June 23rd, 2024

City stands in solidarity with Ukraine

By Lethbridge Herald on February 28, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Misha Pereverza, one of the main organizers of the Ukraine Solidarity Rally, waves the Ukranian flag among a throng of singing and chanting supporters this weekend outside of Lethbridge City Hall.

Dale Woodard – Lethbridge Herald

As Ukraine continues to deal with attacks from Russia, anti-war protests in support of the country have taken place in numerous countries.

On Saturday, that rally went local as a large throng of supporters for Ukraine gathered at Lethbridge City Hall for a Ukraine Solidarity Rally.

A few hundred supporters gathered just before 11 a.m. with flags waving, singing and chanting and holding signs declaring “Stand With Ukraine”, “Proud To Be Ukrainian”, “Stop War” and “Shelter Our Sky”.

Among those attendees was main organizer Misha Pereverza, who has a sister and two nieces in Ukraine.

When news of the invasion broke, Pereverza knew he couldn’t sit idly by, even on the other side of the globe.

“Everything started (Thursday) around 10 p.m. here in Canada and when my wife received a call from Ukraine that the war had started,” he said. “I wasn’t able to just sit. It was something internal inside me telling me I have to do something. It’s not that I was able to do much, but still, this is a small thing we can do here. But we try to do our best.”

Pereverza’s wife’s mother and father, two brothers and six nieces and nephews also reside in Ukraine.

“It’s a huge family and they are under the bombing right now,” he said. “They just sit in a basement. It’s terrible. I just cannot imagine anybody sitting in a basement and thinking some bomb might fly into your house.”

Fellow event organizer Devon Hargreaves helped get the Ukraine flag up at City Hall as well as spreading the word with Pereverza about Saturday’s rally.

“We’re thrilled to see a great turnout today,” he said. “It’s great to see the people of Lethbridge coming out to support our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. Canada is home to the third-highest population of Ukrainians outside of the Ukraine itself and just to see that support and that love from our community in Lethbridge is phenomenal.

“By holding rallies like we are today it’s showing a strong support of solidarity, it’s supporting the steps our government has taken to sanction Russia and Putin and I hope it gets back to our family and friends in the Ukraine and sends a strong message that the rest of the world is watching. We are there and we do support.”

Like Pereverza, Hargreaves also has family in Ukraine.

“So it’s a very personal issue for me as well,” he said. “I was just talking to a friend who was showing me pictures of conscripted friends of his from the Ukraine who just signed up for the army and are going to war.”

Hargreaves said he has had no direct contact with his family in the Ukraine since the attacks began.

“My mom texted me (Friday) night that she had talked to them. They are safe at the moment, but we still see things develop and we are watching it with great concern.”

Rally supporter Tom Frankish held up a cellphone picture.

“These are my homies and another friend I don’t know, ‘’ he said. “They’ve all been conscripted to fight in the war. Most of my friends who I know in the Ukraine have been conscripted, save for one, and he didn’t because he’s 17. It’s hard to describe and it’s hard to sit here on the other side of the world while your friends are in harm’s way and I think to myself ‘What can I do to help?’ It’s hard to do.”

Frankish said he also has friends on the Russian side who have been arrested at anti-war protests.

“One of them has a broken nose and the other one has a broken rib bone. I don’t know if it’s gone through with the SWIFT payment systems, but I helped my buddies out. I gave some money to their mom to bail them out of jail. Thankfully, they are out and recovering. The Ukraine is a whole world away, but even to young fellas like me, it still affects.”

As Saturday’s rally continued, Frankish grabbed a few more images to send to his friends in Ukraine.

“Right now, they are busy in combat, I would assume,” he said. “But whenever they see these images, it’s going to mean a lot to them, even if it’s something as simple as this.”

Pereverza said he was happy with Saturday’s turnout.

“It’s a lot more than I expected. So I’m happy. For the last couple of days, I didn’t sleep too much. I was trying to organize all of this and talk to everybody I know and trying to gather information all around the Ukraine, from east to west, south to north. Everywhere. People are scared.”

Pereverza said people have to ask the Canadian government to help assist Ukraine as much as they can.

“Let’s pray, for now, for Ukraine. Help us, please.”

Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter

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Southern Albertan

This invasion of Ukraine has changed the world. The thought of a 65 km Russian convoy descending on Kyiv makes the recent Canadian ‘freedom convoys’ truly look pale and trite. Isn’t it something that this invasion of Ukraine truly, puts ‘freedom’ into perspective.

Last edited 2 years ago by Southern Albertan
John P Nightingale

Indeed it does.
Those parliamentarians and some Canadians who support without question their caterwauling calls for insurrection and claims of “communism” etc, really need to expand their collective horizons and consider what it means to really live under a dictatorship or a communist state – places where so called “freedom of speech” and the “right for peaceful assembly” simply is non-existent.