On Monday TVOntario’s current affairs programme ‘The Agenda’ had 30 year international affairs veteran Matthew Fisher on to see what 2014 had in store, and right away he commented on the latest happenings in Ukraine and its relationship with Russia, the West and Yulia Tymoshenko. Worth a watch, goes for about 6 minutes:
This year’s film showcases the trials and tribulations of a B.C. childless couple who try and adopt two Ukrainian sisters from a orphanage in Horodnia (northern Ukraine), 7-year old Alyona and 8-year old Snezhana. The couple later learns the sisters have three siblings and try and adopt them all – 15-year-old Sergei, 16-year-old Yuliya, and six-year-old Sasha.
The film shows the challenges with adopting children across the age spectrum, with the eldest having the most trouble fitting in. Yuliya used to be the children’s protector, but finds that’s no longer her role, and struggles for independence from her new parents as she reaches adulthood. There is a language barrier at the beginning of the family’s relationship, but the parents did not show any signs of learning any of the children’s language in the movie. The parents face their own struggles connecting with the children at times, and the financial difficulties with adopting all of them (the movie claims around $200,000) and how it has drained their savings. The father is a nurse who eventually works up in the arctic a month at a time for additional income, and the mother is on disability from a car accident (which is the reason they did not try to have their own children).
The children also have to deal with the physical and emotional battle scars of their past – we are told some have learning disabilities (which are not thoroughly addressed in the film), Sergei suffers from lack of a growth hormone that leaves him only 4’6” tall entering adulthood, and at least one girl appears to have some form of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The younger children appear to adapt better than their own older siblings, who want to return to Ukraine to visit their old friends.
The movie itself provides a good glimpse into the life of an adopted family and the struggles of immigrating, fitting and growing up. The movie is solely focused on the family and offers little into any politics (there was a state-wide adoption ban from the government) and life outside the family (there is little footage of the children’s past lives in the orphanage). Julia even interjects herself into the documentary, especially during conflicts, when the children shut themselves off from communication. She is able to interview them in their native Russian to hear their true feelings no whatever matter is pressing them. Filming the family in their home most of the time can certainly be challenging, as the camera cannot be candid in their small house – sometimes the conversations that the family have feel a little forced, most likely to save face in front of the camera. Nonetheless the true feelings do come out and are captured in the film, making it worthwhile to see.
The latest in the struggles for Ukrainian-Canadian issues such as the Holodomor and WW1 Internment to be included in the upcoming Canadian Museum of Human Rights continues to get worse:
After fighting for a spot at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Ukrainian-Canadians are asking just how much respect coverage of the Holodomor will receive when it’s located right next to the bathroom.
Stories of the Holodomor have "either been ignored or minimalized" and the history of Ukrainian-Canadian internment camps will be addressed only by "a nondescript picture" rather than a full-fledged exhibit.
The subject of the Holodomor is relegated to a minor panel in a small obscure gallery near the museum’s public toilets.
"This is offensive, intolerable and jeopardizes the credibility of the museum to provide a balanced and objective perspective of key Canadian and global human rights stories," said the release from spokeswoman Darla Penner.
"The Holodomor is the lens through which the museum can teach the crimes of communism which were responsible for the subjugation, persecution and destruction of tens of millions of people."
UCC President Paul Grod released details of the museum’s current plans in a video the group posted last month, here are some notes I made on it:
(At around 5:50) Grod says that WW1 Internment will not have a kiosk/exhibit, only a picture on the wall above Japanese Internment.
There will be a separate Holocaust room, which will include genocide discussion – the Lemkin model with background discussion, and the Holodomor will be discussed among other genocides.
The Holodomor will be featured in a separate "Hope and Hardwork" room, on the second floor, with "high-traffic location to the toilets" (at 9:00). The room will contain the 5 Canadian-recognized genocides, including the Holocaust (which has its own room as well).
The UCC has new demands: A dedicated kiosk for Internment, and to showcase the effect of War Measures Act for immigrants to Canada.
Last night on the Slice channel, some Ukrainian flair was shown on the wedding show ‘Four Weddings Canada’ where brides rate each other’s weddings and the winner receives a free honeymoon. A Toronto Ukrainian couple’s wedding was featured at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church near Ossington station St. Nicholas church near Trinity Bellwoods. The reception had Ukrainian dancers and helped them beat out the other brides for the grand prize, an all paid-for honeymoon. You can watch the entire episode online (it starts around 30:00):
A recent episode of the Ukrainian-Canadian affairs show Kontakt aired an interview with Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney. A great interview, where many good topics were touched upon: