Content warning: This article contains descriptions of war.
On February 27, thousands rallied in downtown Toronto to protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The crowd gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square before marching to Nathan Phillips Square. One group of protesters carried a large blue and yellow flag through the streets. Others held signs criticizing Russian president Vladimir Putin and demanding the protection of Ukrainian airspace.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was one of the people at the forefront of the march and took the stage at Nathan Phillips Square to address the crowd. “Over the past few days, the whole world has seen how remarkable Ukraine is — how remarkable the Ukrainian people are,” she said.
She also referred to Ukraine as “the battleground in the world between democracy and dictatorship.” This fight, she said, determines whether the post-WWII international order will stand.
“I am so proud that Canada sent lethal aid to Ukraine before this war started. And we, with our allies, are going to continue supporting that Ukrainian war effort,” she told the crowd.
The president of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, Alexandra Chyczij, was among the rally’s other speakers.
“We need to protect the beautiful blue skies of Ukraine. We need to keep the machines of death out — those that rain down bombs on civilian populations… NATO must declare and enforce a no-fly zone,” she said. Her statement was met with cheers from the crowd.
Other notable attendees at the march included Toronto mayor John Tory and author Margaret Atwood.
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