CENES hosted flash teach-in on the Ukraine conflict

UBC and TRU worked together to inform the university’s community about Russia and Ukraine

With the news of Russia invading Ukraine last week, TRU is hoping to ease any unknowns for students with a refresh on the complicated political history that happened prior to today’s conflicts.

The almost two-hour event took place on March 2 via Zoom with the purpose to inform those interested in the historical background of the two countries and what led to the conflict happening now. This was one of the many events taking place during the week.

The seminar featured nine speakers from different universities including TRU, UBC, Emily Carr University of Art + Design and Western Washington University. Speakers ranged from professors to Ph.D. students and participants were encouraged to submit questions before the event for the speakers to answer.

The event was organized by the Eurasia Research Cluster at UBC, where they have experts from all over the universities in BC.

Olga Belokon from UBC opened the floor by telling a short story on her schooling years in Russia. She mentions that Russian kids in school were never taught the real stories of how they invaded countries and were told that it happened through signing treaties.

“This is what I was taught growing up. And what I was quite proud of, since then I have learned to change those views,” Belokon said.

She goes on to encourage the participants to reflect on the lands we are currently on to make the situation happening in Ukraine better understandable.

“I would like you not only to reflect on the history of Ukrainian lands, as we speak today, but on the history of UBC lands, Vancouver lands, and Canadian lands,” Belokon concluded.

All speakers were knowledgeable in the culture and politics of Russia, Ukraine and the previously known Soviet Union. They focused much of their discussions on the actions that people from both countries could take, including the anti-war protests currently happening in Russia.

“The next question is, will these protests change anything? Could this be the end of Vladimir Putin’s rule in Russia? Could it at least lead to a decision to stop the invasion of Ukraine?” Lisa Sundstrom, professor of political science at UBC, said about the protests taking place.

The participants left the seminar with a better understanding of both countries, and with a task to reflect on the use of media’s involvement. Whether they could focus more on the invaded countries or the understanding of Vladimir Putin’s intention.

While those attending the Flash Teach-in could not directly participate during the presentations, most of the questions submitted before the Zoom webinar were answered and mentioned during the talks.

The seminar ends with an invitation to join the next events regarding the conflicts of Ukraine and Russia. The link for those can be found on the UVIC website.

There will also be a film screening and discussion focused on the war in eastern Ukraine, the film is called Bad Roads. The discussions about the film will be done by the director of the film, Natalya Vorozhbyt.

TRU will continue to hold events related to the recent conflict, and the wellness centre is accepting students affected by the events in Ukraine and Russia to have a chat about mental health or a well-deserved break.