Ukraine's pain illuminated

Student club holds candlelight vigil for country outside Queen’s Centre

Students hold signs and candles outside the Queen’s Centre.
Students hold signs and candles outside the Queen’s Centre.
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Queen’s students held a candlelight vigil for the crisis in Ukraine outside the Queen’s Centre on Thursday night.

The vigil was organized by the Queen’s Ukrainian Students Club.

A number of students came to the vigil with candles. They stood outside the north entrance of the Queen’s Centre and later moved to Stauffer Library.

Stephen Gellner said the club has been making an effort to reach out to students and spread the correct information about Ukraine.

“We were in the ARC for the past three or four days. We had pamphlets made that debunked myths surrounding what was going on in the Ukraine,” Gellner, ArtSci ’14, said.

“They see us in the ARC with a big Ukrainian flag, it’s just to get [students] thinking about it. A lot of Ukrainians we didn’t even know were on Queen’s campus came out and said, ‘thank you for showing us this stuff.’”

Gellner said he’s trying to appeal to a sense of greater solidarity outside just the Ukrainian student community.

“I can see why people are so apprehensive to care. But these events change people’s lives. People have died in these protests, over a hundred people in a day,” he said.

Fellow club member Kira Antonyshyn has never been to Ukraine, but said she considers the Ukrainian community “central to [her] life”.

“It’s somewhere my parents have gone; my grandparents were born there. Even though we’re two generations removed, it’s still so important to us, and I think it’s important that everyone here at Queen’s knows that a lot of the people are affected by this,” Antonyshyn, ArtSci ’16, said.

She criticized the failure of the Queen’s community to continue talking about Ukraine.

“There was a lot of news about it maybe two weeks ago, a month ago, but now it’s beginning to die down again,” she said.

Her father, a doctor in Toronto, is traveling to Ukraine to run a medical camp.

“He’s going to Kiev and Lvov — those are the two big cities. I think it’s important that people know that people are still going there and people need help there.

“I’m proud of my dad, that he’s doing that.”

Antonyshyn said that the situation in Ukraine would affect other countries close to Russia.

Another student at the vigil, Max Moros, agreed.

“It’s important that other people, not just Ukrainians, understand the importance of what’s going on in Ukraine right now and how it affects them, and how in the next two weeks or month it could affect the entire world,” Moros, Sci ’13, said.

Moros said he predicted “serious aggression” from Russia, not only towards Ukraine but towards neighbouring countries.

“I was talking to a few people in the Royal Military Academy and I heard last weekend that a few of them are shipping out to Europe for war games,” he said. “The worst is that people don’t know this is happening. I find out through friends, through the Internet and through asking around, but a lot of people don’t know the severity of the situation and how much further it could escalate.”

Moros said he hoped that other countries would take a harsher stance on Russia’s aggression.

“[Russia’s] media needs to be cut off from the rest of the world because they are trying to influence countries near them through television and radio to try to convert people, to change their minds about what their countries are like, and influence them to invade,” he said.

— With files from Olivia Bowden and Erin Sylvester

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