February 24th, 2023
On the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainians and supporters came together in the brutal Saskatchewan cold in Regina to stand together for Ukraine. Regina Mayor Sandra Masters opened the doors to City Hall to bring the people in from the cold. In attendance were Mayor Sandra Masters, MP Michael Kramm, NDP Leader Carla Beck, MLA Terry Dennis, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Regina Branch Terry Kuzyk and Olena Shyian, President of Ukrainian National Federation – Regina.
Father Vitaliy Ihnativ of Saint Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church told LMT that despite the weather, “I’m not feeling very bad. I am feeling good because you know today is a very special day for us. We have a fire inside in our heart, in our soul, about our country and about our people. And because we are all together today for praying and doing everything that we have to do to support our country and our people.”
The event began with the Treaty 4 land acknowledgement followed by the Canadian and the Ukrainian National anthems. Terry Kuzyk said new Ukrainian arrivals are “continually learning when they come here how close the Indigenous people and the Ukrainians were when they first settled here. It was a very very important part of establishing themselves here and learning how to survive in this harsh climate.”
“Today is not an anniversary we want to celebrate it is a time to give thanks and show support to those have fought and keep fighting for freedom in Ukraine, one year of defending a country that has been forced to do so by a state supporter of terrorism, many lives have been lost because of Russia’s unprovoked invasion. Ukrainian’s are not alone in this fight we are forever grateful to the brave people from the western world including Canada who fight alongside the Ukrainian military.” Kuzyk acknowledged the three Canadians who died defending Ukraine.
Leader of the NDP Carla Beck said, “..many in our province, many here today still have family in Ukraine or close Ukrainian friends. And I know that many of you worry about those back in the homeland. But this has not stopped us from coming together..and I know we will continue to see people, wether they are raising money, expertise, gathering goods to help those who have been displaced…I know that Saskatchewan people are with you are, with those still in Ukraine and we will continue to support you in any way that we can. I see a sign here today that says the world is with Ukraine, and that is true and Saskatchewan is with Ukraine and we will stand with you and with them until every inch of Ukrainian soil is returned.”
MLA Terry Dennis “…Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the resilient people of Ukraine have bravely battled Russia, surprising them as they continue to battle. The pride and the bravery of the people of Ukraine will continue to battle and they will win this battle against the madman Putin and his russian army.” He said that Saskatchewan now has over 130,000 people of Ukrainian descent living in Saskatchewan, representing 13% of the population. Dennis said the Province is looking at expanding the number of planes bringing people from Ukraine into the province, adding to the over 3,200 people that have come to Saskatchewan over the last year.
MP Michael Kram said that while he has never experienced war that he was always thankful that the wars depicted in movies were a thing of the past, “I’m glad that the lessons that we learned from the previous century is that one country can’t invade and annex another country and think that that’s ok. But unfortunately, Vladamir Putin didn’t seem to get the memo. [He] needs to hear that this war is totally unnacceptable and that Ukraine belongs to Ukrainians and as long as Ukrainians are ready, willing and able to fight for their country Canadians need to support them through thick and thin.”
Mayor Sandra Masters thanked the Regina community over the last year, “We are going to ask you to keep stepping up until this war of agression ends. We want popele from Ukraine to feel welcomed and supported here. We want them to feel connected to community and to have opportunity should they choose to stay.”
Olena Shein said, “ A year ago we all woke up a different people. No matter where we were, in Ukraine or here we all share the same emotions we all share the same feelings we all didn’t know what to do, we all didn’t know where to go how to save our loved ones or what are we supposed to do. Right now we are standing here. We are still standing and we are standing strong. We are standing stall and we figured out how to stand and continue standing.”
Father Vitaliy gave a closing prayer in Ukrainian.
LMT spoke with Juliaai Dynnyk, who is from the Kyiv region but has been in Canada for a while. She recently visited her relatives in November. “I feel deeply sorry that I am here, actually. Since this happened I have felt devastated and horrible and guilty that I am not together with my friends, relatives and all the rest of the Ukrainians. This whole year I have lived in total fear. I have only huge hope for Ukrainian army, for all international troops who decided to join Ukrainians and assist them.” Juliaai shared how she empathized with Indigenous people in some of the similarities they have in common, “I’m deeply sorry that we both understand how it is to lose our language, how it is to lose our folk lore, or when someone decided to kill you when this happened during the Holodomor. Or after WW2 when Stalin just decided that we didn’t need to exist. And this scenario happened again and I hope it brings the new beginning for all Ukrainians.”
By Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 10, 2023 at 14:00