- Hundreds of people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Thursday, Feb. 24, to show solidarity for the people of Ukraine as the country’s conflict with Russia worsened.
- On Thursday, in response to international criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, PM Justin Trudeau imposed sanctions on Russian officials and major Russian banks.
Hundreds of people assembled at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Thursday, Feb. 24, to express their support for the people of Ukraine as violence with Russia escalated in the Eastern European country.
The impromptu gathering took place less than a day after Russian soldiers launched what looks to be an all-out assault on Ukraine, with strikes extending far beyond the eastern separatist areas that President Vladimir Putin said he had authorized the use of military force to assist.
“We can’t hold our hurt, our rage, or our annoyance.”
In this difficult moment for Ukraine, we need to stick together,” Ukrainian Canadian Congress B.C. council president Natalia Jatskevich said Global News.
“I haven’t slept well last night since, like many others here today, I have family in Ukraine… Mothers, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, wives, and children are all involved. “I don’t believe anyone in this throng got any sleep.”
International condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine has prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to impose penalties against Russian leaders and key Russian banks on Thursday.
In British Columbia, there are an estimated 200,000 persons of Ukrainian heritage.
The Ukrainian flag was raised at the provincial legislature in B.C. as a gesture of support, and the cities of Vancouver and North Vancouver announced that their city halls would be lit in blue and yellow.
While the assistance is much appreciated, Ukrainian Canadians told Global News that it did little to alleviate their concerns about their relatives in Europe.
“A ballistic rocket struck five kilometers from my parents’ home last night, and my city is thousands of kilometers from the Russian border.” So far, so good. From the Vancouver march, Father Mykhailo Ozorovych, pastor of the Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in New Westminster, told CKNW’s Jill Bennett Show, “I never anticipated this would happen.”
“We suspected something like this might happen, but not on this magnitude.”
Despite the Russian government’s attitude, Ozorovych said he was encouraged by the Russian community’s support for individuals opposed to the war in Canada.
“I’m just staring at a lovely young girl here with a placard that says, ‘I’m Russian, and I’m against Russia’s invasion and war in Ukraine,'” he added.
“Last night, my Russian neighbor in New Westminster texted me, saying, ‘We are there, praying for you.’ We don’t agree with what’s going on.’ As an effect, this is unlike anything we’ve seen in the previous 30 years since Ukraine gained independence.”
While Canada has joined the international community in imposing sanctions on Russia, UBC political science professor Allen Sens believes that the country’s ability to assist Ukrainians on the ground will be limited.
According to Sens, Russia appears to have factored in international sanctions in its decision to go to Syria and feels it can bear the short-term suffering in exchange for control of former Soviet territory in the long run.
“If not outright conquest, then definitely the installation of a puppet administration that effectively turns Ukraine into a satellite state of Russia,” he warned.
“Apart from continuing to provide support to its NATO members and continuing to provide diplomatic support to the government of Ukraine, Canada has very limited options given its strong position in international affairs.”
The march on Thursday came after a smaller protest outside Vancouver City Hall on Wednesday night.
On Saturday at 1 p.m., there will be another rally at the art gallery.
Source: Global News