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'We have hope': Sask. marks 2 years since invasion of Ukraine with candle lighting and flag raising

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On Friday at the legislative building, people gathered in recognition of the anniversary of the war in Ukraine. The event featured a ceremonial candle lighting and speakers.

Two years ago on Feb. 24, Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine, which changed the lives of many forever, one of those lives being that of Olha Kolos.

“I wish Ukrainians to live in peace, because we are really peaceful people, we like to work, we like to work with the ground with our gardens. We don’t want the war, nobody wants,” she said.

Kolos arrived in Saskatchewan in June of 2022 with her family after her fears for the safety of her three children grew too big to ignore.

She spoke about her experience at an event marking the anniversary in the legislative building.

“At their tender age, my children know what fighter jets and explosions sound like, how to sleep with their clothes on the floor and sit in the bomb shelter. We made a hard decision to take them as far from the war as we can, to Canada,” Kolos said in her speech.

Since the invasion, the province has sent five planes to bring Ukrainians seeking refuge to Saskatchewan.

“Our responsibility right from day one has been to welcome Ukrainians. We have over 130,000 people of Ukrainian descent in Saskatchewan, which is about 13 per cent of our province,” explained Terry Dennis, MLA for Canora-Pelly and secretary for Ukrainian relations.

“They came here years ago and helped build the province so I think it’s only fitting that we welcome them and help them start a new life here.”

With such a large Ukrainian population in the province, this is a matter that hits very close to home for many.

“It’s emotional, it’s difficult, but we have hope, our people are resilient, hard working, tenacious and are looking forward to that victory for Ukraine,” said Elena Krueger, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan.

As for Kolos, it has been an emotional time but she continues to have hope.

“I want to continue to ask you to support us. I want to ask you to stand with Ukraine until our victory. For the name of justice and peace,” she said.

About 100 people gathered in front of Regina City Hall to mark the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine. (Gareth Dillistone / CTV News)

Meanwhile, more than 100 people gathered at Regina city hall to mark the somber anniversary.

Ukrainian Orthodox priests said prayers and everyone sang the Canadian national anthem. Speakers recognized the bravery and sacrifice of those fighting to defeat the Russians.

There were many children in the crowd, who may return to live in Ukraine once the war is over.

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters spoke to those who gathered and helped to raise a flag in front of city hall.

- With files from Gareth Dillistone

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