Ukrainian community leaders in Edmonton are asking police to treat an alleged attack on members last week as a hate crime.
The claimed conflict happened on March 9 outside of Rogers Place, where some Oilers fans displaying Ukrainian flags were assaulted, according to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC).
"A group of men, who spoke and yelled in Russian, began to assault them (Ukrainian Oilers fans), throwing punches, kicks, and grabbing by the neck," the UCC-APC said via CTV News.
According to an Edmonton Police Service spokesperson, there was a law enforcement presence on the scene after responding to the altercation. The officers were available due to already being at the Oilers game as extra security.
No one was arrested at the time, according to police, but the incident remains under investigation.
Alexandra Chyczij, president of the UCC-APC, is adamant that the attack gets treated as a hate crime.
"Given that this group of Ukrainians were clearly identified as such by the flags and other symbols they wore, we insist that Edmonton police investigate this assault as a hate crime," she said.
Edmonton mayor Amarjeet Sohi showed support for the Ukrainian community and condemned the actions of the alleged perpetrators.
The attack on Ukrainian community members outside @RogersPlace last week was completely unacceptable. I spoke with President Boychuk to offer my support and I urge all Edmontonians to remain united and avoid division in solidarity with Ukraine and Edmonton’s Ukrainian community.
— Amarjeet Sohi (@AmarjeetSohiYEG) March 14, 2022
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has devastated the community in Alberta, as there are roughly 350,000 Albertans of Ukrainian descent.
Before the March 9 game against the Washington Capitals, the Oilers had a local Ukrainian choir sing the Canadian anthem in both English and Ukrainian.
The Vitar Ukrainian Folk Choir performs the Canadian National Anthem in English and Ukrainian prior to the Oilers-Capitals game pic.twitter.com/RJ30J7SwdI
— nopClips (@nopClips) March 10, 2022
Just south of Edmonton, Calgary Flames fans that were present for the Capitals’ visit to the Scotiabank Saddledome last week relentlessly booed and jeered Russian star Alex Ovechkin whenever he touched the puck. Ovechkin has shown support for Russian president Vladimir Putin in the past, and after the invasion he made it clear he wanted peace, but did not denounce his president.
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