About 50 people braved frigid temperatures to gather outside the Rotary Interpretive Centre at Derek Doubleday Arboretum in Langley on Friday, Feb. 24, to mark the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with a candlelight vigil to show support for the embattled country.
Langley Township Councillor Michael Pratt, one of the participants, called it “a bittersweet moment.”
“I’m definitely hoping not to have another vigil a year from now,” Pratt told the Langley Advance Times following the vigil, one of several held in B.C. and throughout the rest of Canada.
Those present included Langley – Aldergrove Conservative MP Tako van Popta, and Fleetwood – Port Kells Liberal MP Ken Hardie, who are among the more than 300 prominent Canadians who were banned by the Russian government for their support of Ukraine.
Hardie, who spoke at the vigil, later said he hoped Russian mothers, who are seeing their sons come home in body bags, will “rise up and get changes made.”
Hardie noted Canada is sending eight tanks to Ukraine, commenting “we can do that because we don’t have someone on our border threatening to invade.”
READ ALSO: Langley-Aldergrove MP on list of politicians banned from Russia
Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag, who has also been banned by the Russians, posted a message of support from Europe, where he has been meeting with members of the Ukrainian Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
“It is truly heartbreaking to hear their stories of loss and what their country continues to experience,” Aldag said.
In Victoria, Municipal Affairs Minister Anne Kang issued a statement of support, noting more than 11,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in B.C. since the war started.
“As the war continues, it is important that we stay unwavering in our efforts to help those in need,” Kang said.
“The unfortunate truth is that the end of this conflict is not in sight.”
READ ALSO: Canada sending four more battle tanks, ammo to Ukraine as rallies held across Canada
Since Feb. 24, more than 150,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Canada. More than half a million applications have been approved.
According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner, 18,955 civilian casualties were confirmed in Ukraine as of Feb. 13 – 7,199 killed and 11,756 injured. The actual figures are believed to be considerably higher.
Over the last year, Canada has pledged more than $5 billion to supporting Ukraine.
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