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Calgary's Ukrainian community holds rally in response to dam destruction

Calgary's Ukrainian community held an emergency rally on Tuesday night in response to the destruction of a dam in southern Ukraine.

More than 100 people gathered at Poppy Plaza, lining up along Memorial Drive N.W., holding up signs and Ukrainian flags.

They could be heard chanting and singing their country's national anthem as cars passed by, many of them honking in support.

Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for blowing up the Nova Kakhovka Dam, which sits on the Dnipro River that separates Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Villagers have been forced to flee as the water encroaches on a sizeable piece of land.

Anastasiia Haiduchenko moved to Calgary a year ago to flee the war, but her parents and two grandmothers stayed in their hometown of Kherson, which is near the dam.

She says she first heard the news from her husband, who is from Nova Kakhovka, on Monday night.

"I was like, 'No, that's not true. That's impossible. They're still people, like they understand what's going to happen, hundreds, thousands of lives will be taken,'" Haiduchenko said.

"All night I spent on the phone with my family … I want this world to hear what's happening there. I want people to understand that Russia is a terrorist state. I'm not going to mind my words."

Haiduchenko says her family and friends have been helping evacuate people who live by the river.

She says she's trying to help however she can from Calgary and appreciates the opportunity to gather with other Ukrainians at rallies like this.

"I feel like I'm not alone in this and my family, we're not left alone with all this tragedy," Haiduchenko said.

More than 100 people gathered at Poppy Plaza, lining up along Memorial Drive N.W., holding up signs and Ukrainian flags.

Narhiza Musaieva, a rally organizer, says she worries for her father, who is in Zaporizhzhia and will face issues with drinking water as a result of the dam's destruction.

She also worries for her friends, who were in the area that had to be evacuated.

"They were really scared. They were lucky to be able to evacuate because they had relatives in other parts of Ukraine, but not everyone is that lucky," Musaieva said.

"When something like this happens, usually it's the community who reaches out with the hope that we can do something, have some impact because it's really hard just sitting at home or at work doing nothing and just watching our country struggle."

Rally participants are calling for Canada and its allies to designate the Russian Federation as a state supporter of terrorism, to continue giving Ukraine the weapons it needs, and to stop trade with Russia. 

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