WINNIPEG – With tensions rising in Ukraine after Russian forces gained control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Winnipeg Ukrainians are banding together.

Sunday morning mass at Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church was full of Ukraine supporters.

“I feel very sad. All of these people are being killed,” said parishioner Jane Budzan.

During prayers, parish priest Father Michael Kwiatkowski discussed the ongoing crisis.

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“This is something that’s on the minds and hearts of many people throughout the world and certainly the Ukrainian community,” said Kwiatkowski.

Thousands of kilometres away, Ukrainians here in Winnipeg are feeling the plight.

“I think everybody has the right to have freedom, and everyone has the right to live without fear, and to live with dignity,” said another church patron, Donna Gareau.

After months of deadly protests and a controversial president pushed from office, Ukraine is now facing a possible military invasion by Russia and mobilized for war Sunday.

Winnipeg’s tight-knit Ukrainian community is doing what it can to help.

Saturday night, 600 Winnipeggers packed Prosvita Hall to help raise funds for medical aid.

The fundraiser raised about $25,000 and will be sent to Ukraine in the coming days.

Ukrainian dancers also filled the Pantages Theatre Sunday afternoon to honour their heritage.

“This is just out chance to have that little bit of connection back to our culture and to our historical roots,” said Druzi concert organizer, Felicia Wiltshire.

Canada has already pulled its ambassador from Russia and will no longer take part in the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi, Russia.

But Canada won’t stop there.

“Should President [Vladimir] Putin continue on this provocative and dangerous course of action, it will lead to strong and negative consequences for our relationship,” said Canada’s foreign affairs minister John Baird.

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