Russia has invaded Ukraine and the Russian army is conducting military operations against Ukrainian people, targeting several cities, including the attempt to take over Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
“We want everybody together, side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder, linked together to show our strength, our unity, for a sovereign, independent, peaceful Ukraine,” Orysia Boychuk, the council’s president, told Postmedia on Saturday.
“We are calling on the community, Albertans, to come, regardless of who they are as long as they are in support of a sovereign, independent Ukraine. We would like to make the link as long as possible, may it stretch both sides of 109 Street, up and down, for kilometres.”
The council is asking supporters to meet at 104 Avenue and 109 Street, the intersection at MacEwan University, at 2 p.m. where the chain will begin its march towards the Alberta legislature as well as north towards Kingsway.
The council said the chain will not block any traffic and supporters are encouraged to wear Ukraine’s colours of blue and yellow.
Boychuk said the events unfolding in Ukraine has been hard on the local Ukrainian community.
“We’re reeling,” she said as she began to choke up.
“We’re just beyond words and it’s just extremely emotional. It’s very, very traumatic for all of us, nobody is sleeping, we’re all glued to the events and we’re very concerned. Everybody is very, very concerned.”
Boychuk said the support has been unbelievable and “very meaningful.”
The local Ukrainian council has received support from Czech and Slovak communities, as well as a letter of support from the local and national Polish community, said Boychuk, who added Mayor Amarjeet Sohi has also reached out to the office to check in on how the community was doing.
“I’m honoured, just absolutely honoured, to be a Canadian, an Albertan, an Edmontonian here and having the support of not just our own community, but the broader community and it’s extremely impactful for us,” said Boychuk.
“It really makes a big difference for us knowing that we are not alone and that the community and Alberta is behind us.”
She said donations to the council’s Ukraine humanitarian appeal have been coming in steadily and its office has been busy trying to answer everyone’s call.
Boychuk said donations are currently going towards basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing for Ukrainian refugees. Anyone interested in donating can contribute online at albertastandswithukraine.ca.