Even before the full-scale war, for me, as well as for millions of people in Ukraine and the global Ukrainian diaspora, Independence Day is the most important holiday of the year. August 24st, 1991 marks the death of tyranny and the Soviet regime and the rebirth of the state and its ability to exercise many unique democratic freedoms. Unfortunately, putin’s regime and the people of russia who stand with putin keep destroying those freedoms and democracy in Ukraine. In the last six months, here are some numbers from npr.org to show the staggering impact of russia’s war in Ukraine
• Over 13 million Ukrainians have been displaced
• Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians may have lost their lives in the war
• Russia occupies 20% of Ukrainian land
• Dozens of countries have pledged billions of dollars in military aid since the war began
• Ukraine’s economy could shrink by as much as 45% because of the invasion
• Bake sales, spare change and “St. Javelin” have raised over $500 million in private money to help Ukraine
13 million displaced represent close to one-third of the Canadian population looking for safe spaces that do not currently exist in Ukraine, thanks to russian missiles and everyday attacks on the people of Ukraine. The data from the Canada Border Services Agency corresponds to Ukrainian citizens and returning Canadian permanent residents of Ukrainian origin who arrived in Canada by land or air between January 1 and August 14, 2022: Arrived in Canada by land (11,817) Arrived in Canada by air (62,772) Applications received (495,929) Applications approved (204,793). Of course, the data are just numbers, but we know that each number is a human being and their story of displacement, and this is only to Canada (4% of total displaced population). We know that when 40% of the applicants already received visas, only 30% arrived in Canada, meaning many are still in transit. We also can see from the data that more than 60% of applicants are still awaiting for decision.
Every day, everyone who #StandWithUkraine live in fear that more people of Ukraine will die as russian missile can hit anywhere in Ukraine. Living under russian occupation is not an option, as many Ukrainians experience what it means to live in russian concentration camps. Currently, Ukrainians are no longer looking for peace, but need a victory and restore their territorial integrity as “russian peace” means no Ukraine.
Today I think of everyone who lost their loved ones as part of the war. Eternal memory to heroes. The generation of Ukrainians 31 and younger only lived in Independent Ukraine, and now they are fighting with others to keep Ukraine’s independence. Those Ukrainians who lived in USSR will never want to be back as they supported Ukraine’s independence in 1991 and support it now. I think of the 8,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war. putin’s regime can kill them as they did in the Olenivka detention center.
However, despite those terrifying data it is important to celebrate Ukraine, its culture, language, and independence. Putin regime will not stop Ukrainians from sharing their cuisine, their talents and skills with the world. Thanks to the global community and everyone who stands with Ukraine, People of Ukraine will win the war. Therefore, we will continue celebrating Ukrainian Independence Day, enjoy singing Ukrainian songs, sharing Ukrainian traditions, and visiting Ukraine and standing in the Ukrainian sunflowers fields. Happy Independence day Ukraine.