A bakery in Toronto was vandalized with anti-Ukrainian, pro-Russian graffiti overnight on Feb. 8 while tensions remain high on Ukraine's border with Russia.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) released a statement later that day in regards to hate speech that was spray-painted overnight at Future Bakery, owned by Borys Wrzesnewskyj, a former member of Canada’s parliament. Wrzesnewskyj and the Ukrainian Canadian community have previously been the targets of Russian state-led disinformation campaigns.
The Ukrainian-owned business had a mural and a #StandWithUkraine banner on display that were defaced with derogatory comments. Among them the phrases “F*ck Ukrian (sic) and Canada” and "Russia is power" were spray-painted on the banner.
"This isn’t just graffiti, nor is it just an act of vandalism. This is an attempt to intimidate,” Wrzesnewskyj told local media. "It’s a hate crime."
Alexandra Chyczij, the President of the UCC, said they "will not be intimidated by cowards who hate our freedoms and our way of life."
"The Ukrainian Canadian Congress calls on law enforcement to promptly and thoroughly investigate this act of hate against the Ukrainian Canadian community. This craven attack shows the importance of effectively fighting disinformation campaigns led by the Russian state that target Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian and other Central and East European communities,” Chyczij was quoted as saying. The UCC has long advocated for the Canadian government to take seriously the influence of Russian state-led disinformation campaigns.
It is unknown if Toronto police will investigate the incident as a hate crime.
The vandalism comes as the Canadian government sends non-lethal military aid to Ukraine that includes personal protective and load carriage equipment, as well as surveillance and detection equipment. A team of Canadian Armed Forces is accompanying the equipment to assist with its integration.