Police across Canada investigate crimes against Ukrainians, supporters

Police across Canada are investigating alleged acts of vandalism, theft and even arson against Ukrainian Canadians or those showing their support amid Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country.

Alexandra Chyczij of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress said these kinds of incidents across Canada are “a growing phenomenon.”

“It’s a very troubling tendency and has frankly a lot of people frightened,” Chyczij told CTV National News’ John Vennavally-Rao.

In Victoria, police are investigating a possible at the home of Yuriy Vyshnevskyy, a Ukrainian Catholic church pastor. Vyshnevskyy, as well as his wife and three young daughters, narrowly escaped the fire that began shortly after 1 am on Wednesday.

shepherd told CTV News Vancouver Island that his wife called out to him from the first floor after she noticed someone pouring gasoline into the house through the home’s mail slot.

Vyshnevskyy’s oldest daughter, 11, was injured as the children were passed from a second-storey window to the ground.

“It was hell because I knew that it was the only window out. It was the only way out,” Vyshnevskyy said.

All five family members were treated for smoke inhalationaccording to police, and the family’s tabby cat is being treated at a local animal hospital after being found unconscious.

Police said on Wednesday that it was too early to pinpoint a motive, but have not ruled out that it could have been a hate crime. The Vyshnevskyy family had a Ukrainian flag hanging in their front window at the time of the fire.

BC Premier John Horgan said at a news conference on Thursday that he hopes the community will rally around the Vyshnevskyy family.

“When it’s potentially an arson, potentially a hate crime… this is certainly something British Columbians don’t expect to wake up to,” he said.

In Levis, Que., Jean Mercier, the owner of a hair salon, was told by a client on April 9 that a black ‘Z’ – a symbol of support for the Russian army – had been spray painted on his building. A Ukrainian flag that he had been displaying was also missing.

And in Kitchener, Ont., local police are investigating after several homemade signs with information on how to donate to Ukraine were defaced with the black ‘Z’ symbol.

“It’s very sad and disappointing,” Dominga Normandeau, whose husband Paul put up the signs in support of Ukraine, told CTV News Kitchener. “The thing is, I don’t know what this ‘Z’ means. I had to go to my husband and ask what this ‘Z’ means. My son is scared because the neighborhood is quiet, and suddenly some people react like that .”

With files from Todd Coyne, Jennifer K. Baker, and Adam Chan.

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