Gatherings held in Orangeville and Caledon in support of Ukraine

March 10, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson & Brian Lockhart

Amid the torrent of world condemnation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the community came together at Alexandra Park to show their support for the Ukrainian people on Saturday (March 5).

Around 200 attendees heard from local politicians and Ukrainian leaders, who spoke out against the unprovoked war being waged on their homeland.

Orangeville councillor Joe Andrews, who has Ukrainian heritage, helped organize Sunday’s event and was MC for the proceedings.

Keynote speaker Peter Schturyn, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Toronto Branch opened the rally with a speech against the Russian President Vladmir Putin and the Russian Army.

He described the latter as cowards, shelling civilians in their homes, far from the frontlines, using cruise missiles, bombs and artillery as opposed to being front-line troops on the ground.

He applauded the Ukrainian people for standing their ground and confronting the Russians at every turn, at times stalling the Russian advance. He pointed out the absurdity of Putin’s claim to be rescuing the Ukraine from the grip of a fascist Nazi government, noting the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is a Jew not a Nazi.

It would be pertinent to note here that following WWII, Stalin’s Russia was no friend to the remaining Jewish people of Europe. Indeed, his pogroms are well documented in history.

Following his rousing supportive chant, echoed by the crowd in their native tongue, Mr. Schturyn was followed to the podium by Dufferin–Caledon MP Kyle Seeback, who also condemned the war. He urged Canadians and Canada to further strengthen their support for the Ukraine, saying the government was sending further supplies and invoking sanctions to assist.

Dufferin–Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones who was sporting a scarf given to her by a Ukrainian organizer of the rally, Rayissa Palmer, also offered her and her government’s support, saying the LCBO had been instructed to remove all Russian products from their shelves in a show of solidarity. Jones encouraged people to donate to accepted charities such as the Red Cross as well.

Deputy Mayor of Orangeville Andy McIntosh, who was stepping in for Mayor Brown, who could not attend, said Council was in full support of the Ukraine, with the country’s flag flying at Town Hall.

He thanked the crowd for showing up to demonstrate their unity with the cause.

During all the speeches, the crowd waved their Ukrainian flags and Canadian ones, while listening intently and at times emotionally to what was being said. Several carried signs and placards condemning the invasion.

Following the speeches, the Ukrainian and Canadian National anthems were played to noticeable emotional response. One woman broke down in her husband’s arms as the Ukrainian anthem was heard, others bowed their heads, many wept.

A contingent of OPP officers led by Inspector Terry Ward were in attendance and could be seen standing solemnly at attention and saluting during the anthems. Following the proceedings, the crowds mingled with the speakers before they departed for a similar rally being held in Caledon the same afternoon.

In Caledon, residents wearing Ukrainian colours and waving the national flag gathered at Caledon Town Hall to voice their opposition to the war.

Caledon has a large number of residents of Ukrainian heritage and many of them turned out for this event in a cohesive effort to support their homeland.

Caledon Town Councillor Christina Early, spoke to the crowd, and made the statement, “Glory to Ukraine,” which prompted the crowd to respond with, “glory to the heroes.”

The phrase is well known in Ukraine and has become a rallying cry during this present military conflict.

During the Caledon event, Sylvia Jones delivered another speech.

“Thank you to those of you that joined us in Orangeville as well,” Ms. Jones said. “This really speaks to our community coming together, wanting to be a comfort to our friends and our neighbours, and, of course, to assist in any way possible, the fight in Ukraine. Some individuals will look at this as a simple gesture; I disagree. When I connected (with organizers) I asked what I could do to help. (I was told) stand with us – be with us. Which is what we are doing here as a community today. If you are able, you can personally assist by donating to organizations who are providing assistance in Ukraine – the Canada Ukraine Foundation, the Red Cross, and many others.”

Ms. Jones said the provincial government is working with the federal government to fast-track refugees who want to come to Ontario.

Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson, said, according to the latest census, 11 per cent of residents in Caledon are of Polish/Ukrainian heritage.

“They are devastated by the savage attack and the war from Russia against Ukraine, and it isn’t the first time,” Mayor Thompson said. “We’re here today because we stand with them in the community of citizens around the world condemning Russia.”

A Caledon Fire Department colour guard marched in the meeting area and stood guard by the war memorial cenotaph.

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