Canada, Ukrainians and Indigenous Peoples

There is More Good In the World Than Bad

For almost everyone, the news coming out of the Ukraine of late has been terribly disturbing.  We all feel deeply for the Ukrainians and the terrible times they are going through.

Many of us are frightened and frustrated and wonder if Putin will escalate the war in the Ukraine and beyond.  What can we do? How can we help?

MANY PEOPLE HAVE:  from all over the world, reminding us when there is a crisis people come together and help each other.  Here are a few examples:

1) Millions of people are sending money for food. clothing, shelter and health care through organizations such as the RED CROSS.

Support for the Ukraine

2) Ukraine’s neighbours Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia and others have taken in upwards of two million refugees. Canada has also taken in some refugees and has simplified the process to accept more.  Did you see the clip on the CBC National the welcome some of the refugee children received from school children in Italy? It brought tears to my eyes.

3) The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is the home of the Ukraine Pediatric Fellowship Program founded 12 years ago by a volunteer physician of Ukrainian ancestry, Dr. Myroslava Romach. This successful program has brought 50 trainees from Ukraine to Sick Kids, conducted 20 medical missions to Ukraine and provided specialized equipment to help Ukrainian hospital-based physicians in their work. This program has also recently been sourcing and arranging to deliver essential medications due to the war to Ukraine. Sick Kids has brought 5 kids with cancer to Canada from the Ukraine.

4) Ukrainians are helping themselves and each other.  Older men are volunteering to fight, and others are volunteering in droves to save their country and look after each other.  President Zelensky’s emotional appeals have influenced politicians everywhere.

5) Countries all over the world are applying sanctions on Russia including freezing bank accounts, cutting Russia off from the SWIFT system so money cannot be transferred to and from Russia, closing businesses and curtailing the purchase of Russian oil.

Stamp commemorating the centennial of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, 1891–1991

 As a result, the ruble has been devalued, the stock market has plummeted and ordinary people are feeling the effects of the sanctions, hopefully putting pressure on Putin. These initiatives may not work or be enough, however, if they work, we may see a method of settling disagreements that does not include killing people. 

Canada has the third largest Ukrainian community in the world (after the Ukraine and Russia). Ukrainians started arriving during a previous crisis starting in 1891. Since then, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have come to Canada. Initially, many settled and farmed Western Canada. They have been model citizens. More recently, many have come to Southern Ontario.

These acts of reaching out to each other are not new. Several days ago, I was chatting with Cheryl Whiskeyjack, an accomplished Indigenous woman who runs an important Indigenous Social Service Agency, Bent Arrow Healing Society in Edmonton.  She told me about the special relationship that has developed over the years between Indigenous Peoples in Alberta and the Ukrainian peoples … especially at a time when sending children to residential schools and starving Indigenous peoples on the prairies was at its peak.

Attached is a link to a touching and informative Good News story she referred me to written by Brandi Morin, a Cree/Iroquois/French writer, for the organization Cultural Survival.  (culturalsurvival.org) It is a 3-minute read:  


Till next time,

Chris Snyder

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