Yes, I am Canadian and I am a proud Canadian but a part of me has its roots in Ukraine. My grandfather was born there. We have retained some of Ukrainian culture and I’ve passed this on to my sons. My granddaughter will call me Baba because I choose to honour my Ukrainian roots.
I have always followed news out of Ukraine, back when they were shackled to USSR and I was thrilled for them when they gained their independence in 1991. I was proud that Canada was one of the first countries to recognize Ukraine as an independent nation.
Years ago, I learned the language, which, through lack of practice, I have, for the most part, forgotten.
Through searching out my family’s genealogy, I have come to understand that the family may well have been wiped out during Stalin’s reign of terror. I found it strange that although I had the towns/Oblasts from whence my family came; there was no record of them to be found. In speaking with contacts I developed in Ukraine, I was given several options to consider:
1. The family was Jewish and left Ukraine to escape the pogroms and then, when the Nazis seized control, the family was wiped out.
2. The family was of gypsy origin and fled the Ukraine in fear of the communists.
3. The family was made to “disappear” during Stalin’s holodomor. All remnants and references destroyed, as was Stalin’s way.
I may never find out, unless I journey to Zabarzh and Horodenka. The cost is prohibitive and then there is the language barrier. Perhaps I will be able to find e-mail contacts in the towns that may be able to help for a consideration. Time will tell if I have a history to pass on to my granddaughter or if the family is lost to the passage/ravages of time and human brutality.
With all the blood shed over the past century, in Ukraine, it breaks my heart to see that it may well happen again. The country is run by a brute of a man, Viktor Yanukovych who seems to have taken up residence in Vladimir Putin’s pocket. It is my belief that Yulia Tymoshenko is in jail because she was a true and present threat to Yanukovych, a man with a very dark and violent past. She was a threat to the corrupt clans who are running Ukraine into the ground.
The riots in Kyiv show the world that the people of Ukraine do not want to renew their ties with a country that has murdered millions of its citizens. A country that would rob Ukraine of its language, its culture and its proud heritage.
There are over 1.2 million people of Ukrainian descent living in Canada. I dare say, all of them have a burning mistrust, if not hatred of the Russian government.
Ukrainians have the right to determine their future and that future does not lie in the bank account of Vladimir Putin, Viktor Yanukovych and their criminal cronies. Ukraine’s future lies in an alliance with the rest of the European Union.
Yanukovych needs to be expunged from office. Yulia Tymoshenko needs to be freed and allowed to pull her country from the talons of the corruption that permeates the Ukrainian political system. I am, admittedly, biased in my view – I have no love for Russia or its politicians.