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'World history has changed': Edmontonians rally in solidarity with Ukraine after Russian invasion


Hundreds of Edmontonians waved Ukrainian flags and showed support at a rally Thursday evening following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Edmonton-based Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC) organized the candlelight vigil at the legislature grounds as a way for the local community to show their concern and opposition to the violence in Ukraine.

Taras Podilsky, League of Ukrainian Canadians Edmonton branch president, said the community watched in horror as missiles struck multiple locations in Ukraine.

"But events are such that we have to stand up with Ukraine. Stand up for Ukraine and support Ukraine," he said. "To show the world that we demand continued and increased support for our Ukrainian people, our Ukrainian army."

"A peace-loving nation, a democratic nation of our brother and sister Ukrainians are under assault," he added.

Explosions continued to be heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv early Friday as Russian forces pressed with a full-scale invasion.

On the first day of fighting, the Ukrainian government reported more than 100 Ukrainians had been killed as the country braces for further barrages of missiles and attacks.

U.S. defence officials believe the attacks to be likely part of a multi-phase invasion aimed at "decapitating" Ukraine's government and seizing key population centres.

"For too long, for too many decades, the people of Ukraine have faced wave upon wave of violence and political repression," Premier Jason Kenney said at the rally, adding that the violence had begun in Ukraine eight years ago with the invasion of Crimea."

Kenney announced on Wednesday that the province would contribute $1 million to the Canada Ukraine Foundation #HelpUkraineNow humanitarian assistance appeal.

"But last night, we have seen the beginning of the greatest act of military aggression in Europe since 1945," Kenney said. "A fundamental attack, not just on Ukrainian sovereignty, but on global peace and security."

The Ukrainian flag was displayed at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 (Source: Legislative Assembly of Alberta).

The City of Edmonton said it would light the High Level Bridge in yellow and blue to be in solidarity with Ukraine. The Ukrainian anthem was sung on Thursday, and the flag was displayed inside the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.The City of Edmonton said it would light the High Level Bridge in yellow and blue to show solidarity with Ukraine (CTV News Edmonton/John Hanson).

"I am extending my support and deepest sympathies to all Ukrainian-Edmontonians who are affected by this unprovoked invasion of their homeland," said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi in a tweet. "We stand with Ukraine."


For Stefania Kostiuk, it's been a long 24 hours. Until around three weeks ago, the Edmontonian lived in Kyiv with her fiance and worked as a teacher.

Her family and friends remain in the capital city, texting her from the middle of a warzone.

"(They're) just saying you can feel wars in the air," Kostiuk told CTV News Edmonton. "You can hear explosions. You can hear gunshots."

"We're calling our friends asking what we can do, and even on the phone, what do you say to them? There's nothing you can say."

Alberta is home to more than 330,000 people who claim Ukrainian ancestry, the UCC-APC estimates. Many are hearing similar stories and sharing the same anxieties.

"World history has changed," said Orysia Boychuk, UCC-APC president. "There is a before February 24, 2022, and an after Feb. 24, 2022. A Europe whole, free, and peaceful has ended."

"Russia seeks to destroy Ukraine and the Ukrainian people," she added. "We urge you to be informed and understand the facts."

Oleksandr Danyleiko, Consulate General of Ukraine in Edmonton, echoed those calls and asked Canadians to spread information about the attacks as widely as possible.

"It is unbelievable how it could be that in the 21st century, the neighbour attacking and starting a full-scale war which didn't even put any threat to Russia," Danyleiko said. "Ukraine is a peaceful country.

"We just want to live our way. We just want to be a peaceful nation, developing and choosing our way of developing."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced sanctions Thursday that target members of the Russian elite, their families, major Russian banks, and members of the Russian Security Council. In addition, no new export permits will be issued to Russia and Trudeau said Ottawa plans to cancel existing permits.

"We stand united and steadfast in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty. And we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people’s right to decide their own future in a free and democratic state,” he said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb,'s Sarah Turnbull, and The Associated Press Top Stories

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