About 30 people took part in a Sunday night, Feb. 27 vigil in Langley City to show support for Ukraine.
Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek, who is Ukrainian on her father’s side, spoke to decry the invasion ordered by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“They are a hard-working, innocent people that did not ask for this war,” van den Broek said of the country.
“They’re hiding in bomb shelters. Women are having babies in metro [subway] stations.”
Van den Broek has relatives living in the Ukraine, near Odessa and Chernobyl.
She described them as “terrified,” but determined to stay.
“In 1990, when the [Berlin] wall came down, I never thought we would be looking at the USSR again,” van den Broek commented. “Putin is a dictator, and in my view, he should be charged with war crimes.”
“Mentally, physically, emotionally, we need to be together, because our world is going through a tough time,” van den Broek said.
Participants carried candles and placards.
Sunflowers, the national flower of the Ukraine, were handed out at the Vineyard church before participants walked to the cenotaph in Douglas Park.
“It is a beautiful flower, but it also provides sustenance,” van den Broek said.
“You can give [a sunflower] to someone else to feed them. They can grow it and feed. That’s the type of people, that’s the heart Ukrainians have.”
At the Vineyard church, longtime Langley resident Sam Omelaniec recited the Lord’s prayer in Ukrainian.
“My parents came [to Canada] from Belarus in 1936, they spoke Ukrainian dialect, not Russian,” he explained.
“I hate what’s going on in the Ukraine,” Omelaniec added.
“It’s a travesty.”
More than a million Ukrainians call Canada home, and in 2016, about four per cent of people in Canada who responded to the census identified as being of Ukrainian descent.
Protests have sprung up in several cities and towns around the world since Russia launched attacks on Ukraine on Feb. 24. In B.C., protests have been held in several communities including Kelowna, Penticton, Victoria and Vancouver.
More photos from the Langley City event can be viewed online at the Langley Advance Times Facebook page.
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