On Friday June 1 the Ukrainian War Veterans Association of Canada held a Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Event in Toronto to honour and thank the Canadian Army for its contributions in Ukraine under the auspices of Operation UNIFIER. OpUNIFIER is the Canadian military’s capacity building and mentoring mission in Ukraine working towards stability in Eastern Europe.
UWVAC president Andre Sochaniwsky presented an award to former Canadian Commander of OpUNIFIER, LCol Kristopher Reeves CD, who then shared his experiences and observations of the mission and how it has evolved from its inception in 2015. Reeves presented video clips of the soldiers’ back to basics trench digging to escape the continuing Russian attacks on Ukraine, right up to the pinpoint sniper training exercises he was undertaking on Ukraine’s battlefields. Reeves’ passionate recollections showed us how, in addition to making such great strides in the training and mentoring of Ukrainian soldiers, he has made long-lasting friendships with the Ukrainian soldiers with whom he and his CAF team worked alongside; and he is looking forward to returning to Ukraine.
Reeves stated how this mission is also helping the Canadian Army to prepare for a new type of warfare with an emboldened Russia, particularly as Canadian troops are pre-positioned in Latvia, just 300 km from the border with Russia.
The UWVAC also honoured a great Canadian military leader who has made immense contributions to Canada and its armed forces, presenting its Knight’s Cross Medal to Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk CMM, MSM, CD, current Commander of the Canadian Army and soon to be the next Vice Chief of Defence.
LGen Wynnyk was very honoured and humbled to receive this recognition and emphasized how proud he was to see so many CAF soldiers with Ukrainian bloodlines: from the memorials in Dieppe’s Canadian War Cemetery of many first wave Ukrainian immigrants to Canada from the early 1900’s, to the current mentors, legislators and soldiers he works with today.
Wynnyk recognizes and understands the reality of the ‘Soviet threat’, calling it the menace coming out of Moscow, and vehemently encourages continuing efforts to deter this Russian aggression. One honour he said that he is still hoping to achieve, and join the ranks of other distinguished persons like Chrystia Freeland and earlier commentator MP James Bezan, is to get on Putin’s persona non grata list.
An appreciated and great turnout of a large contingent of the Canadian Armed Forces members, Canada’s Members of Parliament, James Maloney, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, and James Bezan as well as the Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Washchuk, and Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada Andrii Shevchenko, and Ukrainian Defence Attaché Col Victor Siromakha, together with many other leaders of the Ukrainian Community, made this a very successful, entertaining and enjoyable evening.
By: Nadia Prokopiw
Photos: Stephen Parry