash mob rally held in front of City Hall in Dauphin to gather and show unity in support of the struggle happening in Ukraine with the potential of a Russian invasion. The residents that attended wore Ukrainian colours while waving Ukrainian flags and holding #StandWithUkraine banners.

Sudbury, ON

Sudbury, ON

Participants of the Sudbury rally gathered on February 6 along the sidewalk at 40 Notre Dame Ave. to show their support for Ukraine. Organizers of the rally adhered to COVID-19 protocols.

“We want to be practical and to protect people, but we also want to be part of a nationwide effort to show support. The big thing is to educate the public about what’s really going on, and that it is scary,” UCC Sudbury said on their Facebook page.

The Ukrainian community in Greater Sudbury is about 7,000 people strong.

“We are not protesting. We are not marching. What we are doing is trying to show support for Ukraine, and also thank the Canadian public,” said Sonia Peczeniuk, a member of Greater Sudbury’s Ukrainian community.

“On very short notice, [UCC] have asked for all major communities to hold a small rally, whatever they can manage, to stand in support of Ukraine, but also to thank Canada for the support this country has provided, and hopefully will continue to provide,” said Peczeniuk.

Windsor, ON

Windsor, ON

A crowd of nearly 50 attended the rally in Windsor, which was held outside St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in the 2000 block of Tecumseh Road East.

Leisha Nazarewich, who helped organize the event, told the Windsor Star that the community is very concerned with what is going on in Ukraine.

“What’s happening is raising a lot of tension and causing concern for many of us with relatives there,” she said.

Across Windsor and Essex County, there are roughly 2,000 people who count themselves as being of Ukrainian descent.

Nazarewich also said that if war does occur involving Ukraine and the country should fall under Russia’s control, Putin will likely not stop there.

“We believe he wants to recreate the Russian empire of the czars,” she said. “He won’t stop there and will go after other places. So, that’s the other concern.”

“It’s not just Ukraine, but all of eastern Europe is at risk. Our fear is he wants to take us back to the 20th century, instead of going forward,” Nazarewich said.

Barrie, ON

Barrie, ON

Two dozen people gathered outside Barrie’s City Hall on Sunday. Oksana Yakusha, organizer of the rally, told CTV News she has family in Ukraine who are concerned.

“They are so concerned, and they are so worried because they want to live in freedom. They want to live in peace,” Yakusha says. “They want to live in an independent Ukraine.”

Morris Ilyniak, an Orillia resident, said it’s important for Canadians to show their support.

“As Ukrainian Canadians and as all Canadians, we need to stand up for Freedom and democracy around the world,” Ilyniak says. “Ukraine is on the forefront of that battle.”

The rally in Barrie was attended by participants from the neighboring towns, including Bradford, Innisfil, Angus, Hawkstone and Thornton.

Toronto, ON

Toronto, ON

Over 600 people attended the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Toronto Branch’s Stand With Ukraine rally on February 6.

“Thank you to all who participated and helped organize today’s event and thank you to the media who provided coverage,” said UCC-Toronto branch on their Facebook page.

The rally in Toronto took place at St. Claire Avenue East and Ferndale Avenue at the Consulate General of the Russian Federation.

President of the UCC’s Toronto branch Peter Schturyn told the Toronto Star that the goal is to educate Canadians and let them know this is a global concern and to stress the importance of supporting Ukraine at this time.

“If Russia were to full-on invade, this would be full-out war in Europe that hasn’t happened since the Second World War. So we’re not being overdramatic, this is really serious,” he said.

The rally was supported by Toronto’s Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, Polish, Belarusian and Taiwanese communities with supporters chanting “Russia, hands off Ukraine” with signs that read “Stop Putin! Stop the war!”

Alexandra Chyczij, President of the UCC’s national branch also spoke at Sunday’s event. She reminded rally-goers of the contributions Canada’s first-generation Ukrainians made during the Second World War.

“We are not just some lobby group, we are part of the fabric of Canada. We are true and loyal Canadians who in the Second World War were disproportionately represented amongst Canada’s armed forces.”

The rally was also attended by MPs: Yvan Baker (Etobicoke Centre), James Maloney (Etobicoke Lakeshore) and Arif Virani (Parkdale High Park) and James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman).

“We have to do everything possible to deter an invasion and support Ukraine. And if we do that, we will be successful,” Baker said during the rally.

Oshawa, ON

Oshawa, ON

UCC – Durham held the Stand With Ukraine rally at the Oshawa city hall. The action was attended by representatives of the Ukrainian community, as well as representatives of other communities that support Ukraine.

The main message to the Members of the Canadian Parliament was the request of the entire Ukrainian-Canadian Community to support pro-Ukrainian countries and provide Ukraine with lethal weapons to protect its territorial integrity.

“After all, by supporting Ukraine, we support democracy in all countries of the world!” said UCC-Durham on their Facebook page.

Kingston, ON

Kingston, ON

Over 50 people came together to join in the demonstration organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Club of Kingston.

“Although Kingston’s Ukrainian community is small, it has historic roots in this city, going back over 100 years, and… has been quite active on various cultural, educational, and historical issues, including the annual Folklore-Lviv Ukraine pavilion,” Club President Lubomyr Luciuk, who is also a professor of Political Geography at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), told The Kingstonian.

Earlier in the week, Luciuk applied to Kingston City Council to have City Hall illuminated in the national colours of Ukraine, blue and yellow, as part of the Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, movement, “to show solidarity with Ukraine at this time of crisis,” which was passed by Council on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. As such, City Hall reflected the Ukrainian colours onto the waters of the fountain in Confederation Park where those in attendance – both from the Canadian-Ukrainian Club of Kingston and from the broader Kingston community – gathered with signs and flags to show their support.

The assembled group was thanked for attending and supporting Ukraine and then sang “Щe не Вмерла Україна” on the steps of City Hall and chanted “Слава Україні Героям Слава” as they walked from the front of City Hall around the block (Market Square) and back to the front of City Hall.

With materials from Lubomyr Luciuk.

Ottawa, ON

Ottawa, ON

In Ottawa, about 200 people protested in front of the Russian Embassy. Cassian Soltykevych (President of UCPBA Ottawa and UCC National Secretary) was the MC of the protest, Borys Gengalo (President of UCC Ottawa) and Matthew Selinger (VP Politics at the Carleton Ukrainians student club) spoke at the event. Olenka Bastian sang the national anthems of Canada and Ukraine. Members of the Polish, Russian, Belarusian and Baltic communities were in attendance to support the protesters.

In his speech, Soltykevych said: “It is disappointing, both to our community here and to our friends in Ukraine, that the Canadian government is not yet joining our allies in providing Ukraine with weapons. The Canadian people are clear in their support for Ukraine’s right to defend itself, and Canada must do the right thing and provide defensive weapons to Ukraine now.“ He also noted that, for those looking to donate and support the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, a Ukraine Humanitarian Relief Appeal has been established by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation in preparation of a humanitarian crisis ensuing from further Russian invasion of Ukraine.

With materials from Cassian Soltykevych and Ihor Michalchyshyn.

Place Jacques Cartier, Old Montreal

Montreal, QC

In Montreal, the demonstration took place at 2 p.m. at Place Jacques-Cartier, where hundreds of people gathered in protest of Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine and voice their concerns of a possible invasion.

Many warned of what could happen should Russia invade the central European country.

“Ukraine is defending its territorial integrity,” said Eugene Czolij of the Honourary Consul of Ukraine in Montreal. “It is also preventing Russia from invading other countries in Europe.” With the Ukranian national anthem playing in the background, protestors said they want to see more action from Canada.

“We thank Canada for what they’ve given so far. We’d like Canada to give more military equipment,” said Greg Bedik, president of the St. Volodymyr Cultural Association of Montreal.

Gaspe, QB

Gaspé, QC

Thirty people gathered at the Cradle of Canada site in solidarity with Ukraine on the invitation of Oleksii Pivtorak, a student of the Cégep de la Gaspésie from Ukraine, who wishes to raise awareness among the Gaspé population about the situation in his country. “I wanted to meet the community of Gaspé who are in suport of my homeland, he told Radio Canada. “It is to show that even if we are far away, in Gaspé, we can show solidarity… We don’t want to go to war. We are a peaceful nation.”

According to the student, Ukrainians in Canada are worried about their families, however, in Ukraine, people remain calm. The situation is still stable, he noted, the government wants to avoid panic.

Moncton and Fredericton, NB

Two cities in New Brunswick – Moncton and Fredericton – also joined the rallies over the February 6 weekend.

They participated during a snowstorm at home, showing off Ukrainian colors and carrying “Stand with Ukraine” signs on social media.

Charlottetown, PEI

Charlottetown, PEI

About 20 people, mostly of Ukrainian descent, arrived in front of City Hall on Feb. 6, waving flags and signs, reported Saltwire.

Elina Lialiuk, a Ukrainian woman who moved to Stratford in 2019, said the aim of the demonstration was to raise awareness about the current situation in the country, where tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been increasing in the past several months.

“The situation is not good currently with the amount of troops Russia’s military is building up across the border,” said Lialiuk. “There is a lot of tension because of what is going right now and Islanders should know.”

Having grown up in Lviv, Lialiuk moved to P.E.I. as a direct result of the conflict in East Ukraine.

“It was terrible. At the time, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Lialiuk. “We felt this tension in the country and we started looking for ways to immigrate to Canada.”

The group of Ukrainian Canadians and supporters made its way down Queen Street to the Charlottetown. ‘Crimea is Ukraine’ and ‘Hands off, Putin’ were a few of the chants from the group.

Halifax, NS

Halifax, NS

Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Nova Scotia participated in a gathering near the City Hall Building to show its support in light of recent events in Ukraine. Before the rally, UCC-Nova Scotia Branch asked participants to bring their own Ukrainian flags in hopes to turn Canada blue and yellow on Sunday. The event was held in accordance with all COVID-19 protocols, including requirements regarding the gathering limits.

UCC Nova Scotia President, Andre Mereshchuk, said the demonstrations are a show of solidarity with Ukrainians who just want to live their lives back home.

“To support Ukrainians and (offer) knowledge to Canadians about this war,” he said.

St. John’s, NL

St. John’s, NL

St. John’s rally took place in front of St. John’s City Hall, with approximately 20 people come out to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The rally attracted attention of the passing cars, who honked in support as the members of the community waved flags and sang Ukrainian and Canadian hymns and chanting ‘Hands off, Putin’.

With materials from Brian Cherwick.

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