By Anna Michelle Matkivska
How are the lives of Harbord students different from the lives of Ukrainians during the Russian invasion?
For eight whole years, people have not called this war by its real name, instead, they refer to it as ‘the Ukrainian crisis". “I wouldn't have known anything about Ukraine and its history if it hadn't been for my friend with a Ukrainian background,” said grade nine Harbord student, Ginger Fagerstroem.
What started the war in Ukraine in 2014? Pro-Russian politics were the reason for the war's beginning. The former leader president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, pledged to bring Ukraine into the European Union, however, he disregarded his promises. On November 21, 2013, around 2,000 protesters (mostly students) gathered at Kyiv's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence square) to protest Yankovich's abuse of power. The police attacked the protestors on November 30. All around Ukraine, people were affected by this tragedy and on December 1st many riots started to occur. This was the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity. After not being able to control the situation Yancovich fled to Russia. While Ukraine had no president, Putin took advantage and led Russia to annex Crimea in March 2014. Shortly after Russia started fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk. Putin was able to control Ukrainian territory and manipulate all political decisions to prevent Ukraine from applying for a membership in the European Union and being accepted into NATO. The war became official when Putin announced a “special military operation”, then proceeded with a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 14, 2022.
Millions of Ukrainians have become refugees, forced to flee to seek refuge in other countries. As of September, over 7 million Ukrainian refugees have been registered outside of Ukraine. The residents who choose to stay in their homes have faced several challenges.
When a resident in Kyiv, Sophia Matkivska, was asked what has affected her life the most during the war she said the power outages.
On October 15, Russia launched what is believed to be the most significant coordinated missile attack since February. Russia has destroyed around 40 percent of Ukraine's energy infrastructure leaving around 1.5 million citizens without power after the missile strike. This raises concerns as winter approaches.
“It has been snowing for three days now. It is cold in the offices, there is no heating, we have two small heaters near our desks to keep warm. Sometimes it gets so cold that my feet freeze. I then leave the office and work from home using my hotspot,” said Sophia.
Unlike in Ukraine, here in Toronto, there aren't many big power outages that happen regularly.
Blackouts are one example of the difficulties Ukrainian citizens are facing. “We have power outages about twice a day. They can last from 4 to 6 hours minimum, sometimes 12 hours. I use a flashlight when the power goes out,” said Sophia.
Harbord students were asked to briefly talk about what they do at home during the evening. “I relax, do my homework, and watch the internet,” said Harbord grade 9 student Reiko Smith.
Here in Toronto, you can't imagine living without power and the internet, when in Ukraine it has become a daily struggle.
“I think we take electricity for granted,” said Grade 9 student Ginger Fagerstroem. These are just a few of the differences between life in Ukraine and life in Canada.