‘Ukrainian spirit is unbreakable,’ says emotional Oakville councillor


Published February 28, 2023 at 12:22 pm

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton proclaimed February 24th, 2023 as "Solidarity with Ukraine Day" in Oakville in support of the millions of Ukrainians who have been displaced. Ward 6 Councillor Dr. Natalia Lishchyna, who is of Ukrainian heritage, spoke on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion at a council meeting on Monday. TOWN OF OAKVILLE PHOTO

Her eyes tearing up and her voice breaking, Oakville Ward 6 Councillor Dr. Natalia Lishchyna spoke to the courage Ukrainians display every day in the war against Russia.

In an emotional, but determined statement during Monday’s (Feb. 27) Town Council meeting on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, Lishchyna, of Ukrainian heritage, talked of the determination of the people and the sacrifices they are making.

“The Ukrainian spirit is unbreakable,” said Lishchyna, who is one of over 900 Canadians barred from travel to Russia by Moscow’s ministry of foreign affairs. “Babies are born in bomb shelters. Children continue to learn their lessons in basement. Doctors operate in hospitals using generator power.

“Make no mistake, many Ukrainians have made the ultimate sacrifice, including a member of my family. They will always be remembered. Heroes, who fought valiantly for their homeland so that their fellow Ukrainians do not have to live under Russian occupation.”

Lishchyna thanked council for its proclamation in solidarity with Ukraine on Friday, which officially marked the one year anniversary of the Russian invasion.

In what she called a “genocidal full scale invasion, Lishchyna reflected on the start of the war and how Russian President Vladimir Putin lied to the world and denied he would invade Ukraine.

The Russians would march in on the dawn of Feb. 24, 2002.

“He lied to the world and ordered a full scale invasion of Ukraine. We all watched what happened next,” said Lishchyna. “After failing to break through the capital of Kiev upon Moscow’s forces retreat, the world learned of unspeakable horrors.

“Widespread war crimes in Butcha in other cities and towns were discovered. World leaders saw these with their own eyes.”

The Russians pounded Ukrainian cities with missile and drone strikes. Ground forces entered the country from the north, south and east. Many doubted Ukraine could hold them off.

“But the resistance and the morale of the Ukrainian nation was strong,” said Lishchyna. “Putin’s propaganda was not taking hold. In fact, the West was seeing right through him and his cronies.

“NATO countries and allies united in their support for Ukraine, allowing the brave men and women of the Ukrainian Armed forces and territorial defences to defend their country and to fight for freedom and democracy on behalf of their territorial defenses to defend their country and to fight for freedom and democracy on behalf of all of us.

Millions of Ukrainian citizens would flee to safe havens across the world, including here in Canada. Millions of others became internally displaced.

“We’re hearing air raid sirens become part of their daily lives over the last year,” she said. “So we’re living in darkness and in cold, through rolling blackouts with heat and water because the Russian aggressor would target specifically civilian infrastructure.”

Lishchyna said the world is only now seeing the level of cruelty and violence inflicted on Ukrainians in occupied territories. Something Ukrainians knew since the 2014 invasion of Donbas.

“The stories from every single liberated city and town are the same,” she said. “There are torture chambers, concentration camps, mass murders and rapes, torment of children. The latest reports indicate that at least 6,000 children have been kidnapped and deported to Russia.

“If Ukrainians stopped fighting, they don’t have to imagine what life would be like all across the country under Russian occupation.”


Which is why, the Oakville councillor believes strongly, that Ukraine’s allies need to scale up their military assistance. Help the country breakthrough the stalemate of trench warfare and regain the momentum they gained in the fall in order to drive the Russians out.

“No doubt, Russia is a terrorist state and must be held responsible for this genocidal war and its war crimes,” said Lishchyna. “The atrocities in Butcha and Irpin and other cities and towns are now being investigated by numerous authorities, including the international criminal courts.

“For anyone who thinks there is a peaceful solution to this war need only look back at history. Putin and his ilk to not negotiate and cannot be trusted. Russia must be defeated, and only then there will be peace.”

Under the courageous leadership of President Volodymyr Zolensky and the allies, Lishchyna believes Ukrainians will be victorious.

“They will rebuild their lives and their homes,” she said wrapping up her thoughts. “They will be a shining beacon for the rest of the world of how good overcame evil.”

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