BC Ukrainian community and supporters rally in Vancouver as invasion enters 18th day

It will soon be three weeks since Russian forces invaded Ukraine. For members of the Ukrainian community in BC, it means three weeks of fear, concern and heartbreak.

On Sunday, another rally was held at Jack Poole Plaza for members of the Ukrainian community and supporters. Many carried signs calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” and telling him to “keep hands off Ukraine.” Others wrapped themselves in the Ukrainian flag and held blue and yellow balloons.

Among the crowd was a young woman named Alex Zabolotna. In an interview with CTV News, she said her parents and grandmother are in hiding in a small village outside Odesa, a port city on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.

“They’re in the bunker and they don’t have a lot of food, too. (They’re) with my small sister and I don’t know what I should and how I can help,” Zabolotna said as she broke into tears. She said her father de ella armed himself with a gun to make sure he could get members of his community to safety.

“They (Zabolotna’s parents) said it saved all of my friends that live with my family now in the bunker,” she said. “I’m really scared. I love my family and I don’t know what I should do.”

On top of concerns for her own immediate family, Zabolotna said her husband doesn’t know where his grandmother is, and his uncle was killed by Russian forces.

While speaking at the rally, Natalie Jatskevich, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress BC Branch, asked those with loved ones impacted by the invasion to raise their hands. Almost everyone did.

“Thank you for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us during these dark days,” Jatskevich told the crowd.

It comes as fundraising efforts by community organizations continue. The Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in New Westminster has now raised around $100,000 in just seven days, including more than $12,000 from a perogy dinner held Saturday evening.

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