The war in Ukraine deeply affects Gerald Romsa.
Born in Ukraine, Romsa, who has lived in Pictou County for some 20 years, remembers another time after World War II when he accompanied his mother from Ukraine to Canada when Soviet rule left them. forced to leave. The current Russian invasion underscores his affinity for his homeland and his distaste for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine was a veritable doormat for the military forces of Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II when the two countries invaded neighboring Poland at the start of the war.
“I know some of the people there,” the Riverton resident said. “I was born in Ukraine and arrived in 1948. There were many people who hoped to escape from the Germans and the Russians during the Second World War. After the war, my mother knew that the Communists were looking for us to send us to Siberia, as unfortunately happened to many members of her family.
Romsa’s mother belonged to the large community of Mennonites in Ukraine. Their first escape option was Argentina, but a Mennonite sponsorship meant a Canadian option. They landed by boat in Halifax before a train ride to Manitoba, which also has a large Mennonite community. He grew up there and worked his way east as an educator and in economic development, among a number of activities.
Romsa never met her father, a doctor who was executed in 1941.
“My father was killed for treating anyone, before I was born,” he said. “He was told to treat only communists. I tried to find my father’s family.
As Romsa fast forwards to the current war, he tries to figure out why Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine. He denies Putin’s claim that Ukraine is a threat because it is more democratic and wants to be part of Europe in ideological and economic terms.
“He is part of a certain group of people who yearn for the Soviet Empire,” he said. “Putin thinks (the breakup of the Soviet Union) is the worst thing that ever happened. When you’re a bully, bullies want to get what they want.
The West’s refusal to join the current war or intervene in Putin’s previous acts of aggression, such as the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, has encouraged him to continue moving forward. before, Romsa said.
“Putin believes in black and white,” he said. “When he sees gray, it’s a green light. When we don’t send troops telling Putin to go ahead. He knows that we are slow to react.
Romsa said he admired the solid defense of the Ukrainians in the third week of fighting. He says he understands what prolonging the war means.
“At the end of the day, (Ukraine) will come at a high cost,” he said.
Romsa thinks that the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should have invited Ukraine to join these organizations years ago, like after the annexation of Crimea or once the Ukrainian government and army are better organized.
“Another thought I had was that countries can or could have signed bilateral defense agreements with Ukraine outside of NATO in the last six months or when Putin threatened,” he said. he declares.
Romsa, her son, her two sisters and a cousin traveled to many parts of Ukraine and made friends with families. A family, whose surname is Polansky, lives near the national capital of Kiev. A daughter, Julie, got married and recently had a child. Her husband, father and brother, like all men between the ages of 18 and 60, do what they can to defend their homeland.
“They are still alive,” he said.
One of the other regions visited is in southern Ukraine, near the Black Sea, where Romsa’s mother grew up. His secondary school is now a Roma-supported Mennonite center.
He also traveled to Ukraine to oversee elections with a group of volunteers. He still expresses his astonishment that some of his fellow Canadians who were funded by government organizations expected to ensure fair electoral practices by using interpreters because they did not speak Ukrainian.
He has another suggestion about Putin before Ukraine is completely destroyed.
“I think NATO should talk to Russian generals to change Putin’s mind.”
Romsa also regrets what he calls a lost opportunity, between the end of the Cold War and Putin’s rise to power, for Russia to be encouraged and invited to join the EU and possibly NATO.
Canada will welcome those fleeing the war in Ukraine
Ukrainians who wish to come to Canada temporarily or permanently have a new option to do so.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced new immigration streams for Ukrainians who want to take advantage as the Russian invasion of the country intensifies.
Immigration Minister and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser said Canada is aware of the issues in Ukraine and its determination to retain its sovereignty.
“We want to do our best to make sure we’re on the right side of history,” he said. “It’s not just people on the other side of the world. Our neighbors have been impacted.
People seeking temporary stay can access a Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization, with no limit on applications, according to a press release issued last week. This measure is meant to be the fastest, safest and most efficient way for Ukrainians to come to Canada and eliminates many of the normal visa requirements.
Fraser said Ukrainians have welcomed Canada’s overtures to keep them out of harm’s way, but many are determined to return to their country as soon as they can.
“They want to return to their homeland which has been ravished by war,” he said.
For all Ukrainian nationals, pending background checks and security checks, their stay in Canada could be extended by at least two years. The plan is to expand the application lane in less than two weeks, while Ukrainians can apply to all programs in the meantime and their applications will be prioritized.
Ukrainians who come to Canada temporarily or permanently can apply for a work permit. IRCC will expedite a special family reunification sponsorship process for permanent residence. The ministry will also issue open work permits to Ukrainian visitors, workers and students who are currently in Canada and cannot safely return home.