Independence Day

Today is Ukrainian Independence Day (such as independence is for Ukraine at the moment). Here is a 1960s photograph of a man performing the Hopak, Ukraine’s national dance.

Hopak Ukrainian Dance 1960s USSR Soviet Union

Advertisements

On this day: human rights in Canada

Ukrainians in Castle Mountain concentration camp in 1915.

The 22nd of August, 1914 saw the passing of Canada’s War Measures Act. The act would result in government-sanctioned human rights abuses against Canadians of largely Ukrainian origin.

Ukrainians were declared “enemy aliens” and thousands were put into concentration camps to be used for slave labour across Canada. They were seen as enemies because the western regions of their homeland were under Austro-Hungarian rule at the outbreak of the First World War.

Some 80 000 Ukrainians who weren’t imprisoned were still required to register as enemy aliens and barred from leaving the country.

Plaque and statue at Castle Mountain near Banff.

The infamous Castle Mountain Internment Camp in Alberta saw prisoners used to work in the national parks, where they established the groundwork for the massive tourism to Banff and Lake Louise seen today.

Abuses at the camp were widespread, and were reported as far away as Britain.

Internment continued for two years after the war ended.

Kapuskasing_ON_3The Ukrainian cemetery at the Kapuskasing Internment Camp a concentration camp for mostly ethnic Ukrainians imprisoned to be used for slave labour during the First Wor

Ukrainian cemetery at the Kapuskasing Internment Camp in Ontario.

The internment of ethnic groups was widespread across many countries in both the First and Second World Wars, including in Australia and the United States, though the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s is generally the only instance most know of.

Four Years

Kyiv Ukraine Euromaidan Memorials Sonya Heaney May 2016

A memorial to the dead I photographed in 2016.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the end of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution. On the 20th of February, 2014 pro-Russian snipers took to the streets and shot and killed as many civilians as they could manage.

pro-russian-snipers-shooting-ukrainians-in-kyiv-ukraine-20th-february-2014

Snipers in the same spot the memorials are now.

The revolution resulted in overthrowing the corrupt, dictatorial oligarch in charge of the country, but he fled to Russia and paved the way for Putin’s invasion shortly afterwards.

On this day: Stalin sends Ukrainians to Siberia

The people of western Ukraine being deported to Siberia by Stalin_s government. 1940s.

Source

This weekend marks the seventieth anniversary of Stalin’s mass deportation of Ukrainians to Siberia. In the west of the country entire villages were cleared of ethnic Ukrainians. In just one day over 76 000 people were deported.

1992: Ukrainian Champions in Barcelona

The 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona were held from late July to early August. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union the year before, athletes from the former USSR competed under their own flags and national anthems in individual events, and for the Unified Team in group events.

Ukrainian rhythmic gymnasts Alexandra Timochenko and Oksana Skaldina came home with the gold and bronze medals. They are the two fair-haired first place-getters pictured below at the 1991 World Championships.

Alexandra Timochenko (Ukraine), Oksana Kostina and Oksana Oxana Skaldina (Ukraine) (URSS) 1991 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Champions

Under their own flag for the first time, Ukraine’s 1992 female artistic gymnasts also outshone their teammates, with the women winning a further two gold, a silver, and two bronze medals individually, as well as a share in the team gold with their Belarusian, Uzbek and Russian teammates.

Stamp_of_Ukraine_s23 Rhythmic Gymnastics Stamp of Ukraine 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games

Ukrainian stamp from 1992, featuring Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics. X

Despite almost no funding and an ongoing war with Russia, Ukrainian gymnasts continue to win Olympic medals, most recently gold and silver in the men’s competition in 2016. Many gymnasts from the country have moved to compete for other nations in order to access proper training facilities. Following the 2016 Rio Games, the equipment used in the competition was donated to Ukraine’s gymnastics federation.