W. Roman Petryshyn
Canada Ukraine Foundation
On March 12, 2014 a standing room-only crowd of over four hundred people attending the UCC-APC Fundraising Rally for the Maidan made individual donations from $5 to $5000 and jointly raised over $107,000 for medical aid to people wounded on the Maidan. In addition, the Province of Alberta donated $25,000 and pledged to match community donations with $100,000 more from provincial funds to support medical, rehabilitation, and loss of family income costs incurred by 30 remaining participants of the Euromaidan still in Kyiv hospitals. . The fundraising will continue until May 25, 2014 at the 100 branches SERVUS Credit and is expected to raise about one quarter million dollars.
Planning for the event started in Edmonton just three weeks prior on February 20 when government snipers in Kyiv shot over eighty unarmed civilians. This watershed moment was the culmination of conflict that had erupted on November 30 when the Yanukovych government used unprecedented force of the Berkut, an anti-terrorist unit, against mainly peacefully protesting students. Yanukovych’s 180 degree- reversal of his position (i.e. to sign a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union) was the focus of public discontent, but it was government’s cavalier passage of dictatorship laws and use of violence that repeatedly bought out hundreds of thousands of protestors throughout December and January. As the government continued its violence, the self-defense activity of Maidan citizen protesters grew, giving the international media live pictures of the revolution brewing in Kyiv.
The sniper killings immediately invalidated Yanukovych’s legitimacy as President, which was soon demonstrated when Yanukovych and several cabinet Ministers fled from Ukraine to hide in the neighbouring Russian Federation. The Verkhovna Rada (VR parliament) deputies elected in 2010, chose a new Speaker and acting President, O. Turchynov, acting Premier Yatseniuk and a new Cabinet. The Russian military of Putin’s regime , without identifying their flag and under the guise of being locals, invaded Crimea . Within three weeks, imported and local co-conspirators violated Ukraine’s state borders and laws, forced an illegal referendum and annexed Crimea into the Russian Federation.)
In Edmonton the public gathered at the Fundraising Rally at St. John’s Cultural Centre both to commemorate the Heavenly Hundred (by then104 had died) and simultaneously to protest the invasion of Crimea and the risk of Russia invading continental Ukraine. St. John’s hall contributed generously to the evening. The strong press presence was due to the work of Darka Tarnawsky the head of the publicity and press committee.
Elected officials expressing solidarity included: Alberta Premier Alison Redford and PC MLA Genia Leskiw; Leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta, Dr. Raj Sherman; Official Opposition Rod Fox; and New Democrat Deron Bilous. Federal elected officials speaking included Conservative MP Peter Goldring; Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland; and New Democrat MP Linda Duncan. Alberta Speaker Gene Zwozdesky and Federal MPs Bernard Trottier and Laurie Hawn also were also present. Community speakers included UCC-APC President Olesia Luciw-Andryjowych and the Fundraising Rally Chairperson, Dr. Roman Petryshyn.
The program, imitating the Maidan stage in Kyiv, was produced by Nataliya Grytsiv and hosted bilingually by Roman Brytan who introduced a variety of performing groups making up 3 sets of the evening. These included Ruta; Re-minor who sang the song “Plyve Kacha” mourning the deaths of the Heavenly Hundred. The Ukrainian Male Choir under the direction of Orest Soltykevych sang 2 songs rousing people to action, the theme was continued by Viter Ukrainian Folk Choir under the direction of Lesia Pohoreska, Verchovyna IMG 6912 Chorus sang songs from the actual Maidan and led a sing- along ;whereas, writers from the Arts of Life Studio, Spoken Word Center “Siajvo”recited poetry from the Maidan. Maidan posters, videos and other exhibits were on display throughout the evening. The decorating and food committee headed by Khrystia Kohut ensured that those attending would have good food to sustain them. Certificates of appreciation from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress were presented to representatives of countries that were very helpful to Ukraine during these trying times: John Szumlas, Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland; Ms. Nejolla Korris Honorary Consul for the Republic of Lithuania; and Kenan Tan Honorary Consul General for the Republic of Turkey.
On three occasions during the evening the fund-raising sub-committee chair Christine Teterenko prepared the numbers for announcements about new funds added to the fundraising barometer. A cheer rang out when the maximum of $100,000 was surpassed. Donated funds are now being processed for official receipts by the Canada Ukraine Foundation and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
An application has been made to the Government of Alberta to have the donated and matched funds managed in Ukraine by the well-known Caritas Ukraine Foundation . Donations will assist thirty individuals wounded on the Maidan to receive medical care and physical and psychological rehabilitation over the next six months. A report of the health project will be made available to donors and member organizations of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress when the project is completed .
Thanks are due to financial donors, artistic performers, speakers and the two dozen volunteers that made the Fundraising Rally the success it turned out to be. The funds are going to emergency medical assistance badly needed by those who were wounded on the Maidan in defense of their democratic rights and a brighter future for Ukraine.
Photo credits Roman Fedoriw