Of course I am happy and proud that the Canadian women’s hockey team has brought home the gold medal at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games and that the men’s team has advanced to the finals. I love hockey and this country. However, this entire Olympic Games will be forever marred by the current events that are truthfully on my mind and heart: the intolerable actions of the Yanukovych government in Kyiv, and those of their supporters, both in Ukraine and in Moscow.
It has been ten years now since I lived in Ukraine. I’d never been overseas before. I went as a very young and naive volunteer. In my time there, the huge majority of people I met in my travels around the country earned nothing but my admiration and respect. I was welcomed into the homes of glowing strangers whose language I didn’t speak and whose culture I could never fully understand, a culture whose traditions go back more than a dozen centuries. I made friends, turned brothers and sisters—I will have for life. I fell in love for the first time. I shattered my personal comfort level more than once and was changed for the better for the experience. I will never forget the rolling green countryside of Rivnens’ka, Volyns’ka, Lviv, the feeling of deep history, the food, or the smiles. I never want to. snap back to reality.
Live-round sniper fire, arson and grenades? No government on earth, whether in the Ukraine, Syria,Venezuela or here at home has the right to use deadly force against peaceful citizens who are searching for nothing more than the rights that should be guaranteed to everyone; the right to a say in their own governance; the right to a modicum of economic prosperity for themselves and their families; the right to have hope that their children’s lives will be better.
Over the past three months, the Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych and the Russian government of Vladimir Putin by proxy have shown the entire world their tru colours, and those are the same unwashed colours that violent criminals and petty oligarchs have worn throughout history. They are no better than bullies on the playground who feel the extorted milk money slipping away. It appears the tense situation in Kyiv may get worse before it gets better—I have hope that right will win.
Peace, love, prosperity, and solidarity to the loving, shining, RISING people of the Ukraine. This is your time. You’re in my heart for the rest of my life.
Jason P. Yates