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'Toronto stands with freedom': Thousands march downtown in support of Ukraine


A sea of blue and yellow flags could be spotted in Toronto’s downtown core as thousands of people marched through the streets Sunday afternoon in support of the Ukrainian people.

The crowd originally gathered at Dundas and Yonge streets before slowly making their way to Nathan Phillips Square.

“We’re here today to give out the message that all these people here, Ukrainians, Canadians, every people from every walk of life are here to support Ukraine,” President of Ukrainian-Canadian Congress Peter Schturyn said.

Among those leading the march were Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who took a moment to speak to the crowd once they arrived outside of city hall.

“I think all of us today should let the people of Ukraine know, the leaders of Ukraine know, how much we admire them. We know they are fighting for all of us,” she said while standing at the podium.

Freeland also issued a warning to Russia, saying the country has a choice to end “this barbaric war” or suffer the consequences.

“The West is relentless and we will cut the Russian economy off from contact with our own.”

Russian troops have slowly been advancing into the country, heading for the capital of Kyiv, since the early hours on Thursday. Scattered fighting has been reported and numerous explosions have erupted across the city, including near the airport.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries in hopes of escaping the violence.

On Sunday, ahead of talks between the two countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin put nuclear forces on high alert.

Canada has announced multiple financial sanctions against Russia and on Sunday said its airspace will be shut to all Russian aircraft operators.

At the Toronto “Mega March”, people held signs that said “end war” and “Ukraine strong” and shouted chants denouncing Putin, saying he can "go to hell." 

Mayor John Tory, standing near the flag of Ukraine, told CP24 that Kyiv has been Toronto’s “sister city” for 30 years and its residents stand with them in solidarity.

“Toronto stands with freedom. The people of Toronto stand with their friends,” Tory said ahead of the March.

“We have such a wonderful Ukrainian Canadian community here in the city … this is a big atrocity and it is time to stand up and say no and that is what we’re here doing in Toronto.”

One participant told CP24 that that some of his family is in a bomb shelter due to non-stop air attacks while his nearly 90-year-old mother is stuck in her apartment.

“Our families suffer, our friends suffer. We are here to support them,” the man said. “The whole world has to unite and help Ukrainians through these dark times.”

Another person said her family is in hiding and have told her that buildings nearby are shaking from all of the explosions.

“It’s impossible to move anywhere now,” she said. “They’re blocked and a lot of people trying to go to Poland to escape the war, they spend two days on the border and they can’t even cross and they go back.”

The march comes a day after rallies were held outside of the U.S. and Russian consulates in Toronto. The organizers said the gatherings were not only meant to spread awareness of what was happening overseas but also to call for more support in terms of funding and weapons. Top Stories

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