From The Mayor's Desk:
Doug Lawrance, Mayor, Sioux Lookout
The Ukraine and Sioux Lookout
The on-going invasion of the Ukraine by Russia is of great consequence to people all over the world, including we who in live in Sioux Lookout. Russia is attacking not only Ukrainians, but it is also threatening and violating the rules of international law that have kept the world relatively safe since the second world war. Governments around the world have reacted to this invasion and are attempting to limit Russian aggression while also avoiding direct war with Russia which could precipitate a world war of disastrous consequences to all humanity.
This invasion matters to Canada and to Sioux Lookout for the same reasons it matters everywhere in the world, and, because we are connected to the Ukraine by our own people. Of all the countries in the world Canada is home to the largest diaspora of people of Ukrainian heritage, approximately 1.3 million – about 1 in 30 Canadians. The 2021 Canadian Census reports that in Sioux Lookout 550 people have Ukrainian ethnicity in their origins – about 1 in 10 people. Only heritage of Aboriginal, British, and German backgrounds are larger than Ukrainian in Sioux Lookout. This invasion matters in Sioux Lookout because we all know someone of Ukrainian descent – a family member, a neighbour, a classmate, a colleague.
This naked aggression and the broader threat of the Russian invasion seems to have grabbed our nervous attention more than other conflicts in recent decades. Not only do we know Ukrainians, but many other similarities connect them to us in so many ways, both large and small. Connect us as humans. On both mainstream TV and social media we can see that the disrupted lifestyles of the Ukrainian people look much like our lifestyle. Ukrainians have winter, they play hockey, they farm and work in industry, they have arts and technology, they have a free and independent media, and they have aspirations for their families as we do. That all such things can be lost overnight by the actions of an autocratic tyrant gets our attention in a visceral manner – because we see ourselves in the Ukrainians. Because although remote, we too feel threatened.
Representing Canadians, our Federal Government is very much aligning with most other nations and taking shared measures to limit Russia’s capacity to continue their aggression. As we have done in other conflicts, Canada will accept those fleeing the conflict zone. Many of us in Sioux Lookout might be asking what can we do? There is no simple prescription, but in the short term we can follow the example of our unified elected officials and support our Government’s actions. As the situation continues, we can remain engaged and knowledgeable. When opportunities present themselves for more direct assistance, we can step up according to our capacity to do so.
The musing of the English poet John Donne seems appropriate at this time, generally he said that anyone’s death diminishes us, for we are each involved with humanity, and he suggested that we ‘don’t ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee’. Our bells are ringing. We are all connected to the situation the Ukrainian people are suffering through. Our hearts and thoughts go out to them.