Lina Dzubenko sat down in the pews of Winnipeg’s Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on Remembrance Day, filled with thanks for the brave people who have been fighting for years for her home country’s independence.
“It’s painful. And I’m thankful people [are] still fighting for a better life and better future for everybody, because it’s emotional, because war never ends,” she said.
For her, this Remembrance Day ceremony hits close to home.
Dzubenko’s 82-year-old mother lived in Kiev when Russian’s aggression escalated, but refused to leave her country to move to Canada to be with her daughter because she wanted to spend her last days on Ukrainian soil.
In July, she died of cancer in the months after her city was shelled by Russian forces.
Dzubenko has other family members still in the country who are supporting the war effort, and she herself is doing what she can from Canada.
“For me it’s a very painful experience. How can you help if you’re not there?” she said.
“We help [in] every possible way to support [with a] generator or military equipment or whatever — name it, we try to help them.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ushered in a bloody war more than eight months ago.
The United Nations estimates as many as 14,400 people have died in the fighting, including more than 3,400 civilians.
There’s no end in sight — something that’s hard for Dzubenko to bear.
“This is reason it’s emotional, because you still know somebody protect you, your family, your loved one, and everybody.”
Father Eugene Maximiuk led the service on Friday, offering up prayers for those who are on the front lines, and those who have died in combat.
“We remember not only our own soldiers here, but at this time we also remember all Orthodox and all the Ukrainian soldiers … who have laid down their lives for their country,” he said.
“In this day and age we still cannot resolve our differences in peaceful ways, in rational ways. And we still see aggression, we still see war, we still see people having to defend their land, their country, their rights, their freedoms. And that’s sad.”
Holy Trinity Cathedral also unveiled a painting by a Ukrainian artist, a copy of which will be sent to a number of other Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic churches across the country, which is meant to offer solace to people impacted by the fighting.
The painting bears the image of the Holy Mother with her arms outstretched, bringing soldiers under her protection. It’s painted on an ammunition box lid, which was used in the current war in Ukraine.
Maximiuk hopes people on the front lines will find some comfort knowing that they have so much support in Canada.
“We in Canada here, we are with them in spirit and in any way that we can support them. We’re praying for you.”
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