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'It still hurts': Rally held for anniversary of discovery of mass graves in Ukraine

A rally was held Sunday for the victims of the war in Ukraine found in mass burial sites in 2022. (Darcy Seaton/CTV News Edmonton) A rally was held Sunday for the victims of the war in Ukraine found in mass burial sites in 2022. (Darcy Seaton/CTV News Edmonton)

A rally was held Sunday to mark a year since the discovery of mass burial sites in Ukraine.

Demonstrators placed crosses covered with red paint outside the Walterdale Theatre in Old Strathcona, representing people found dead in mass graves in Izium, Ukraine.

"We're here today to commemorate all of those Ukrainian women, men, children who are civilians, and soldiers, who have become victims of Russia's acts of terror" said Diana Kotsyuba of the Ukrainian National Youth Federation of Edmonton.

"Even though this has happened more than a year ago, it still hurts just the same," she said.

In September 2022, Ukrainian authorities found more than 440 bodies in a mass burial site in Izium after the city was recaptured from Russian forces.

Mass grave sites were also found in other liberated regions of Ukraine. That same month, a site containing 458 bodies was uncovered in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv after it had been occupied by Russia for 33 days.

"All that Russia has left of those innocent people is two sticks put together and a number," Kotsyuba said. "These numbers are in our nightmares. Behind each of these numbers is a life."

Kotsyuba said she's hoping the rally will also spark more support for Ukraine.

"The war has been going on for such a long time now that people are losing interest," she said. "They don't really care anymore. They're getting tired of the war.

"We understand this but we can't let the world forget such horrible atrocities."

Kotsyuba said people who can't afford to donate can help by sharing news from Ukraine to increase awareness of the ongoing war.

"It's worse than ever. It hasn't stopped, I don't quite see the end unless the whole world unites and helps Ukraine," Kotsyuba added.

While Canada has provided aid to Ukraine and strongly condemned "Russia's war of aggression," Kotsyuba said the community wants to see the government go further in its condemnation.

"Time doesn't heal such tragedies we've realized, however justice does," she added. "That's why we're asking [Canada] to recognize Russia for what it is – a terrorist state that commits genocide of Ukrainians in Ukraine."

With files from the Associated Press Top Stories

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