Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Praying for peace in Ukraine

Winnipeg community remembers the dead, cautious on accord

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JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
A woman attends a memorial service at Holy Eucharist Parish Church in Winnipeg on Sunday for those who died in the demonstrations in Kyiv, Ukraine.
February 23, 2014 - 140223  -  People gather for a memorial service at Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church for victims of violence in the Ukraine in Winnipeg Sunday, February 23, 2014. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A woman attends a memorial service at Holy Eucharist Parish Church in Winnipeg on Sunday for those who died in the demonstrations in Kyiv, Ukraine. February 23, 2014 - 140223 - People gather for a memorial service at Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church for victims of violence in the Ukraine in Winnipeg Sunday, February 23, 2014. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press Photo Store

Sorrow for the dozens who died in Independence Square, jubilation at the impeachment of President Viktor Yanukovych and cautious hope for the future.

Those were the feelings percolating among the standing-room-only crowd gathered Sunday at Holy Eucharist Parish Church on Watt Street in East Kildonan for a candlelight memorial service honouring the 80-plus protesters, police and soldiers who have died in recent months during anti-government protests in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.

"The people of Ukraine have paid an extraordinarily high price to live in a democratic country," said Oksana Bondarchuk, president of the Manitoba chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and an organizer of Sunday's service.

Bondarchuk cautioned the triumph many felt following the dramatic end of the Yanukovych government over the weekend could be short-lived, a worry the parish priest echoed.

'The people of Ukraine have paid an extraordinarily high price to live in a democratic country'

"It's not over yet," Rev. Michael Kwiatkowski told the crowd. "This is a very critical moment."

Many senior members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church have been outspoken supporters of the opposition movement and Kwiatkowski said most in Winnipeg's large Ukrainian community also favour the opposition's calls for an end to corruption, human rights abuses and what they view as Yanukovych's too-close ties with Russia.

What is top of mind now, said Kwiatkowski, is the debate over who should now lead the country and how unity and stability might be restored.

Sister Oresta Svorak, who came to Canada four years ago and spoke with the aid of a translator, said she took great pride in the determination of the protesters and believes the worst violence might be over.

"But there will still be much suffering ahead on the path if the country is to stay faithful to the cause of freedom," she said.

Svorak, who sat with a row of nuns during Sunday's memorial, said the key task will be properly implementing the 2004 constitution that emerged from the Orange Revolution.

During the service, much of it in Ukrainian and much of it sung by heart by those in the pews, the names of those who died in Kyiv's Independence Square were read and a bell sounded for each.

Among the Manitoba politicians who attended the afternoon service were Elmwood-Transcona MP Lawrence Toet, provincial Mineral Resources Minister Dave Chomiak, Multiculturalism Minister Flor Marcelino, Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun and several other MLAs.

Premier Greg Selinger, who spoke briefly, praised Winnipeg's vibrant Ukrainian community and the protesters' commitment to non-violence in the face of police and military aggression.

"They responded with a determination to see the rule of law and human rights protected," Selinger said. "Today, in a sense, we are all Ukrainian."

The province announced Sunday it was donating $25,000 in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, to be earmarked for first-aid and medical supplies.

 

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

 

PRESIDENT LIVED IN PALACE / A6

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 24, 2014 A5

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