Dozens waving the colours of yellow and blue were at the B.C. legislature in support of Ukraine on Saturday afternoon.
Promoted by the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and Help Ukraine Vancouver Island Society as a way to be “Ukraine’s voice” from Victoria, the demonstration called on Victorians as well as Canada to remember the war in Ukraine that started when Russia invaded in February 2022.
Organizers cited the recent heavy air strikes that hit Ukrainian cities between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2 — the largest aerial attack since Russia began its invasion — as a reason to gather.
“During each massive shelling, Ukrainians feel as if they were taken to a collective firing squad: if this time it was not them who died, then someone else,” they wrote.
Rally attendee Valentyna Kolisnkyk, who is originally from eastern Ukranian city of Dnipro, said she is grateful to the Ukrainian diaspora as well as others who showed up to the demonstration.
The 24-year-old who arrived in Victoria on her own about a year ago, thanked Victorians for their support. “I often cried after talking to Canadians because they always tried to provide any help,” she said in an email.
Much of her family is still in Dnipro, which was targeted in the recent shelling. Ukrainian officials said that four maternity hospital patients were rescued from a fire, five people were killed and 20 injured in Dnipro during the 18-hour missile onslaught on Dec. 29.
“We want to remind Canadians and the whole world that the war is not over, people are dying, children are dying because Russia’s missiles are killing them every day,” Kolisnkyk said.
Kolisnkyk said her younger sister and her mother will arrive in Victoria in about three weeks. Her grandparents and her brother will remain in Ukraine.
Feb. 24 will mark two full years since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
— with files from Associated Press