It was supposed to be a calm service to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, but it erupted into a screaming match between Russian-speaking people in Winnipeg and members of the Ukrainian community.
The service was to begin with a quiet walk to the cenotaph located on Memorial Boulevard and York Avenue, but tempers flared when some Russian-speaking people showed up wearing St. George ribbons as part of Russian Victory Day.
The ribbons were met with hostility by Ukrainian community members, some of them saying the ribbons were offensive because they are currently being worn by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Ivan Marynovsky, who was wearing Ukrainian colours, got into a heated debate over the ribbon, but there were many Russians at the rally who chose to wear the Canadian poppy instead of the St. George ribbon.
A woman named Galina, who speaks Russian, was one of those to wear the poppy.
She said wearing the ribbons was in poor taste.
"It offends me, because the people who are wearing the same ribbons in Ukraine are killing Ukrainians, are killing innocent people, they are taking hostages," Galina said. "The poppy in Canada is a sign of remembrance, and so we wanted to take away from the tension with the ribbons. We wanted to represent the remembrance with the poppies.”
At one point a dramatic confrontation broke out with each side waving flags in each other’s faces and breaking out into traditional patriotic songs.