- Those who claim it is their responsibility to differentiate between Russian citizens’ beliefs and decisions.
- Arutyunova compared the invasion to a war between Alberta and British Columbia to put the invasion into context for Canadians.
- Although Gillingham and Arutyunova have never faced any form of targeted hatred in Edmonton, hearing those stories is upsetting.
People worldwide, including Russian-Canadians, have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Those who have asserted that it is their responsibility to distinguish between Russian citizens’ beliefs and their decisions.
Both Ekaterina Gillingham and Elena Arutyunova immigrated to Canada from Russia, and Edmonton residents say they oppose the invasion’s violence.
“I’d like it to come to a halt as soon as possible,” Arutyunova stated. “It’s impossible to understand what’s going on.”
Gillingham and Arutyunova, like many Russians, have strong ties to both sides of the conflict. Arutyunova is half-Russian, half-Ukrainian, and was raised part-time in both nations, while Gillingham’s great-grandmother is Ukrainian.
To put the invasion in perspective for Canadians, Arutyunova compared it to a war between Alberta and British Columbia.
Although she left Russia many years ago, she said she still feels a great deal of shame.
“I am still Russian, even though I didn’t do anything and have lived here for 20 years,” Arutyunova said. “It’s interesting to see what your country is doing because it affects me as well.”
Gillingham stated that she left Russia for the safety of her son. She stated that she did not even want her kid to deal with several political conflicts in which Russia was involved.
“I have yet to meet a single person who believes in the war or the war concept.”
When it comes to media, Arutyunova claims that Russia’s population is now living in an “information bubble” and that Russians “do not hear everything they should hear.” She went on to say that not everybody is aware of what is going on outside of the country.
Some Russian community personnel in Canada have been harassed as a result of the invasion. A Russian community center in Vancouver was vandalized with blue and yellow paint. Police in Calgary is looking into online harassment of Russian-Canadians.
Although Gillingham and Arutyunova have not experienced any type of targeted hate in Edmonton, hearing those stories is distressing.
While both women understand the anger, they believe that targeting Russian immigrants in Canada is not the solution.
“Those actions are not beneficial to Ukrainians,” said Arutyunova.
Gillingham stated that she wants Ukraine to win the war and that she believes the conflict is between “human beings and evil” rather than between countries.
With new legislation in Russia allowing for the punishment of those who criticize the war, Gillingham believes it is up to Russian-Canadians to message that they do not endorse the violence.
“We must not be complacent in repeating the message that politics and people are not the same,” she said.
“We are human beings who are here to assist.”
Source: Global News
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