VIDEO: Ukraine supporters rally outside Red Deer City Hall

Alex Ivanenko leads the crowd in a cheer at the rally he helped organize outside City Hall on Sunday to show support for Ukraine. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Alex Ivanenko speaks to the crowd at the rally he helped organize outside Red Deer City Hall on Sunday to show support for Ukraine. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)Alex Ivanenko speaks to the crowd at the rally he helped organize outside Red Deer City Hall on Sunday to show support for Ukraine. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Arlene Prysunka wore the scarf her grandmother brought to Canada when she immigrated from Ukraine in 1912 at a rally in support of Ukraine in Red Deer on Sunday. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)Arlene Prysunka wore the scarf her grandmother brought to Canada when she immigrated from Ukraine in 1912 at a rally in support of Ukraine in Red Deer on Sunday. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston addressed the crowd that gathered outside City Hall to show support for Ukraine on Sunday. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Nataliya Armstrong came to Canada from Ukraine in 2012. Husband Mike and son Thorin joined her at City Hall on Sunday at a rally to show support for her former homeland. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

More than 200 gathered outside Red Deer City Hall on Sunday to show support for Ukraine and its fight for freedom.

“I am so proud to be Ukrainian. I am so proud to be Ukrainian-Canadian,” Red Deer organizer Alex Ivanenko told the crowd.

“We come together in this sombre moment. But in a moment like this when we became the strongest.

“We stick together here and give that energy to the boys in Ukraine to make sure they have strength and the faith to fight the red dogs in their yard.”

Nataliya Armstrong immigrated to Canada from Ukraine in 2012 and came to the rally with her husband Mike and four-year-old son Thorin.

She was pleased to see so many turned out to show their support.

“It’s nice. It’s good. It’s showing that we are all united and we are all together and it doesn’t matter where we are.”

All of her family still live in the west-central part of Ukraine, about five hours from the capital, Kyiv. Just before the rally, they told her that the air raid sirens were sounding.

So far, her relatives are safe but there has been bombing and explosions nearby and refugees from the east part of the country are flooding into the area.

Vitalii Varvaruk came to Canada eight years ago and became a citizen four years ago.

Wrapped in a Ukrainian flag he called on Canadians from all nations to show their support for Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia recently and has been fiercely fighting ever since.

“Canada is doing a lot, but everyone can always do more,” he said, adding the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is accepting donations at www.ucc.ca in a humanitarian appeal.

“The Ukrainians are doing a lot with so little and I just encourage everyone to help,” said Varvaruk.

“This war doesn’t benefit anyone but Putin and his inner circle and his regime. He’s a threat to national law. He’s a threat to our western democracies.”

Arlene Prysunka came to the rally wearing a scarf her grandmother wore when she immigrated to Canada in 1912.

“I am here to support Ukrainians to save our country and probably a lot of the world,” said Prysunka, whose food culture is highlighted at her Hung Uke Ukrainian Kitchen in Timberlands.

Prysunka said she was pleased to see the crowd and hoped the numbers would only get bigger and louder.

“It doesn’t take many of us to be strong and be a show of force.”

Ivanenko’s mother Tanya Ivanenko said she heard from her family in Kovel, which is about 8o km from the Belarus border in western Ukraine, that they have had to flee to bomb shelters every two hours. Her sister told her that Kovel residents are already preparing places for refugees in schools and other buildings and people are gathering clothes and food for those fleeing the war zones.

Sunday’s gathering made Tanya proud of the support shown by Canadians and the residents of her Red Deer home.

Husband Peter also expressed his gratitude.

“Thank you Canada. The country opened the door for my family and that’s why we’re here,” he said.

Lynn Olson has friends with a Ukrainian background and wanted to show her support.

“I just feel for those people and what they’re going through so I came out to give my support,” said Olson.

“We have a lot of Ukrainians in Alberta and across Canada. They are our neighbours and our friends.”

Olson said Putin is dictator and he must go.

“He needs to be stopped. It’s ridiculous what he is doing. He’s a madman.”



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