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Ukrainian community memorial event on Feb. 23

Sofiya Kominko (Vancouver)

In the last three months, Ukrainians have risen to the streets in an attempt to overthrow a highly corrupt and authoritative government. Last week, the peaceful demonstrations took a violent turn, where Ukraine’s special defense forces “Berkut” used firearms against civilians, killing nearly 100 innocent men and women.

On Sunday, February 23rd, the Ukrainian community of Vancouver gathered once again to stand in solidarity with the victims of the current political crisis in Ukraine. Local Ukrainian churches held a special memorial service for the fallen heroes, after which supporters marched in an auto-rally to the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

Prior to Sunday’s event, Nadia Stefyn, an active organizer of the auto-rally, received a phone call from the Vancouver Police Department with an offer to help the protestors.  Police officers blocked off Cambie bridge in downtown Vancouver and accompanied protestors to CBC News headquarters, where media personnel were awaiting the group. Another group of supporters marched by foot alongside the brightly decorated cars of blue and yellow.

Ukrainians sing their national anthem to commemorate the heroes who died last week

Following the Vancouver auto-rally, a benefit concert was held where the Ukrainian band “New Wave” performed commemorative pieces. Local reporters and journalists were present throughout the day and interviewed numerous participants.  The concert started with a prayer for the victims, led by Father Roman Tsaplan, followed by a moment of silence. Ukrainians collected money for families of Ukrainian Heroes that lost their lives last week and for the Community TV in Ukraine that streams all events from maidan since its beginning at the end of November 2013.

Also present was MP Mark Warawa, who has actively supported the Ukrainian community in this time of great distress. Svitlana Kominko, a Ukrainian community activist expressed her sincere gratitude to the Canadian government and MP Mark Warawa for continuous support of the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom and human rights.  “When Europe was silent, Canada took a lead in supporting Ukrainians in this most difficult time of the Ukrainian history since its independence in 1991”, said Svitlana Kominko.

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