July 12th, 2024

Flag ceremony honours Ukrainians killed in conflict


By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 27, 2024.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan Members of the Ukrainian community watch as the Ukrainian flag is raised on Friday evening at City Hall in memory of the victims of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

A memorial flag raising event at City Hall on Friday honoured Ukrainians who have died in the war with Russia.

The event marked the second-year anniversary of the war.

“It is so sad moment for me. But at the same time, it is a special day. And I was able to raise the Ukrainian flag in the memory of Ukrainian people who was died in this devastating war, and who lost everything lives and houses and parents and friends,” said president of soon-to-be-recognized Lethbridge chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Mila Wagner on Friday.

“I still have my family in Ukraine. That’s why it means a lot to me. I would be able to remember, like this sadness, this pain, my tears on this terrible, terrible day.”

The flag-raising also included a candlelight vigil for Ukrainian community members to remember their friends and family members who are still in their homeland.

“Vice president Lethbridge chapter of the Congress Victor Bla Zahenko shared his feelings and the concerns he still has for his family and friends in Ukraine.

“Today is the two-year anniversary of full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. And that means a lot. Because it’s two years of pain, of fear. Since the war started, we live with that every day. Just wake up every day with some feeling inside of us. How is our family over there? How is our friends, and everybody who is really valuable for us?” said Bla Zahenko.

Wagner talked about the purpose of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Lethbridge chapter being created and the impact she is hoping it can have.

“We are trying to organize the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Lethbridge branch in order to bring in all the Ukrainians. So, our word, voice will be heard. And in order to do so in order to be able to get together for the future. And we can be recognized as a nation, and we would be able to give our culture language and our identity,” she said.

Mykhailo Pereverza of Project Sunflower voiced his feelings and what it was like in Ukraine in the early hours of the war.

“It’s really sad to be here now, and thinking that war broke out two years ago… Our country was bombed and it just was terrible. That’s why I think it’s very important for all people who’s here now. And for people who wasn’t able to come here today. It’s very important, who we are. I don’t think we ever (will) forget,” said Pereverza.

Wagner expressed her gratefulness for Canada’s assistance in helping Ukrainians escaping the war come here and the support the Canadian government has shown to support Ukraine.

“We are so grateful to the Canadian government, for whatever they have done already for the Ukrainians for the help and support. But we also are looking forward into the future support and so our voice will be heard about the terrible situation in the Ukraine, the people (who are) still killed.

(Who are) killed in every day with missiles and so much attack from Russia. And we are hoping that the Canadian government will hear us and will help us in the future to get settled here in Canada, and also (for the) support the Ukrainian culture,” said Wagner.

Bla Zahenko also expressed his gratitude to Canada for the support Ukraine has received.

“We pay our respect to a Canadian government organizations, and every Canadian that contributed and support them to build their new life here. I hope (for a) better life one day,” he said.

Pereverza, also voiced his appreciation for the supports given to Ukraine by Canada.

“I want to thank Canadian government for helping Ukrainians. (At) the same time, I want to ask them to increase help, especially (with) weapons. Because unfortunately, Russia doesn’t understand anything but force and without weapons, we won’t be able to fight back. So, we need help with weapons,” said Pereverza.

Wagner recalled the sadness felt by Ukrainians.

“God bless Canada, and God bless everybody who was able to attend this event today. Even it was such a sadness and such a terrible situation. I am so grateful to everybody. Thank you,” she said.

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