FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John will raise the Ukrainian flag for 30 days in support of the country following unprovoked Russian attacks.
The resolution brought forward by Councillor Tony Zabinksy on Monday was approved by council.
“I feel with robust talk and what’s going on with Ukraine, and to show solidarity that we fly the flag,” said Zabinsky. “There’s a lot of people [wondering] what can we do besides raising money to send to the Red Cross or any of those organizations.”
Councillor Byron Stewart questioned raising another country’s flag when other “wars and skirmishes are ongoing throughout the world now.”
“This is sad, I’m 50 per cent Ukrainian myself, so it attaches to my family history,” Stewart said.
Stewart also mentioned recent confusion on what certain levels of governments can and cannot do and how this may cause further confusion.
“This one’s getting a lot of attention now. This isn’t a community member bringing it forward, this is a council decision, and I think there is a difference,” Stewart said.
“Even with my own attachment, I just don’t see the need for us to be flying the flag just out of the confusion that I know we’ve all been dealing with of what’s federal, what’s provincial, and what’s municipal,” he said.
Councillor Lilia Hansen acknowledged Stewart’s view on the matter but said it is a small gesture that shows the city is not “turning a blind eye to it.”
“We have a large country attacking a democratic country. Maybe that differentiates some of the other wars, and maybe the size,” Hansen said.
Councillor Jim Lequiere said he favoured flying the flag, but added for any future calamity — the precedent has been set.
“We have to be aware. If anything else were to happen six months to a year down the line and [the situation between Ukraine and Russia settled] and somebody brings up let’s fly another flag, the precedent has been set,” said Lequiere.
Mayor Lori Ackerman, and councillors Lequiere, Hansen, and Zabinsky voted in favour of the flag raising, with Stewart voting down the motion.
Councillors Gord Klassen and Trevor Bolin did not vote as they were absent from Monday’s council meeting.
The city will receive and raise the flag of Ukraine on Friday for 30 days.