Police investigate after Russian Community Centre in Vancouver vandalized

Police are investigating a case of vandalism after the doorstep of the Russian Community Centre in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood was defaced with blue and yellow paint on Saturday.

The community centre has been in Vancouver since 1956, located in the former Kitsilano Cinema theatre building on West 4th Avenue. Its programs include language classes, dance and music, which are accessible to anyone.

Ariadna McKenna, who is the chair of the board for the centre, said the vandalism is a waste. Her father, who is 96 years old, has been a member since the mid-1990s.

Ariadna McKenna, chair of the board for Vancouver’s Russian Community Centre stands in front of doors that were defaced by vandals on Saturday March 5, 2022. (Janella Hamilton/CBC)

“We’re not political, we’re Canadian,” she said as she stood in front of the defaced doors of the cultural centre. “It’s shocking, it’s very upsetting. The vandals that did this don’t understand who we are.”

It is the latest Russian-associated business in B.C. to be targeted following the invasion of Ukraine last week, with the blue and yellow paint representing the flag of Ukraine. Police say the suspected vandalism likely occurred overnight. 

Jane McFadden, executive director of the West 4th Avenue Business Improvement Association, condemned the incident on Saturday.

“We all need to remember that friendship is more powerful than an act like this,” she told CBC News. 

“It’s unfortunate for Canadian Russians that are our friends and our colleagues and neighbours.”

A man is seen attempting to clean away the paint at the doorstep of the centre, located on West 4th Avenue. (Janella Hamilton/CBC)

No arrests have yet been made as part of the investigation, according to a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department.

McFadden said the community centre is a valued member of her association and she felt sad about the attack.

The centre has hosted numerous events over the years, including Russian orchestra performances and amateur wrestling shows. 

“I think people are lashing out at what they think is the Russian community,” McFadden said.

“It’s just unfortunate that we’re not distinguishing [between] what’s happening in Ukraine [and] Canadians that are of Russian descent.”

‘Here for peace’

McKenna asked that people who are upset about the war happening in Ukraine find positive and supportive ways to help.

“We are here for peace,” she said.

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