A Ukrainian Canadians’ Perspective on the Russian Invasion > CULTURS — lifestyle media for cross-cultural identity

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On Thursday, February 24th, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a full attack on Ukrainian military assets and different cities across the country, moving Russian forces from Belarus toward Ukraine’s Capital, Kyiv. It wasn’t long before photos surfaced on the internet of all the destruction.

View of ruined city center in Kharkiv (Photo by Pavel Dorogoy on DepositPhotos)

As pictures from this invasion spread across the internet, it outraged people to see so much inhumanity. A photo essay at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/11/two-weeks-of-war-in-ukraine-photo-essay shows the terror that has escalated in the Ukraine over just the past two weeks. Different celebrities and organizations have been speaking out trying to raise money for the country.

Photography has the power to show us what is going on in the world like never before. With social media, images can span the entire web in minutes allowing information to move faster and be more constant. This has allowed a new generation to see the tragedy of this invasion and the tragedy that is war.

Home Country Under Attack

Jean Sine is an 88 year old Ukrainian Canadian, living in Calgary, Alberta. Her parents both immigrated from the Ukraine to Canada in the early 1900’s leaving behind friends and family. Being born in 1934, Sine has lived through many wars but none of them have hit as close to home as this one does. 

Building damaged by Russian rocket in Kyiv (Photo by Palinchak from DepositPhotos)

During my conversation with Jean I showed her a number of pictures that show the destruction Russia has caused in Ukraine, and asked her how they made her feel. 

“I don’t know how to explain it.” said Sine, “I feel anger and sorrow for all the people that lived there. That once was their home. And the question is why.”.

The topic of why was significant during our conversation. Why was this happening to her country? Why do things continue to happen like this in this day an age? Why is it that we are able to see all the darkness in the world from our screens staring back at us? And what do we have the power to do about any of it?

The Haunting of Photos

Kindergarten in Kharkiv destroyed (Photo by Fotoreserg from DepositPhotos)

Some photos stick with you, and the destruction of this kindergarten in Kharkiv is one them. The image shows broken glass, dirt, and abandoned toys. The photographer was able to capture the doll in a way where it looks as if she’s reaching up like a child, for someone to take her away from the horror.

“I found that photo very haunting,” said Jean, “and I think the children and the mothers are fleeing to the unknown, from the war, but they don’t know what’s ahead of them. It’s like lost childhood.”.

Photos evoke so much emotion in people. They make us forget about ourselves and create a visual, for emotion to be expressed about something that isn’t ourselves. They connect cultures, people, causes, and events. They make us want to help and want to create change.

If you want to continue viewing images of the mass destruction Russia is doing in the Ukraine, a Say No To War image collection https://www.creativeboom.com/resources/say-no-to-war-a-growing-resource-for-the-creative-industry-of-free-stock-images-of-the-war-in-ukraine/ has been created by Vista’s Kyiv-based DepositPhotos and VistaCreate, which is where all of these images are from. The Ukraine want people to use and share these images to spread more awareness about this tragedy.

At 88, Jean continues to have a positive outlook on a world stricken with war and an ongoing pandemic. Recalling a trip she took to the city of Kyiv in 2001, she noted how beautiful of a city it was and how sad it is to see the country her parents grew up in being destroyed. But she remains hopeful that the country will see peace again.



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