Edmonton, CANADA - Cold weather and mittened hands may have muffled the applause, but it did nothing to quiet the shouts of "Slava Ukrainy!" and "Weapons for Ukraine!" as thousands gathered in front of Alberta's legislature late on Feb. 24.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, long predicted by the West, with volleys of cruise missiles and other weapons stretched into its second day, thousands of concerned Ukrainian-Canadians took to streets in Edmonton and other cities to show their solidarity with Ukraine.
Alberta is home to many people with connections to Ukraine. More than 345,000 Albertans have Ukrainian heritage, according to the provincial government.
In a scene that is being repeated across Canada and around the world, Ukrainian-Canadians, expats and concerned citizens anxiously listened to speeches from community leaders and elected officials in order to voice support Ukraine and to urge their government to take strong and decisive steps against Russia.
Speakers representing the Alberta government announced an additional $1 million Canadian dollars in funding to humanitarian aid to Ukraine and that a strong push would be made to the federal government to remove the current visa requirement for Ukrainians seeking to enter Canada.
“The Ukrainian armed forces and the Ukrainian people will resist and will fight for their freedom until the day that the Russian enemy is expelled from their land,” the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council said in a statement.
“The governments of the free world state that they stand with Ukraine. They must do so now in deed, not in word. All efforts must be marshalled in the coming days in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to statehood and self-determination. Putin and his criminal regime will meet the end that awaits all tyrants and despots.”
Putin has called Ukraine an "artificial creation" carved from Russia by its enemies, a characterization Ukrainians and Western allies call shocking and false. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Putin's aim was to destroy his state: "Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won't give up its freedom, no matter what Moscow thinks."