The University of Manitoba has announced it stands in support with the members of the Ukrainian community following the invasion of the nation by neighbouring Russia.
The U of M has encouraged community members to access various resources such as the employee family assistance program, spiritual care services and academic accommodations for those directly impacted.
“The Ukrainian-Canadian community in Manitoba in general as well as faculty, staff and students are absolutely appalled by Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine,” said Yuliia Ivaniuk, co-ordinator of the centre for Ukrainian Canadian studies at the University of Manitoba.
“It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear Putin’s declaration of war as well as statements about the fact that Ukraine is illegitimate and should not exist as a sovereign state [and] that the Ukrainian people need to be ‘liberated.’”
In addition, Ivaniuk said the Ukrainian-Canadian community is appalled by Putin’s suggestion that Ukraine needs to be demilitarized and de-Nazified.
“Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is a 20th-century-style attempt to redefine the borders of a sovereign European state through the use of hard power,” said Ivaniuk.
Ivaniuk also said Russia’s invasion is an attempt to “recolonize and occupy an independent country.” To do this, Ivaniuk said Russia aims to vilify Ukraine’s democratic reforms and install a pro-Russia puppet regime that it can control.
“It’s also an attempt to redefine the security architecture of the Eurasian continent,” said Ivaniuk.
If Russia is successful in Ukraine, Ivaniuk believes Russia will likely attempt to occupy more surrounding countries within its “perceived sphere of influence.”
“That’s why it’s important to realize that Ukraine is defending democratic values and defending Europe and therefore we need as much support as possible,” said Ivaniuk.
Ivaniuk said the University of Manitoba Ukrainian-Canadian community and the Ukrainian-Canadian community at large are both thankful for the university’s show of support.
“We are also thankful for the university’s commitment to support students, staff and faculty as things continue to unfold,” said Ivaniuk. “We certainly welcome condemnation of Russia’s attack on Ukraine sovereignty and the terrible atrocities that we are all witnessing right now.”
Ivaniuk said the supports available to community members from the U of M are a “great list of initiatives.”
“The only recommendation I have is that I personally have not seen them share them widely to the public and to the students, so I would probably recommend just sharing the information more widely,” Ivaniuk said.
To learn more about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Ivaniuk recommends attending the monthly lecture series offered by the centre for Ukrainian Canadian studies. The centre also offers a bimonthly reading club that allows community members to gain a better understanding of what is currently happening in Ukraine.
In addition to these resources, Ivaniuk recommends finding resources through credible sources such as the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies and the Atlantic Council.