‘The war is not over’: Calgarians continue to rally in support of Ukraine months into Russian invasion

With flags and fists in the air, Calgarians rallied on Sunday to stand in support of those in Ukraine suffering through the effects of war.

The rally, organized by Calgary’s branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), took place at Poppy Plaza Sunday evening. 

Olena Sadovnik, who attended the rally, arrived in Canada from Ukraine on July 6. She remembers what it was like when Russian forces began circling the city of Kyiv.

“We spent the week living on the floor. Our apartment was barricaded,” she said. 

“I hope that was the worst week in my life.”

Sadovnik, whose husband is still in Ukraine doing humanitarian work, says while it’s encouraging to see Canadians support the Ukrainian people, she hopes the government will step up with financial, political and military support. 

It has been more than five months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February of this year. Thousands have died since the start of the war. 

‘A sign of human solidarity’

Sanzhar Baiseitov, one of the rally organizers, said it’s clear local attention to the war in Ukraine has dwindled. Attendance at Sunday’s event was much smaller than the hundreds who participated in rallies in support of Ukraine earlier this year.

Baiseitov said Calgarians should remember the fight is ongoing.

“The war is not over and the severity of war is not going down,” he said.

“Cities, villages, towns are being bombarded on a daily basis in Ukraine.”

Wrapped in a Ukrainian flag, Olena Sadovnik attended Sunday’s rally in support of her home country. She fled the war and arrived in Canada on July 6. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Baiseitov immigrated to Canada from Kazakhstan 13 years ago. When he watched the war commence, he felt he had to do something in support of Ukraine, especially since Kazakhstan also has a tense relationship with Russia.

He said attending rallies and supporting the Ukrainian effort in any small way can make a difference.

“We can’t stand by and [watch] this happen,” Baiseitov said.

While the turnout may have been smaller than expected, several cars honked as they drove by the rally at Poppy Plaza. For Sadovnik, even that small support means a lot. 

“It’s a sign of human solidarity,” she said. 

A resolve that never dies

Stephania Romaniuk, another rally organizer with UCC, said with any long term cause, support will naturally increase and decrease over time. But she’s confident local support for Ukraine remains strong.

Within the local Ukrainian community, Romaniuk said there is a level of weariness many are feeling. 

“There’s only so much that a person can process,” she said.

“Certainly someone who has traveled from Ukraine, there’s trauma that actually has existed from coming from a war torn country.”

The fact that Ukrainians around the world have not given up hope after months of Russian invasion shows how they “will fight to the bitter end” Romaniuk said. 

“That resolve to live freely on their old land will never die.”

Sunday’s rally in support of Ukraine took place at Poppy Plaza. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Romaniuk said she hopes to see more Calgarians come to future events and support the Ukrainian cause as she believes there is no option to give up now.

“If Russia stops fighting, there will be no more war. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no more Ukraine.”

UCC Calgary is holding a free Independence Day concert on Aug. 28 at Ukrainian Pioneers Park to support the war effort. 

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