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Year-end reflections

Dec 29, 2022 | Featured, The View From Here - Walter Kish

I will be glad when this troubled year of 2022 comes to an end in the next few days. I have had many memorable years during my sojourn on this earth, most of them being interesting, pleasant and rewarding. Sad to say 2022 was not one of those. I would not be exaggerating in saying that this was a year that was more endured rather than lived.

It started with this country, and indeed most of the world, suffering from the ravages of the coronavirus. As it spread quickly and exponentially, overwhelming our hospitals and critical care systems, our day to day lives were changed dramatically as we sought to contain the virus’ deadly consequences. The restrictions imposed by the authorities to try and contain the spread of this pernicious virus apparently rubbed some diehard libertarians in Canada the wrong way, leading them to organize a convoy of disgruntled truckers to descend on Ottawa and paralyze that city by blockading most of the downtown core and make life miserable for its citizens. This was exacerbated by further blockades along key border crossing points to the U.S., paralyzing cross-border traffic and causing significant damage to Canada’s export economy.

Purporting to be defending basic “freedoms”, the demonstrators were in fact protesting to maintain their “right” to endanger the health and welfare of the majority of Canadian citizens by refusing to obey basic and necessary medical precautions. In effect, they were defending their right to be selfish. The whole movement was bankrolled in large part by ultra right-wing sources in the U.S. that funneled money into Canada to fan the flames of misguided populism. It was hard to watch Canadians descend into the kind of Trump-led, polarizing and divisive political miasma that has taken over large swaths of the American citizenry. Fortunately, the Canadian government finally took the necessary steps to bring the situation under control, though the whole experience left a lingering malaise that will take a long time for Canadians to process and overcome. In addition, the virus continues to mutate and challenge our medical systems, though thankfully the medical authorities have developed vaccines and treatments that have largely blunted most of the virus’ deadly consequences.

To make things worse, towards the end of February, Russia stunned the world by brazenly attacking Ukraine on three sides, hoping to quickly bring the country back under its control like in the heyday of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. Russian imperialism was once again raining death and destruction on its neighbours. Russia, and for that matter most of the world, expected a quick Russian victory in a matter of days, or at most weeks. That was not to be, as the Ukrainians fought back with tenacity, courage and ability that surprised everyone. The Russians were pushed back with great losses in men and materiel, which caused them to resort to massive, genocidal attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure, hoping to terrorize the Ukrainian population into submission. That too, did not happen and President Putin and his military minions have now been painted into a corner with no credible exit plan other than humiliating defeat.

It is hard to predict how much longer this war will last, but one thing is certain, and that is that Ukraine will not allow a single Russian soldier to remain on Ukrainian land. Sadly, the war has caused death, damage, devastation and trauma that will take decades to repair, as Ukraine has borne the brunt of the cost of restraining a resurgent, brutal and imperialistic Russia.

The war completely disrupted the normal lives of not only the Ukrainians in the homeland but in the diaspora as well. Here beyond the borders of Ukraine, the Ukrainian community organized a massive effort to provide aid for Ukraine, as well as to help resettle the millions of Ukrainians that have been forced to flee their homes because of the war. When 2022 dawned, little did I expect that my life would soon be taken over by the need to do everything I could to help the land of my ancestors and its people to weather the storm inflicted by a reactionary and genocidal Russian state. Wars quickly change people’s priorities and turn lives upside down.

The double whammy of Covid and the war in Ukraine, dominated my life in 2022 like nothing else that I have ever experienced in my long and eventful sojourn on this earth. I fervently hope that by the time 2023 ends, both these twin scourges will have been dealt with, and my life can return back to being that of a contented grandparent, enjoying my retirement years in peace and creative pursuits.
For what it is worth – Happy New Year everyone!

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Nadia Prokopiw
Federal Provincial Child Care
Serving Ukrainian New Comers in Toronto

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