Edmontonians come out in droves to support Ukraine as invasion continues
'We have to stop war, because it will hit everybody'
At least 1,000 Edmontonians came out in support of Ukraine Sunday at two separate rallies, as Russian forces continued to advance into the country.
Russian troops have entered Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv, and fighting has broken out on the outskirts of the nation's capital city, Kyiv.
Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly is set to hold an emergency session on Monday.
Vitliy Romanachk attended a rally along 109th Street with his family, where supporters lined up for blocks to show their solidarity. He moved to Canada in 2003, and has now spent half his life here. Watching his home country endure the invasion is incredibly sad, he said.
Romanachk's mother, father, and sister are all still in Ukraine, he told CBC Sunday.
"I'm scared. ... It's bad. [We] can't explain how we feel right now. Our hearts just break," he said.
On Thursday, the first day of the invasion, Romanachk said he couldn't even sleep.
"We have to stop war, because it will hit everybody," he said.
Olha Samotoi also attended the rally on 109th St. She said her family is stranded in the northeastern city of Sumy, and she feels "helpless" watching it happen from half a world away.
"It is hard to talk about this," she said. "We want this war stopped. We want our family safe."
Samotoi called on other citizens and allies to help, saying Ukraine and everyone affected by the invasion doesn't want to be alone.
"If I could, I would go to Ukraine and take my family away from that horrible situation," she said.
Other supporters gather at Legislative Building
Svetlana Koshkareva helped organize a support rally at the Alberta Legislature Sunday morning. She holds Russian citizenship, but has lived in Canada for some time, she said. She burned her passport Sunday in a show of solidarity.
She said it was important for her to get involved because she has her freedom, while the freedoms of people in both Ukraine and Russia are being imposed upon.
Koshkareva wants people to know that Putin is not Russia, she said.
"It's just horror," she said. "And I don't know how to stop it. I'm powerless and I'm not able to change this."
She did say she was surprised that so many people came to her event.
"I think it's very important to be united."
With files from Pippa Reed and the Associated Press