Ukrainian Montrealers host evening for one-year anniversary of refugees’ arrival

The event was also hosted in celebration of Easter and those who helped the refugees come to Montreal.

On Good Friday, church Église Espoir in Longueuil, a place of community and faith, opened its doors in celebration of Ukrainian refugees and the families who aided them. 

Last year, efforts by Ukrainian Montrealers, the Shapovalov family, culminated in the safe arrival of eight families, comprised mostly of their relatives.

From posting flyers to taking to social media, the Shapovalovs’ spent their time raising awareness for the family members they hoped to see safe.

They also organized a GoFundMe, which their youngest daughter, Iana Shapovalova, helped set up. The funds currently accumulated stand at over $40,000. 

A year has passed and the Shapovalovs’ endeavors yielded more than they had expected. With help from both members of their church and beyond, including refugee processes by the Canadian government, all eight families made their way to Quebec by May of last year. 

“I still have strong feelings about the people who are still there,” said Iurii Semikin, refugee and relative of the Shapovalovs’. “Especially for the children, I think it hits them harder than [adults].”

Iurii Semikin on stage presenting pictures taken from his time in Ukraine to the attending crowd at chruch Église Espoir in Longueuil on April 7th 2023/ Photo courtesy of Antoine Rabeau Daudelin

The event was coordinated by the Shapovalov family and included testimonies from refugees, Semikin included. The testimonies detailed the trials of living in the east of Ukraine, days shortly after Russia’s invasion. 

The celebration included performances of Ukrainian songs, sung by younger members of the extended family, as well as other celebrations of Ukrainian heritage. This included a quiz on general knowledge of Ukraine where attendees could participate on the website Kahoot! independently. The evening’s festivities concluded with a musical performance by the attending family members. 

Semikin, a father of three, was one of the first to arrive in Montreal along with his family. He had the Shapovalovs’ to thank for helping with the process of moving.

From the start of the invasion, developments occurred hour by hour, according to Semikin. As borders closed, Semikin had to ensure the safety of his family. Living in Mariupol, his brothers and uncles were hit the hardest, losing houses overnight and forced to cook over a campfire. 

Before the process of emigrating to Montreal was complete, Semikin would drive around his impacted city with his brothers in a van lending aid to those in need. 

Following the ease of travel processes thanks to the Canadian government’s Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program, Semikin would finally meet with the Shapovalovs in the safety of Montreal.

“Speaking from the perspective of being in Quebec, despite my gratefulness I find that it has its faults to gain citizenship,” Semikin said.

Semikin is an electrical engineer by trade and currently works for the Réseau Express Métropolitain (REM). Although paying rent for housing and already working a job in his field, he said adjusting to life in Montreal has been challenging. 

Within six months, immigrants must learn conversational French, and can only be considered permanent residents after living in Canada for two years. 

To obtain permanent residence, Semikin was required to fulfill certain criteria beforehand. This included being trained in certain professions according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC).

Despite his struggles, he was grateful for the families that aided in funding his safe arrival, and to a country that gave him the opportunity to live a normal life again. 

“It happens, it’s hard times now, but we must have faith and find strength in that,” Semikin said. 

“We felt a duty, in a sense, to get them to safety,” said Ilya Shapovalov, the eldest Shapovalov  son and software engineering student at McMaster University. “After we felt like these families, my family, have often been heard of by those who helped, but we felt it right to present them and to thank them publicly, because it’s very touching.” 

Shapovalov said days leading up to the invasion in February of last year were filled with anxiety. His family had already contacted their relatives in Mariupol, trying to convince them to consider leaving the area. 

As the first sirens of war rang across the country, Shapovalov said his family’s efforts to aid their relatives were put to action, prompting the aforementioned posts on social media and the GoFundMe page. 

“The government of Canada did a lot to help Ukraine, but you know, there are also people here who helped locally,” Shapovalov said. 

Aid for refugees came from more than simple payments. Some provided a roof over the heads of newly-arrived Ukrainians. 

“It was like a long journey for them, and they were just exhausted. They were just happy to see a bed,” said Robert Kulka, a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur who, along with this wife, offered to provide temporary housing to a family of refugees. “Now they don’t have to worry about where they’re going to go next, you know?”

Kulka learned of the Shapovalovs’ efforts last year from matriarch Olena Shapovalova. She had set up a poster at her place of business, a butcher’s shop in Greenfield Park, Longueuil, hoping to gain attention from potential donors. 

According to Kulka, what would have been a lengthy process was shortened thanks to the temporary emergency residency offered by the government. 

The family Kulka took in needed time to process the memories of their previous home, with a journey riddled with overlays. 

“I think it’s hard for me to dissect between what is usually adjustment and trauma,” Kulka commented. “There’s the little one, say yesterday, if there was an airplane flying low over our house, she would duck.” 

Nonetheless, Kulka said his new residents are adjusting to average life in Montreal fairly decently. He and his wife helped register the children in school and assisted their parents in finding work. 

Kulka mentioned the family’s integration into regular Montreal life was something he thought they needed after their long journey. 

“If you hang in limbo and don’t do things, you don’t have anything to do, you start to despair,” Kulka said. “And their bond within the family? It’s very strong.” 

Hanna Pliushchakova, a mother of five children, planned to leave Ukraine after developments on the eastern front in 2014. 

Seeking asylum in Spain, her family’s application for citizenship was denied. Forced to return to Mariupol, conflict was always in the background, an aspect of their lives that would only worsen as Russia’s invasion fully commenced. 

“Every day, we could hear explosions because our home was so close to the edge of the city,” Pliushchakova said. “We decided to move somewhere again, because it was hard finding a place in Ukraine, so we decided to look for a home somewhere else.”

Olena Shpovalova, sister to Pliushchakova, alerted her of the possibility of going to Canada, which would be funded by the Shapovalovs. 

Pliushchakova said the government was fast to react to her family’s needs in receiving status as refugees, which helped in easing their built-up stress. 

However, Pliushchakova’s family was taken in by Montreal residents, similar to Kulka. She mentioned that she was thankful for the event hosted by the Shapovalovs, as she got the chance to meet many of the people who helped face-to-face, including donors, church members, and other people who took families in. 

The evening was capped off by traditional Ukrainian dishes served and prepared by various members of the church, including the Shapovalovs and their extended family.


Concordia scholar helps Ukrainian refugees heal through dance

As Ukraine enters the second year of war, Tetiana Lazuk uses dance-movement therapy to help refugees

One year after the beginning of the war, Ukrainian refugees in Montreal are working to heal from their difficult experiences and get settled in their new life. In the heart of the Mile End, the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada (UNF) offers wellness activities to help refugees find community through dance-movement therapy.

Tetiana Lazuk is a Ukrainian dance therapist and a scholar-in-residence at Concordia, and she leads dance-movement sessions at the UNF. During these classes (which are taught in Ukrainian), she helps refugees heal from their difficult experiences in the war through dance. 

“It’s not only this psychological support, wellness,” she said, “but it’s also helping to connect people who have a lot in common, and helping them to find their place and to establish here in Canada.”

While the war has faded from public attention in the past few months, it is still very real for Ukrainians in Montreal and throughout the world.

“On Feb. 24, 2022, many people thought that Ukraine would cave within a few days, if not a few weeks,” said Michael Shwec, president of the Quebec Provincial Council of Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “We’re coming up to a year, right now, where the Ukrainian people are very resolute in their defense of their territory, their culture, their language.”

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress represents 1.4 million Ukrainians around Canada, according to their website. While they have supported the Ukrainian community from their beginnings, work has increased considerably in the last year. 

“We need to help [displaced Ukrainians] land and be successful in Canada, for those who wish to stay,” said Shwec. “That means everything from housing to education, to employment, to have some sense of normalcy in their lives, and help them bridge that gap from Ukraine to here, as best as possible.”

This is exactly what Lazuck strives to do. She lived in Ukraine until 2009, when she moved to Canada to continue her studies in dance-movement therapy. She started working with Ukrainian refugees at the UNF in September.

Lazuk pointed out that her experience moving to Canada was very different from many refugees. She was prepared for her new life, for the changes it would bring, and for the challenges she would need to overcome. The refugees she works with did not get that preparation.

“These people were forced to leave their country, and many of them had excellent, great professions, perfect life conditions, and now they are forced to move to another country,” said Lazuk. “Many of them don’t speak English or French, so they need to learn, they need to adapt.”

The UNF’s aim is to provide refugees with the resources to do just that. The organization helps Ukrainians find a community and adjust to their new life in Canada. 

According to Lazuk, specialized psychotherapy is important to help them process their experiences in the war. On the flip side, her dance-movement sessions help Ukrainians connect with their community and handle the hardships of leaving their homeland.

“They meet all together, they discuss what problems they’re facing, and how to get through this,” she said.

“The dance-movement therapy sessions provide something through the body that allows them to not only be in their head, but moving, connecting, and sometimes forgetting what they have in their head.”

Since last year, the Canadian government has implemented many measures to help Ukrainians coming into the country. In March 2022, the government created a new emergency travel visa for Ukrainians. 

However, the war is not over, said Shwec. “As long as genocide continues in Ukraine, which it does, there’s never enough done. Enough will be when Russian forces are out of Ukraine and the genocide stops,” he said.

“Before our lives, livestreamed, is a genocide happening in what has been a very peaceful European country. The onus is on every single student to reflect on what is actually happening, and to make sure that you take a stand, and you defend the values that you believe in.”

The last time Lazuk visited her home land was in November 2021, to see her and her husband’s families — a few months before the beginning of the war. She looks forward to the next time she can visit her country, hopefully soon.

“We all hope that finally, peace comes to Ukraine, and we will be able to visit our family and help in rebuilding our country,” she said. 

“Here in Canada, life continues. We have plans, we continue working. Dancing.”


A Ukrainian family reunion in Montreal

The first of eight Ukrainian families funded and supported by Ukrainian Montrealers arrives in Canada, following Russia’s invasion of their home

For the past month, Iana Shapovalova and her family have been raising money to bring eight families, a total of 37 people, to Canada from Ukraine. The first of these families arrived in Montreal on Friday, March 25.

The Shapovalovs are originally from Ukraine and the eight families they are trying to rescue are mostly their relatives.

Iana Shapovalova arrived in Canada in 2013 at 11 years old and until recently was living a normal life; a 19-year-old in her third year of CEGEP, undertaking an internship in computer programming. But, following the news that Russia had invaded Ukraine on February 23, Shapovalova and her family began doing everything they could to bring their relatives to safety.

“I cannot cry or anything, I gotta like, move, I gotta do stuff. Like, this is my way of fighting, to give them a hope, to give them the ideas of ‘Okay. We’ll make sure that you are okay,’” said Shapovalova.

Shapovalova and her family started posting on social media, working tirelessly and doing everything they could to bring their relatives to safety. The GoFundMe page they started has raised $16,837 as of March 28.

Initially, all of the funds were to go to flights and visa applications, but the Canadian government has since made visa applications free for Ukrainian refugees. The first family’s visa application process cost $855 CAD. Initially, the idea to raise money was difficult for her family.

“My family’s the kind of family that, you know, we’re gonna figure it out on our own. Like, we don’t really want to be like those poor guys that need help, you know. But at this point, you got to put yourself down because, you know, it’s for someone else. It’s for families,” said Shapovalova.

A month of fundraising, numerous visa applications, phone calls, interviews and the direct help of a member of parliament (whose identity was not shared), culminated on a rainy Friday on March 25, when the first of eight families funded by the Shapovalovs arrived.

Iana and her brother Illia arrived at the airport at 4 p.m. to meet their family. After the family of seven (including two parents and their five children) landed, they spent another six hours in the airport completing COVID protocols and immigration processes. There was only one other family from Ukraine coming in alongside them.

“They’re pretty much the first ones going through this process,” said Shapovalova.

Iana and Illia patiently waited at the airport the entire time, while their parents waited in the cars to bring them to their arriving relatives to their new home.

Iana’s father took on the role of keeping in touch with family in Ukraine whenever possible.

“Every call was just so important,” said Shapovalova. “Every call, I would just run downstairs just to listen to the conversation, because you never know if you’re gonna hear them another time.”

Hanna Pliushchakova is Iana Shapovalovas aunt and the mother of the first family to arrive. She spoke with The Concordian in an interview which Iana translated. “We never expected to be leaving this way,” Pliushchakova said. “We left when we saw that the danger was unavoidable.

Pliushchakova said the trip was long and tiring but now that they are home and rested it is getting easier. The days leading up to their journey were naturally stressful as well.

“We were very worried not only because of this trip coming up, but also we couldn’t get in contact with some family members that are in Ukraine,” said Pliushchakova.

“There’s this part of worries and there are the anxious thoughts of ‘How is this going to go? What is this whole process going to be like, going somewhere?’ We have no idea.”

Coming from Mariupol, Ukraine the family had a normal life. Pliushchakova mostly stayed home with her children while her husband worked managing a chain of retail stores. Now they do not expect to ever be able to return to Ukraine.

“It’s a double feeling, one point of view is that everything there is destroyed and there is no way back because there’s nowhere to go,” said Pliushchakova.

“The second side of this was that we’re very, very glad that we can start from scratch here in Canada in a safe place.”

While many here in Canada are calling on their government to do more, Pliushchakova finds it difficult to ask for more support.

“It’s hard to tell because there’s this whole overwhelming feeling of getting this help already. The way that Canada is so open to Ukrainian refugees. It’s very, very touching for us and we’re very, very thankful.”

The Pliushchakov family will quarantine with a couple who has offered the basement of their house. Eventually they will rent their own apartment, begin learning French and English and put their five kids into school.

On the day of the first family’s arrival and seeing her family’s work come to fruition, Iana said she is speechless.

“I remember just going to bed and being like, if they can make it, to hear all of them. Like at least like three families. That would be like a miracle. I’m definitely just, you know, speechless. It’s really hard to put it in words, I’m really happy for them,” said Shapovalova.

“But at the end now, you know, just seeing this generosity from people here. It’s such a big contrast to what is happening there. Basically, they’re just sponsoring my family and it’s wonderful.”

Hanna Pliushchakova’s family is the first of eight that the Shapovalovs hope to bring to Canada, with the second family arriving on March 28. Supporters can donate and follow the families journies at their GoFundMe page.

Photo Courtesy of Iana Shapovalova


Universities unite with Montreal community to welcome Ukrainian refugees

Many small efforts contribute to helping the incoming refugees after millions flee the war zone

Following Montreal’s first solidarity rally to support Ukrainians facing the Russian invasion,  Montrealers are proactively preparing for relief efforts to help Ukrainians. The rally was organized by McGill and other universities on Feb. 24. 

On the evening of March 9, Concordia University and Université de Montréal joined together to help the McGill Ukrainian Students’ Association (MUSA) make perogies (a popular Ukrainian dish) and donuts for a fundraiser scheduled the next day. 

All the money collected went to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. 

McGill Ukrainian Students Association’s perogie and donut sale to raise funds for the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/The Concordian

“What can we do as students right now?” asked Julia Hukowich, social and cultural director of MUSA. “You know, it’s small; we can probably only raise a couple of hundred dollars from this, but it’s something,” Hukowich added. 

By the end of their fundraiser, the MUSA collected close to $900, with over 65 students attending the fundraiser showing support.

Annika Pavlin, a first-year international development student at McGill, shared her disappointment towards McGill while in line. 

Concordia, along with McGill, shared their positions regarding the war in Ukraine in recent emails. Both universities defined Russia’s invasion as “conflict.” 

“I’m here to support the private organizations, the clubs that have had to do what McGill is refusing to do, which is raise money, raise awareness,” said Pavlin. 

Vitalia Khmil, president of the Concordia Ukrainian Students’ Union (CUSU), shared the same frustration as Pavlin. 

“They just sent us an email […] they’re trying to stay inclusive. They didn’t mention anything about a war per se. They said ‘conflict,’ and it’s really important to get the vocabulary right because it’s clearly a war going on,” said Khmil. 

Along with Khmil, Markel Reva, VP Finance of the CUSU, agreed Concordia can and should do more to help.

“They provided us with links to psychological care here and helplines, stuff like that, but that’s literally it”, said Khmil.

The current situation in Ukraine is very distressing for students like Khmil and Reva, who are trying to focus on midterms while their extended family is currently in Ukraine. 

“We are trying to contact our universities to see how can we help Ukrainian students because we have midterms, we have exams, we have quizzes, and with all [that] happening […] I couldn’t read a single thing on my paper,” said Reva. 

On Wednesday, Reva met with Andrew Woodall, Dean of Students at Concordia University, hoping to get more help.

“It is still very unclear on the position that Concordia is taking regarding the Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine.”

Woodall suggested that Reva speak with Graham Carr, President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University.

Though Reva can’t do much at Concordia right now, he and his family have offered their help through donations to St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. 

Among the many churches turning into donation centres for Ukrainian refugees, St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church has been accepting donations for refugees since Feb. 26, the third day of the Russian invasion. 

St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church is now receiving a large number of donations every day. 

Donation boxes filled the floor of St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/THE CONCORDIAN

About two weeks ago, Reva’s family opened their home in the South Shore to collect donations 24/7 and bring them to the church. This included medication, clothes, food, hygiene products, sleeping bags, and more. 

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new program to facilitate the immigration process of Ukrainian refugees, Montrealers have been helping newcomers through the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) Montreal Branch. This organization represents around 42,500 Ukrainians in Quebec. 

The UCC helps in different ways, working as volunteers to help newcomers find housing, jobs, assisting with documentation, English tutoring, and more. The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program will accept an unlimited number of Ukrainians who want to come to Canada temporarily. 

“It’s a huge undertaking that needs to be done, and we really appreciate the collaboration that we have with the city of Montreal in particular,” said Michael Shwec, president of the UCC Montreal Branch. 

“We’re in a tight connection with the city to put together a robust plan to welcome them and make sure that they have a safe and warm place to stay,” Shwec added. 

The UCC also provides a link on their website to donate money through the Canadian Red Cross. 

All Montrealers donating to the Red Cross and helping fund medical supplies and other forms of humanitarian aid are making a powerful impact on Ukraine’s ability to defend its people,” said Bogdan Lytvynenko, former news editor for The Concordian

“Every dollar is critical. It is heartwarming and inspiring to see Montrealers donating and joining the rest of the world against the Russian aggression even despite being thousands of kilometres away from the warzone,” Lytvynenko added.



PHOTOS: Montrealers organize in solidarity with Ukraine

Last week, numerous demonstrations across Montreal showed support after Russian forces attacked Ukrainian territory

See photos from Sunday’s rally (Feb. 27).


“Freedom for Ukraine!” solidarity rally

Hundreds gather at Place du Canada on Sunday

Blue and yellow flags were raised and could be seen through the snowflakes as chants of liberty were heard: “UK-RA-I-NA! UK-RA-I-NA! UK-RA-I-NA!”

Michael Shwec, president of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress, organized the event to raise awareness within the Montreal community and show solidarity to his compatriots in Ukraine.

“They are under tremendous stress, they’re suffering out there, the country’s been bombarded, all areas of the country,” Shwec said, “and we want to show them that the Ukrainian community of Montreal is definitely behind them.”

Shwec also wishes this demonstration will help unite the Montreal-Ukrainian community.

“Most people here have family in Ukraine and we need to congregate, stay together in our own community to show support to one another,” he said.

His daughter, Adelia Shwec, was also present at the event. “We’re here today because Ukraine believes in peace and a democratic future, and it’s a sovereign country,” she said. 

“Our people are dying so the least we can do is come support them at this protest.”

Adelia Shwec denounces the attacks of Putin on her population as hatred towards Ukrainians.

“Our aggressive neighbor wants to destroy all of Ukraine and its people, its identity,” she said.

Ivanna Skotar, a family friend of the Shwecs, agreed. “It’s not part of Russia, it never will be,” she said.

Skotar was also present to show support to her community. “We’re Ukrainian, we wear our hearts on our sleeves,” she said, holding up her Ukrainian flag proudly.

Michael Shwec acknowledged the outpour of support that has come from the Canadian population over the last few days and called on the people to increase the support they can lend to Ukraine.

“The arena of the battle is Ukraine, but it’s really a world problem. Democracy is really at stake here,” he said.

On Feb. 26, Canada and other western allies announced that Russia was removed from SWIFT, a “global member-owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services.”

Shwec said this is a good move, but insists on all governments of the world to show support by creating a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“If you can stop the Russian bombers from bombing kindergardens, hospitals and civilians then it’ll make a tremendous difference. So, I think that’s really the next step,” Shwec said.

The Canada-Ukraine Foundation already had a team stationed in Ukraine for humanitarian purposes prior to the war. They are scaling up what they usually do to lend a hand to the people trying to evacuate the country and offer support for those staying behind.

“We’re getting ready for immigration to Canada,” Shwec said, “As a community in Montreal, we’re gearing up to help anybody who might want to come and be with us here in Montreal.”

Even though the Canadian government match of $10 million has already been met, the Red Cross is still accepting donations.

According to their website, the Red Cross’ support “could include preparedness, immediate and ongoing relief efforts, long-term recovery, resiliency, and other critical humanitarian activities as needs arise, both in Ukraine and surrounding countries, including supporting populations displaced.”

“At home, you can share the right information with your friends and family, because there’s a lot of disinformation coming out from Russia,” Shwec said.

“He won’t get away with this, it’s ours, it’s our country […] our grandparents fought for this. We’re not handing it over easy, it’s not happening,” Skotar said.


2010’s biggest news events, and some memorable moments

A new decade is here, bringing with it new events. But before we look forward, here are the 10 defining news events that have set the stage for the 2020s, in no particular order.

Arab Spring

Beginning in December 2010, anti-government protests shook Tunisia and, in 2011, quickly turned into a region-wide uprising referred to as the Arab Spring. This pro-democratic wave of protest that spread across Arabic-speaking countries in Northern Africa and Middle East overthrew the governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. This then led to civil war in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

Release of information

The 2010s were filled with whistleblowers and leaks. Notably, Edward Snowden worked for the National Security Agency and leaked documents about monitoring American citizens. Then U.S. army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning––then Bradley Manning––leaked thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, a website intended to collect and share confidential information, created by Julian Assange.

The Black Lives Matter Movement

On Feb. 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old boy was shot by George Zimmerman, who ended up being acquitted for murdering Martin. This acquittal prompted the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement, an international activist movement against violence and systemic racism towards Black people.

The #Metoo Movement

In October 2017, #Metoo went viral, making international news, encouraging women to share their stories of sexual violence and harrassment. The #Metoo movement brought to light sexual predators like Bill O’Reilly and Harvey Weinstein.

Donald Trump

In 2017, Donald Trump was elected and became the third American president to be impeached. The Trump administration is known for separating migrant families at the border and shutting down the American government for 35 days—the longest in American history—in an attempt to try to force the Democratic party to agree to a deal to build a wall along the Mexican-U.S border.


England held a referendum and voted to exit the European Union in 2016. This created a riff in the country’s political parties, who are unable, to this day, to agree on what may

be one of the biggest decisions in English history in decades.

Climate Crisis

Rising temperatures throughout the past decade have caused an increase in natural disasters around the world. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global temperature will increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 10-years, which will cause devastating damage to the planet. In 2015, 195 nations signed the Paris Agreement, agreeing to keep the global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. The inaction of various government have caused people like Greta Thunberg to mobilize millions across the globe in a climate strike.

America’s School Shooting

There have been approximately 180 school shootings in America from 2009-18, and 114 people have been killed. According to an article by CNN, school shootings have increased since the start of the 2010s.

Russia invades Ukraine

Russian forces occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in an attempt to stop Ukraine from trading with America. Over 10,000 people were killed in the long-lasting conflict between the two countries from 2014-18.

ISIS and the rise of terrorism

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born of an offshoot of Al Qaeda in 2013. The group was involved in multiple terrorist attacks across the world, notably the bombing of a Russian airplane, killing 224 people, and a series of attacks in Paris on the night of Nov.13, 2015, killing 130 people.

Memorable moments

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar 

The only important event of the 2010’s is that DiCaprio won best actor in 2016 for his role in The Revenant. He had been nominated six times prior to his first win.

Said goodbye to Harry Potter

The last Harry Potter movie came out in 2011, ending the 14-year saga of the Wizarding World. The movie series brought in over $7 billion, and the book series sold over 450 million copies with a similar estimated revenue.

Discovery of the Higgs boson 

The Higgs field is theorized to be what gives matter mass and is made up of a particle called the Higgs boson. This particle has been theorized since the 1960s, but was only detected in 2012. This helps add to the understanding of the Standard Model, a theory that explains t hree of the four fundamental forces in physics.

Ice Bucket Challenge

The viral phenomenon of people dumping buckets of ice water over themselves to raise awareness for ALS and fundraise for the ALS Foundation took place in 2014. Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. participated in the challenge. The campaign raised over $10 million in 30 days, and funded a number of projects. One of these was Project MinE who, in 2016, were able to identify a gene associated with ALS which could possibly lead to a treatment.

First photo of a black hole

We got to see the first ever photo of a black hole, located more than 50 million lightyears away in the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy. The photo was created by the Event Horizon Telescope project, a global collaboration of more than 200 scientists using observatories around the world, ranging from the South Pole to Hawaii. It took more than two years to assemble all the photos gathered from all observatories to create an actual image of the black hole.

Discovering new species

Biologists discovered new species at an incredible rate, averaging approximately 18,000 per year. Some of these include the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey and the Vangunu giant rat. New categories for animals were made to describe newfound fish with “hands” and frogs smaller than a dime. Yet, in 2019, scientists warned that a quarter of plant and animal populations are at risk of extinction.


World in Brief: Shooting, whistleblowers and deadly protests

Four people were killed and five injured in a shooting last Sunday in Kansas City. Police said the two suspects opened fired in a busy bar around 1:27 a.m. following a disturbance or fight. According to an article in The Washington Post, the four victims were all Hispanic men, but the police refused to add further comments.

A second whistleblower surfaced on Sunday morning supporting previous allegations on Donald Trump’s exchanges with Ukraine’s president. While they haven’t filed a complaint with the inspector general, attorney Mark Zaid said in an interview with the Associated Press that the whistleblower has “firsthand knowledge that supported” the original claims.

Protest in Iraq over unemployment and corruption are still raging since Oct. 1. The death toll was estimated at 106 on Sunday – five days after the first confrontations between the police and protesters. According to an article in Reuters, the Iraqi government agreed to a plan that increases subsidized housing for the poor, stipends for the unemployed and training programs and small loans initiatives for unemployed youth.

Protesters in Hong Kong defied the law prohibiting marching with a masked face. According to an article in the Agence France Presse, the crowds were “condemning the government for deploying emergency powers to ban face masks at public gatherings.” What started as a peaceful march quickly turned into violent confrontations as police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and physical force.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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