Thousands of people marched from the Russian Embassy in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighbourhood to City Hall, to stand united with Ukraine and protest Russia's invasion of the eastern European country.

"I'm here to show support to my friends and family who are in Ukraine," said one person while standing outside the Russian Embassy.

The "Ottawa Stands with Ukraine Rally and March" was one of several events held in Ottawa this weekend to denounce Russia's invasion of Ukraine last Thursday.

"The Ukrainian people will never back down and they will defeat this army day-by-day," Organizer Cassian Soltykevych told the crowd. "They will never give up."

The rally started in front of the Russian Embassy with speeches and the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem, before the crowd marched to Ottawa City Hall waiving the Ukrainian flag and carrying signs saying "Hands Off Ukraine", "Glory to Heroes" and "Long Live Ukraine." 

At City Hall, the crowd chanted, "No Fly Zone over Ukraine", "Stop Putin, Stop the War", and "We Stand with Ukraine."

The rally ended with the singing of the Ukrainian anthem.

"I have family in Kyiv as we speak under bomb attack and actually sleeping a fourth night in bombing shelters without electricity or access to the internet," said Jane Rubina, who has family in Ukraine.

Rubina, who has lived in Ottawa for 25 years, says her family has been sending updates all week.

"The air isn't breathable around where they are. Millions of Ukrainians are forced to leave their homes," Rubina said, reading a message from family members.

Margaret Jenkins expressed anger with the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and wants Canada to help Ukraine.

"I think it’s terrible and atrocious what Putin led Russia is doing to Ukraine," Jenkins said.

"I think we should all stand up and protect civilians and by saying this is completely unacceptable .... Canada needs to be doing everything in its power to stop the war against Ukraine."

Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen was one of several people who addressed the crowd outside the Russian Embassy. 

Oksana, who works at the Ukraine Embassy in Ottawa, told Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period and Power Play, "We are extremely grateful for the Canadian support we received today here."

Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod attended the rally with her youngest staffer.

"His parents are in a bomb shelter and his 78-year-old grandfather has enlisted to defend his country," MacLeod said on Twitter.

Last Thursday, Russian President Putin launched a military operation against its neighbour. In a televised address, Putin said the attack was needed to protect civilians from eastern Ukraine.

On Sunday, Canada closed its airspace to Russian aircraft, effective immediately.  On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced sanctions on Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the country's attack on Ukraine.

With files from The Associated Press

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