Rally held outside Kelowna City Hall by Ukrainian community

Rally in support of Ukraine

Madison Erhardt

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.

Members of the Okanagan Ukrainian community gathered on the steps of Kelowna City Hall in solidarity after Russia's invasion.

Denys Storozhuk was born in Ukraine and came to Kelowna 20 years ago.

Storozhuk says he was watching the news Wednesday with his family and couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"The only thing I feel is shock, but actually I am also proud for the Ukrainian army and Putin resistance."

Storozhuk says his uncle and aunt are in Kyiv.

"He said, of course, there was some panic in the morning and some groceries missing from the store like bread and canned products, but in general in all works as usual."

Storozhuk says his 19-year-old son came up with the idea to host a rally at city hall.

"It's for exposure and of course, the final goal is to ask the Canadian government to impose not only tough sanctions but more objective help."

At 4 p.m. dozens of community members held flags and stood together on the front lawn.

"In Ukraine, I grew up and I know who they are. That is why we are here. To say to the world and especially to the Kelowna community that we have to do something. To pray for peace for Ukraine and for the whole world because if we aren't going to stop that guy... Putin with his nation and his armed forces it could be a Third World War," said Danylo Sora.

"I have some flowers and a card that I brought from my faith community and I was just mentioning that this is a true display of flags requesting freedom, looking for freedom. This is the real thing," Steven Finkleman.

If you would like to support the humanitarian aid for Ukraine visit https://www.cufoundation.ca

ORIGINAL 1:30 p.m.

A rally in support of Ukrainians will be held outside Kelowna City Hall Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday evening, Russia began a coordinated attack on several Ukrainian cities and the invasion has continued through Thursday.

Ukrainian-born Kelowna-resident Denys Storozhuk was shocked when he heard the news. But as his family spent Wednesday evening watching news coverage of the invasion from the other side of the world, Storozhuk's 19-year-old son suggested holding a rally here in Kelowna.

They're hoping to bring attention to the crisis in Ukraine, while pressuring the Canadian government to provide more support.

“Our final goal is to ask the Canadian government to impose not only tough sanctions but more substantial and direct help – financial, weapons, whatever possible,” Storozhuk said.

“I'm sure that many Russians or people from other parts of former Soviet Union support the cause as well ... most of the people of Russian decent as well are supportive and are praying for Ukrainians.”

Storozhuk was born in Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine that's been under attack from Russian forces since Wednesday night. He also lived in Moscow for several years for school, before moving to Kelowna 20 years ago.

“I was of course scared of escalations over the last [few] months, without any particularly reason, but my heart still believed it was just a bluff of Putin, as he's done many times,” Storozhuk said.

“I was shocked that it's really happening and I just couldn't believe it.”

Those in the Okanagan looking to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people can join Storozhuk Thursday afternoon outside Kelowna City Hall at 4 p.m.

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