With Ukrainian flags raised and passing cars honking their horns, Saturday afternoon’s anti-war demonstration in Penticton was personal for one local woman, who couldn’t help but think about her family living in Eastern Europe.
Cyndy Bishop was joined by her husband, Lance, and dozens of other Pentictonites who spent their day (March 5) rallying at the intersection of Main Street and Warren Avenue in support of Ukraine.
After Russia’s full-scale invasion of the neighbouring country on Feb. 24, Bishop reached out to several of her family members who currently reside in Ivano-Frankivsk, a Ukrainian city located in the western part of the country.
“I’ve offered to help sponsor my cousins and bring them to Canada but they’ve refused to come and want to stay home and fight,” Bishop explained to Black Press.
Bishop visited Ukraine only two years ago. She took her 10-year old son and 82-year old mother to Ivano-Frankivsk for a family reunion.
The Penticton family landed at the city’s airport in Ukraine, a place that has since been struck by a missile as a result of a Russian invasion.
“Her family does not want to leave (Ukraine),” Bishop’s husband said.
“They told us that they’re all staying back to fight. Their town has been bombed and the airport’s been bombed, but all her family members at this point are accounted for.”
Saturday’s gathering near Cherry Lane Mall was much larger than what it was only a week prior, with one woman even handing out mini Ukrainian flags to pedestrians on the sidewalk.
And seeing dozens of Pentictonites rally in support of her family’s country was a moment Bishop will never forget.
“I think it’s beautiful and I think there needs to be more of these (gatherings) in the world right now,” Bishop said while holding back tears.
As far as the local couple is concerned, rallying for Ukraine in Penticton isn’t going to be a one-time occasion.
Bishop’s husband told Black Press he will be at the intersection with the country’s flag every weekend, or maybe even every weekday if needed.
“I’m here for my wife. I’m not of Ukrainian descent myself but I’m here for my wife and her family.”
Feelings of helplessness could be sensed throughout the day on Saturday, with more and more local ralliers asking what more can be done.
For now, though, Bishop just knows her family isn’t going down without a fight.
“I’m not surprised they’re fighting.”