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Edmonton rallies in support of Ukraine on second anniversary of Russian invasion

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As the war in Ukraine reached the start of a third year, Edmontonians were invited to reflect on the conflict and the devastation it has caused.

Saturday was the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale attack on Ukraine, which has killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Violet King Henry Plaza Saturday to reflect on the war and call for renewed support for Ukraine.

"We want to keep this in front of the world's minds so that the support for Ukraine continues," said Yaroslav Broda, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Edmonton Branch.

"Because if we don't support now, if support waivers now, Ukraine will be stuck in a frozen conflict. That's exactly what Russia wants."

Orysia Boychuk, President Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Alberta Provincial Council said Edmonton's rally was part of global demonstrations marking the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"Two years, I never thought this would take two years," Boychuk said. "We're all very overwhelmed and devastated that today we are commemorating this day.

"And we need the support of everybody in the world and everybody here in Alberta."

Saturday, the Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts launched a photography exhibit aimed at connecting people with the conflict thousands of kilometres away.

Moments from the Battleground – the Photographs of Maxim Dondyuk offers viewers a glimpse of the war from the streets and countrysides of Ukraine.

From soldiers and displaced residents to cities and towns in ruin, the exhibit highlights the impact the fighting has had on the people and places of Ukraine, as well as the community's resistance.

"It's a mixture of sadness and tragedy," said local photographer Paul Swanson, who worked closely with Dondyuk to curate the show.

The show is designed to be a call to action, and Swanson hopes the images help viewers connect personally with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

''Numbers are one thing, but to be able to tie it in with something that you can sort of visually chew through and understand is a great next step," he said.

The exhibit is available online and in person at the Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts gallery.

For Ukrainians who fled the war, the images remain fresh in their minds.

Natalia Vynohdradova moved to Edmonton last year. She vividly remembers the first days of the invasion.

"Just panic," she said. "We don't know what we should do, where we should [go].

"Kids start crying, my son asks me, "Mom, we all die?'"

Vynohdradova said the war's anniversary will be hard for people who have lost loved ones, and it's a reminder that fighting is not over.

"Remind [the] whole world that war in Ukraine still there, and still people are going to die," she added. 

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