Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the president of Future Bakery, located on North Queen Street in Etobicoke near Highway 427, told Global News he believes the vandalism occurred sometime early Tuesday.
“This isn’t just graffiti, nor is it just an act of vandalism. This is an attempt to intimidate,” Wrzesnewskyj, who is also a former Liberal member of Parliament, said.
“It’s a hate crime.”
A large banner was hung on the outside of the bakery, stating “#StandWithUkraine.”
Various phrases were written on the banner and the wall around it, including “F— Ukrian (sic) and Canada,” “#Losers,” and “Russia is power,” as well as the word “Russia” in both Russian and English.
Words were also covered on the banner, to create “#Putin.”
“This is an act of cowardice. It will not intimidate,” Wrzesnewskyj said.
“We live in the best country in the world, a free and democratic country. I’m blessed to be here as the child and grandchild of refugees from World War II. Our family knows the consequences of war. It’s time to stand with Ukraine and stop Putin now.”
Russia has recently placed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an attack on Ukraine within days or weeks, as Washington and its European allies continued efforts to offer Putin a diplomatic way out of the crisis.
Moscow has said it is not planning an invasion but could take unspecified military action if its security demands are not met.
Those include a promise that NATO will never admit Ukraine, a demand the United States and the 30-nation western security alliance have called unacceptable.
Wrzesnewskyj said it’s unfortunate that when Ukraine and Russia are so close to war, there are those in Canada who support Putin.
“That speaks to the strength of Russian propaganda, Kremlin propaganda,” Wrzesnewskyj said.
He said the graffiti was discovered at 5:45 a.m. when the bakery’s first delivery truck of the day arrived.
There is a mural around the banner that was also impacted by the vandalism and Wrzesnewskyj said he’s not sure if it can be saved.
He said there aren’t cameras outside of the bakery, but they will now be installed.
“It’s a well-lit area. Even though it was done under the cover of darkness, it takes some gall to do this,” Wrzesnewskyj said.
Lubomyr Luciuk, a member of the Ukrainian-Canadian Civil Liberties Association and also a friend of Wrzesnewskyj, said he found out about the vandalism Tuesday morning.
“This morning I got up and found in my inbox these images that shook me to my core. I mean, it’s not just the criminal vandalism. It’s not just the vulgarity. It’s the meanness of it,” Luciuk said.
He said he wants to see the federal government, as well as police, address the incident.
Alexandra Chyczij, president of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress National, also called for law enforcement investigations and for the vandalism to be addressed by government officials.
She said anti-Ukrainian incidents are an “ongoing issue in Canada.”
“This is a cowardly form of intimidation. This is a hate crime against the Ukrainian-Canadian community,” Chyczij said.
The Toronto Police Service told Global News police attended Tuesday and a report was taken as part of a mischief investigation.
Police said the officer in charge of the investigation will then contact the hate crime unit on behalf of the complainant.
— with files from Reuters