Revelstoke residents gather at Stand for Ukraine vigil

On Mar. 5, Revelstoke residents gathered for a twilight vigil in Grizzly Plaza in support of Ukrainian migrants to the community.

Revelstoke residents gathered for a Stand for Ukraine rally in Grizzly Plaza on Mar. 5, 2022. Speakers included Revelstoke migrants from Ukraine, who evoked the image of a David vs. Goliath struggle and shared stories of the plight of family in Ukraine. Mayor Gary Sulz offered words of support and encouragement. Organizers of the rally say they are planning another event for next Saturday, details TBA. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Revelstoke residents gathered in Grizzly Plaza on the evening of Mar. 5, 2022 for a vigil expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

As the last solar rays emanated from behind the Monashee Mountains, illuminating the crisp blue sky above Revelstoke, about 50 Revelstoke residents gathered in the plaza, holding candles and Ukrainian flags, and listening to brief speeches.

Candlelight and home-made Ukrainian flags at the Mar. 5, 2022 Stand for Ukraine rally in Grizzly Plaza. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Alex Skok, a migrant from Ukraine who lives and works in Revelstoke with his family, spoke of his daily ritual since the invasion started of checking in with family in Ukraine.

“Now I feel fear and pain for my relatives and my friends,” Skok said. “The last ten days seem to me [is like an] like eternity.

As twilight fades in Revelstoke, first light breaks in Ukraine.

“I’m waiting for morning to call them to make sure they are all right and they are alive,” Skok said. “War has neither distance, neither time.”

Skok ended with a message of hope and thanks. “I still look at the future with faith, hope and love, and we are praying for the future of Ukraine and hope everything will end soon. Thank you very much and glory to Ukraine.”

In his address, Revelstoke mayor Gary Sulz noted a long history of migrants from Ukraine settling in Revelstoke, saying the community was built in part from their efforts.

“We are very proud to be here to stand with you,” Sulz said.

“As we watch the images on TV, our hearts break,” Sulz said. “There’s not much we feel that we can do other than to stand with you and support you, say prayers to end this war. And for some you that have family back there, keep your families safe.

“Our community is one of diversity, but it is also one of inclusion. And I am very proud that we can stand here today with you so that you know that we care about you.”

Sulz said the community of Revelstoke wants to help members of the Ukrainian community in any way it can, encouraging those affected to reach out for help.

Migrant from the Ukraine, Nataliia Maneliuk, whose co-workers helped organize the event, displayed her hand-sewn Ukrainian flag, and addressed those gathered.

“I’m here, but my family is still in Ukraine,” Maneliuk said. “When I go to speak to my family, we don’t say hello as usual. My son is only eight years old, and he already knows … world war.”

Maneliuk invoked the biblical image of David and Goliath, comparing it to the war in Ukraine.

“[David] was not afraid to oppose Goliath,” Maneliuk said. “Innocent people are being killed every day, houses and hospitals are being bombed, but the Ukrainian army defends the people. I very much hope it will end like David over Goliath because we are on our own land and we will become even stronger in faith and in spirit,” she said.

Finally, she thanked Canadians and Revelstoke residents for their support and prayers. “My hope for this event encourage you my dear Canadians to help support and pray for the Ukrainian people. Now we are making history together,” Maneliuk said. “I want to say that I look forward to the day when I can see my family, when I can hug and kiss my son and husband.”

An organizer of the event said another rally may be held next weekend, but details weren’t immediately available.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.