A large crowd rallied in Richmond Saturday afternoon in support of Ukraine, following Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.
At least 200 demonstrators, many bearing flags and blue and yellow signs — the colours of the Ukrainian flag — of support, filled the plaza outside Richmond City Hall on No. 3 Road, chanting “glory to Ukraine” and “God save Ukraine.”
Eugene Lupynis, who is on the board of the Richmond-based Ukrainian Society for Ivan Franko, told the crowd that Ukraine isn’t fighting for itself, it is fighting for the world.
“The world continues to see the Ukrainian people being strong,” he said.
Lupynis said images from Saturday’s rally would come back to the people in Ukraine, and called for continued support for the country.
The rally began with speeches outside city hall at 1 p.m., beneath the Ukrainian flag hoisted by the city earlier this week, before demonstrators marched to the Minoru Centre for Active Living.
Representatives from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Eastern Catholic Church were among those who spoke at the rally, along with Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, city coun. Chak Au, Liberal MPs Wilson Miao (Richmond Centre) and Parm Bains (Steveston-Richmond East) and BC NDP MLA Henry Yao.
“We must, as a community, say that we will support the people of Ukraine...they are resolute, they are strong, they are courageous, but they need our support,” said Brodie. “This an international and important global situation, and we cannot set a precedent, any kind of a precedent, by just allowing the situation to deteriorate even further than it has.”
Au, who co-organized the rally, told the Richmond News earlier this week that the idea of holding the event was triggered by community members who were eager to show their support for Ukrainians.
“Our country is founded upon principles such as democracy and freedom and it has the second-largest Ukrainian population outside Ukraine,” he said at the time. “Therefore, we cannot stand by and watch Ukrainian people there.”
The Russian flag was taken down from the Richmond Olympic Oval on Monday. City council also voted unanimously that day to raise the Ukrainian flag on No. 3 Road.
Russia's ongoing attack has prompted condemnation around the world and triggered a raft of sanctions.
Canada has joined the European Union and the United States to impose a series of sanctions against Russia targeting major banks and oil refineries as the Russian forces press their advance on the capital Kyiv.
Canada will also prioritize immigration applications for Ukrainians who come to Canada.