November 21, 2021. OTTAWA, ON. Today, the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians all over the world mark the Day of Dignity and Freedom. On November 21, 2013, the Ukrainian people rose up to defend their right to choose their own common destiny and their right to freedom and democracy.
In response to the Yanukovych regime’s refusal to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, the Ukrainian people took to the streets in protest. On the night of November 29-30, at Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv, the regime responded with violence. Yanukovych’s security forces attacked and savagely beat student demonstrators.
The next day, hundreds of demonstrators were joined by millions. In Kyiv, and cities and towns across the country, the Ukrainian people demanded that their government hear their voice. So began the Revolution of Dignity.
In Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian community organized in support of the democratic rights of the Ukrainian people. Rallies and demonstrations were held, aid and assistance were sent, emergency debates were held in Canada’s Parliament, and our community here stood together with our sisters and brothers in defence of a free and democratic Ukraine.
Months of peaceful demonstrations were met by the Yanukovych regime with increasing repression and political violence. On February 18-20, 2014, the Yanukovych regime opened fire on its own people. But the Maidan withstood the regime’s assault and the regime retreated. Yanukovych fled, abdicating his office. The Ukrainian people succeeded in defending their freedom.
More than 100 brave Ukrainian patriots were killed in those days by Yanukovych’s security forces. Their names and their faces are today etched upon stone in Ukraine’s capital. They shall forever be remembered as the Heavenly Hundred – Небесна Сотня – and they gave their lives so that Ukraine may be free. We honour their memory. Вічная Пам’ять.
Today the freedom that was won by the Ukrainian people during the Revolution of Dignity is under threat from a foreign aggressor. For eight years, Russia has waged war on Ukraine, seeking to subjugate the Ukrainian people to Russia’s tyranny.
Just as the Revolution of Dignity was an expression of the Ukrainian people’s centuries-long struggle for liberty and self-determination, today, on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian people courageously defend those same ideals. Their cause is the cause of free peoples the world over. With God’s help they will be victorious.
Слава Україні! Героям Слава!
To learn more about the Revolution of Dignity, please see: National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred – Museum of the Revolution of Dignity