VICTORIA — The Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its British Columbia council are calling on police in Victoria to investigate an arson fire as a hate crime. 

The congress says in a statement that someone poured gasoline through the mail slot and set fire to the family home of the pastor of the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. 

Victoria police have said five people were in the home early Wednesday when the fire broke out and all made it out alive, although one of the children was injured and a woman needed to be rescued from a window ledge by fire crews. 

Victoria police Const. Cam MacIntyre says police have received new video evidence from the area and are reviewing it to try to discover why someone would light a fire in the home located near the church. 

MacIntyre says police will investigate the possibility the arson was hate-motivated, but have not yet established a motive.

The council says the fire was an attack on Father Yuriy Vyshnevskyy, his wife and their three daughters, and it calls on police to thoroughly investigate the crime against innocent people. 

“Given that Father Vyshnevskyy is a dedicated community leader, who through his work is strongly supporting the Ukrainian people and their defence of their homeland from Russia’s genocidal war, we call on local authorities to investigate this attack as a hate crime.”

Premier John Horgan offered his sympathies to Vyshnevskyy and his family during a news conference Thursday. 

“We don’t know yet, as the investigation unfolds, whether it was directed at people’s faith, people’s ethnicity, we don’t know,” he said. “But, what we do know is that all British Columbians stand with the Vyshnevskyy family today, in unison, saying with one voice, we’re with you and we’re here to help.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2022.

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