Liudmyla Faradzheva looks at photos of her son each day and messages him whenever they have a chance.
Originally from Odesa, Faradzheva hasn’t seen her 21-year-old in more than a year. He’s back home in Ukraine fighting for their country.
Faradzhava says she’s touched to see Canadians wear poppies, reminding younger generations about the fallen soldiers and veterans who sacrificed so much for them to enjoy a relatively good and free life.
“You can sleep in your bed, calm, all night without the sounds (of) alarm(s), like you must run somewhere (and) hide,” Faradzheva, who arrived in Manitoba four months ago, told Global News on Thursday.
This year, Remembrance Day highlights a painful reality the Ukrainian community has been experiencing for nearly nine months.
Refugee Lesia Yaroshenko sees how the Ukrainian children at Winnipeg’s Chief Peguis Junior High, where she works, are holding their first Remembrance Day on Canadian soil close to heart.
“For them, the war and those who are in the military service, it’s not something from the past and from faraway lands and from the TV screen. For them, it’s their personal story,” Yaroshenko said.
“Those pictures remind us of what we see every day in the news from Ukraine and what we receive from our friends and relatives from Ukraine, so it really hurts.”
This year, Ralph Brown School, an English-Ukrainian bilingual school in Winnipeg, incorporated Ukrainian music into its annual Remembrance Day assembly, along with references to a book called My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner.
“We were very mindful of how we were planning it with our Ukrainian families,” principal Trevor MacVicar told Global News.
“We were very mindful not to include images of airplanes and the bombs,” he said, adding he hoped students found the ceremony meaningful.
“If we don’t talk about it, we don’t understand it, and if we don’t understand it, it’s a scary thing.”
Ukraine observes Defenders Day on Oct. 14 — a public holiday since 2015 that honours members of the Ukrainian armed forces — along with Victory Day in May, which commemorates the end of the Second World War.
For Yaroshenko, Russia’s invasion into Ukraine felt like a remote possibility until it happened in February.
As people all over the world feel the effects of the war, she wants Canadians to realize how connected they all are.
“What I want people to think about is being grateful for every day of the peace and freedom, not to take it for granted,” she said.
The poppies pinned close to people’s hearts remind Yaroshenko of her husband still overseas serving in the Ukrainian armed forces.
“I’m hoping he joins us here.”
— with files from Drew Stremick
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