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Ukrainian community gathers in peaceful rally at Grande Prairie city hall

About 90 members of the local Ukrainian community paid their respects to the fallen and showed up to support all those still fighting against Russian aggressors in Ukraine.

Flags were waved, signs were presented and the colours of Ukraine were on full display in downtown Grande Prairie.

Alina Ovsiy, the organizer of the rally says she moved to Grande Prairie from Ukraine in 2011 and wanted to see the Ukrainian community show up for their people.

“A lot of people are unaware of different ways they can help people in Ukraine right now and I really wanted to bring people together. This was also an idea that came from one of our Facebook groups for Russian-speaking people in Grande Prairie. We have about 200 members in that group,” she says.

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Ovsiy grew up in the city of Poltava, which is located in central east Ukraine, very close to Kharkiv.

“You can see the bombings happening in Kharkiv, which is not far from my home city. I went to University at the National University of Aviation in Kyiv. Watching places where I’ve walked and been being completely destroyed is devastating,” she says.

Ovsiy’s extended family and friends remain in Ukraine and she says they are doing all they can to protect themselves in a time of war.

“Pretty much my entire extended family and many friends are still back home. A lot of people are hiding and staying out of sight in the bottom layer of their houses. I know people that have escaped closer to the Ukraine-Poland Border. Some are in subways, people are doing what they can to survive,” she says.

Osviy says she’s glad to see the local community showing up to support her people. She adds that the next steps are to try and generate as many donations to help Ukraine as possible,

“It showed me that people are willing to come out and stand here with us for something important. Some of these people didn’t know how they can help from home but being here is helping. Donating to Ukrainian churches in Canada is a good place to start, but also Red Cross, and UNICEF,” she adds.

The City of Grande Prairie has raised the Ukrainian flag at city hall and Muskoseepi Park. Mayor Jackie Clayton also mentioned that her mother is Ukrainian and growing up the heritage was a significant part of her life. The sundial at Centre 2000 will also be lit up in Ukrainian colours.

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