Tears of sadness and hope were shed on the steps of Red Deer City Hall on Sunday as dozens of people gathered in remembrance of more than 100 Ukrainian protesters killed in skirmishes on the streets of Kiev during the past few days.
It is hoped that their deaths have sown the seeds of freedom, said rally organizer Alex Ivanenko, who immigrated with his parents in 1994.
Recent developments have changed the tone of the rally that was planned earlier in the week, before President Viktor Yushchenko was unseated and before his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko, was released from the prison where she has been held captive for the past three years.
But there are many obstacles on the road to democracy, said Ivanenko’s father, Peter.
They include fears that efforts will continue to split the country in two, said Peter.
Those forces must never be allowed to prevail, he said.
Most of the 80 or more people gathered together on Sunday were temporary workers who had come from Ukraine to fill jobs at Olymel, said Father Serhiy Harahuc of the Saint Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church on 40th Ave.
There were others in the crowd, too, with the ceremonies joined at one point by a much smaller contingent of marchers who were carrying signs in support of a similar movement in Venezuela.
Ainur Kabesheva brought with her a tradition from her home country of Kazakhstan, tearing off and distributing small pieces of steaming hot shelpek, a pan-fried bread made for remembrance services. People share the bread to show their support for each other, said Kabesheva.
Regardless of which languages they spoke or where they came from, the people who met on Sunday have been deeply affected by the clashes in Kiev, said Harahuc, who has personal connections with one of the victims.
He said he learned from his parents and from news media that a good friend, a 20-year-old man from his home city of Zbarazh, had been among the first killed.
He and the Ivanenkos have dedicated themselves to continuing the efforts that started in Kiev, in hope that their country will successfully forge the democracy they seek and that it will set a good example for others in similar straits.