Hundreds of people gathered at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Sunday (Feb. 27) in a rally supporting Ukraine in the face of a Russian invasion.
Organized by the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, the event featured provincial politicians who urged Ottawa for greater Ukrainian military aid and Russian sanctions.
Devon Sereda Goldie, president of the cultural center and Victoria’s branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said what surprised her the most since Russia launched the invasion on Feb. 24 has been the resulting outpouring of unity and generosity for Ukraine. Over the Feb. 26 weekend, cities across Canada were the scenes of large rallies calling for an end to Russia’s aggression in Europe and more action from Western leaders.
Goldie said there were four demands by her group for Canada to propose to Western leaders against Russia: the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine to allow commercial departures and deter the Russian air force; the provision of anti-aircraft, anti-rocket and naval weapon systems to Ukraine; a full trade embargo with Russia; and the ban of Russia from SWIFT, a global financial system that links the civilian banking institutions of more than 200 countries. Several Russian banks have now been banned from SWIFT.
Following the afternoon’s speeches, Victoria NDP MP Laurel Collins told Black Press Media that her party plans to push Ottawa to find and seize the Canadian assets of Russian oligarchs.
“Right now, Canada should be doing everything they can to promote peace in that region. We are in a dire situation where (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has launched the most horrific kind of aggression, threatening nuclear warfare. It is unbelievable.”
Rob Fleming, provincial minister of transportation, told the crowd that all members of every party of the provincial legislature condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, as “deplorable to everyone who cares about democracy and freedom in the world.”
Fleming said Canada “must bring the fight for peace. We must use every opportunity we have, and we must use every measure we can to aid the people of Ukraine.”
Victoria City Coun. Stephen Andrew commended the Canadian government’s commitment to Ukrainian refugee settlement. On Feb. 25, Ottawa announced additional immigration support for Ukrainian refugees, which may reach into the millions.
Victoria will accept them and has already begun the discussion of resettlement programs.