On Saturday, a large crowd gathered at Grand Parade to show support to Ukraine after the country's sovereignty was attacked by Russian military forces last week. People carried umbrellas in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag, with messages for NATO to act now or to shut the sky. Others had banners calling for a someone to stop Russian president Vladimir Putin, telling the Russian warship to “go fuck yourself” or joined the calls to ban Russia from SWIFT, the banking system commonly used in international trade.
Members of the Nova Scotian chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress—the UCC organized this Saturday demonstration—told The Coast that they did not necessarily see the gathering as a protest, because they agree with the position of the Canadian government in the conflict.
The demonstration in front of City Hall started with a land acknowledgement, followed by the Canadian and Ukrainian anthems, and a moment of silence and reflection to remember the victims of the conflict. Different speakers from the UCC and the Ukrainian community in Halifax at large condemned Russian attacks on Ukraine’s sovereignty. UCC sees this call to action as an opportunity to raise awareness among Haligonians on what is happening in Ukraine and, for the Ukrainians in Halifax, to find a sense of community in troubled times.
"There is a lot of stress, anxiety and uncertainty among the Ukrainians living in Halifax at the moment," says Stas Serebriakov, a UCC member.
How can you support Ukraine?
Global Shapers, a network of people under 30 "working together to address local, regional and global challenges," created a list of resources with the support of the cabinet of ministers of Ukraine. You can find ways to donate, send humanitarian help, join a protest in your city, host Ukrainians, spread the word on social media, sign petitions or influence your local authorities directly.
In Halifax, a local member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Anastasiia Mereshchuk, has started selling t-shirts, at $25 each, to raise funds for humanitarian support to Ukraine.
CTV News reports other members of the Ukrainian community in the Maritimes are collecting items to send to Ukraine, including blankets, sleeping bags, non-perishable food and hygiene products. These items can be dropped off at 1 Kingswood Drive, Unit 200, in Hammonds Plains.
Canada’s new measures in support of Ukraine
Prime minister Justin Trudeau’s message is that “this unnecessary war must stop now.”
During remarks from Ottawa today, Monday afternoon, alongside the ministers of finance, defence and immigration, Trudeau said the government asked the CRTC—the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission—to start the process of reviewing the Canadian presence of Russia Today, the Russian state-owned news agency.
At the same time, Trudeau emphasized that the CRTC and its review process is independent. He said “the independence of journalists in this country is something we have to take great care in.”
Trudeau shared there are discussions with other countries in the G7 to “hold Putin and his oligarchs accountable.”
Besides the previously announced removal of Russia from SWIFT, Canada is prohibiting direct or indirect deals with the Russian banking system and banning exports of Russian oil.
Chrystia Freeland, the deputy prime minister and minister of finance, characterized the Russian attacks on Ukraine as a “barbaric invasion” and said “Ukraine is positioning itself as the moral voice of the free world.” Freman applauded “the incredible strength of a free people fighting for democracy” and detailed “the toughest sanctions ever imposed on a major economy.”
In coordination with NATO, Canada announced that it is providing lethal aid to Ukrainian armed forces, including 2,000 rockets. These will be delivered “as quickly as possible” in the coming days, according to national defence minister Anita Anand.
Canada is preparing new pathways to welcome Ukrainians “in the quickest and safest way possible”
During the Monday remarks, Central Nova MP/minister of immigration Sean Fraser shared that the government has been preparing for a month to face this situation. Since January, immigration, refugees and citizenship Canada (IRCC) has implemented protocols to prioritize applications from Ukraine and from Ukrainian nationals currently living in Canada. According to Fraser, some 4,000 applications from Ukraine were approved across various immigration programs. The minister said that the fees have been waived in these applications.
The government is working on safe passage for Canadian citizens and permanent residents currently in Ukraine to return to Canada. The embassies and consulates in countries surrounding Ukraine have been reinforced to respond to the new flux of applications to come to Canada “in the quickest and safest way possible,” Fraser said during his remarks.
IRCC has also established a channel for Ukraine enquiries, available both in Canada and abroad, by phoning 613-321-4243, and messages to the IRCC web form with the keyword "Ukraine2022" will be prioritized. The measures also include prioritizing the renewal of work and study permits for Ukrainian nationals temporarily in Canada.