Thousands gathered in Vancouver on Saturday (Feb. 26) to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The protest began around 1 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery before the crowd marched down Hornby Street to Jack Poole Plaza. The streets of downtown Vancouver rang out with chants of “stand with Ukraine” and “Slava Ukraini” or “Glory to Ukraine”.
Several speakers, including Ukrainian Canadians, the consul generals of Britain, Poland, Ireland, as well as local MPs and MLAs addressed the crowd and expressed their support for Ukraine.
Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed spoke to the crowd but was drowned out by cries demanding the federal government “do more now” to support Ukraine.
“We will do more. And we will not stop until Ukraine is free,” he said in response.
Denis Polishchuk was one of the speakers at the rally. He served with the Ukrainian army in 2015 during skirmishes on Ukraine’s eastern border when Russia moved to annex Crimea and the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk. Polishchuk called on Canada to send more aid to Ukraine.
“I’ve been speaking with my brothers and sisters in arms in Kyiv who are bravely — every night — defending the city from Russian invaders. They have several requests: they need body armour, they need medicine and radio communications. This is what they are asking from us… we have to do our job here.”
“I talk to them every day,” he added. “They are completely moved by the support from the Canadian community and from the global community.”
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 Kelowna, Penticton and Victoria among others. Several protests are planned in Canadian cities and towns throughout the weekend.
As the protest took place, Canada, the U.S. and E.U. moved to block Russia from the SWIFT global payment system. This move will disconnect some Russian banks from access to the international financial system.