Commemorating the Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster
April 26, 2019, marks the 33rd anniversary of the Chornobyl Nuclear Disaster in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) asks all Canadians to pause today in remembrance of the thousands of victims of this terrible tragedy.
On April 26, 1986, a reactor at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant near Prypiat, Ukraine, exploded and melted down, releasing large quantities of radioactive material into the atmosphere. The disaster affected the lives of thousands of people, with the effect still being felt today in Ukraine and Belarus. The radiation has caused an increase in cancer, blood disorders, birth defects and other illnesses. The effects of the disaster were made far worse by the Soviet Communist regime’s obfuscations and attempts to cover up the scale of the tragedy from the world.
Estimates on the number of indirect deaths resulting from the Chornobyl disaster range from the thousands to the tens of thousands. Ukraine and Belarus continue to cope with long-term health, environmental and economic consequences resulting from this disaster.
Many communities across Canada mark the occasion of the anniversary of this tragic event with vigils and solemn commemorations. This year also marks the end of work of the Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund which was established in 1990 to provide humanitarian aid to victims of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster is closing. Please see their final newsletter here.
The Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton (UMCE) has dedicated one of its pieces “Zhuravli – The Cranes” to this tragic event in the world history. The author of the lyrics is Volodymyr Kushyk, 14, from Ukraine who wrote a poem about cranes – “majestic birds, who in the spring always return home to their natural habitat in Ukraine. However, because of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, these birds had no place to return home to…”
The music was composed by Canadian composer Willi Zwozdesky – the younger brother of the late Gene Zwozdesky. “For the past several months, the chorus has collaborated with a Ukrainian artist, Daria Tym, who provided a unique visual perspective for this horrible nuclear tragedy through sand animation,” states the UMCE description on YouTube.