On a rainy Wednesday morning outside Vernon City Hall, Mayor Victor Cumming stood under a blue and white umbrella and declared his support and solidarity on behalf of the city for Ukraine Blue and Yellow.
After Cumming and Andrea Malysh, a well-known member of Vernon’s Ukrainian community, finished addressing a crowd of nearly 75 gathered outside the main entrance of City Hall, the flag of Ukraine was flown above the entrance between the flags of Canada and British Columbia with the Reverend Stepan Dovhoshyia of Vernon’s St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Church leading the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem.
“These are unimaginable, unnecessary and heartbreaking circumstances,” Cumming said. “To our Ukrainian-Canadian neighbors and friends, and to all Ukrainians around the world, we cannot fully imagine the concern or grief you may feel as news of this invasion continues to progress.
“We stand with you, offering our thoughts and prayers for this tragic violence to end; for the health and protection of those who defend their homes; and for the comfort and care of all those affected by these events.
Malysh thanked the city for its solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
“Family and friends are fighting for their lives,” she said. “Ukrainians are fighting for democracy and freedom because the alternative is unacceptable. They have to fight. Ukraine is their homeland.
“History shows that Ukrainians are resilient, fiery and tough people. These are the traits that have sustained them in the past and will help them through the tough times ahead. »
Malysh denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, calling him a war criminal who must be held accountable for his crimes against humanity.
More than 650,000 Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion on February 24.
There are ways for residents of the North Okanagan to help those living in Ukraine.
A GoFundMe campaign launched by the Canada-Ukraine Foundation encourages people to use #HelpUkraineNow on social media. The campaign, starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, raised $1.3 million.
The Canadian Red Cross launched the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. The Government of Canada matched the first $10 million donated to the fund, while the Province of British Columbia pledged $1 million to the Red Cross.
The Congress of Ukrainian Canadians is also accepting donations on its website at ucc.ca.
The Ukrainian flag will fly over Vernon Town Hall for three weeks.
“Let those of Ukrainian descent know that you are not alone,” Cumming said.