Віктор Гурняк: “Дорога від Майдану”

Марічка Мельник, Торонто.

Наступний текст є виступом Марічки Мельник, яка є продюсером програми “Here and Now” на CBC радіо, на відкритті фотовиставка Віктора Гурняка “Дорога від Майдану” у Інституті Св. Володимира у Торонті 24 квітня 2015 р. Текст наданий пані Оксаною Закидальською. Віктор Гурняк був фотожурналістом і членом батальйону “Aйдар”. Він загинув 19 жовтня 2014 р. на Луганщині, доставляючи необхідні речі для українських військових.

It is an honour to speak at a tribute to someone like Viktor Hurniak, with whom I am happy to share some things in common. We are both plastuny, both journalists, and both Ukrainians who feel passionately about the events of the last year and a half. It is also humbling, because Viktor did so much with those qualities, and through them made a life meaningful not just to himself, and others. I speak today as someone who feels a connection to his values, his work and his experiences, but who looks on him with some awe because of the example he set in living those things we share.

Ми обоє – пластуни. В Пласті я й Віктор навчилися провідництва, гордости за Україну, зрозуміли цінності нашої культури та громади. From the way he is remembered by his loved ones, it is clear he took the principles of the organization to heart. Він був братерським, сумлінним, старався робити добро. By all accounts, he became a person of character that the organization seeks to grow. I know the standards Plast instills in people, and try to live by them myself, but I also know Plast in Ukraina has a passion for the founding ideals born of being able to reclaim them with the vigour of fresh starts. Віктор жив за Пластовим законом…and from his activity level alone, it is clear he had the drive to strive. It is telling to me that his final act was living the Plast rule…помагай іншим…to help someone in need.

Viktor and I were both drawn to the Maidan, as both journalists and Ukrainians. There is a tension in those roles, as you struggle between being a detached and neutral and credible observer, and a passionate nationalist with an emotional, filial and historical stake in the game. It is tricky ground to navigate. In the end I, the journalist, chose to attend Maidan as a Ukrainian. In my visit in January 2014 before the fighting erupted, this allowed me the pleasure of being immersed in the world of Maidan─місце де люди запрошували до себе переспатися, пропонували щось з’їсти, чогось навчитися чи подискутувати, і ширили відчуття спільної гордости в тому, що ми могли разом визначити нове окреслення розвиваючого українства. I did not have to be neutral, or observe. I collected conversations and photos for myself and to share at home, so that I could be absorbed in my heritage and not need to modulate my affection for the people who welcomed me as a supporter of the cause.

I have come to wonder whether I might have passed Viktor on the street while І was in Kyiv. Можливо ми спали в тому самому будинку, на підлозі, в будинку Профспілок на розі Хрещатику, кілька тижнів перед тим як будинок спалили на чорну руїну. Back then, І would have been a volunteer, connecting with documentary filmmakers and people on the street to see what I could do to help the story along. But he, the Ukrainian, would have been the journalist on the ground, taking pictures, interviewing people, making sure the story got out.

I think about the people I met and talked to and saw, and how any one of them might have been Viktor. We know his story and face, but there were so many others there like him, and so many others lost. Thanks to work Viktor and others like him have done documenting their stories and faces, we have unprecedented knowledge of the fallen and the fighting. There is no unknown soldier. This is not a faceless war.

I went to Maidan because I wanted to be there – to help, and participate in some small, brief way. My heart ripped open when the fight on Maidan exploded, because I wanted to be there too – not as a journalist getting in on a big story, but as a Ukrainian, throwing torn up cobblestones and loading sandbags with snow and doing whatever I could to protect a country I have come to feel part of. Viktor clearly felt the same impulse – to override his journalistic detachment and stop documenting, and start doing. Eventually, it seems, we shared the same overwhelming compulsion, and he traded the information war for the real one.

Не знаю, чи на його місці я б зробила це саме, що він. I’d like to think I would, because I think I can understand how everything he witnessed – the frustration, the anger, the pain, the pride – drove him to join up on the front lines. Приходить, коли все стає особисте й глибоке, що перестаєш розповідати і мусиш стати частиною того, що відбувається. Viktor’s choice to put down his camera and take up arms reflects the passion and drive to act that seems to have fuelled him all his life.

Some would say that passion and drive cost him his life, and it is hard to dispute that. But if we have as much in common as we seem to, I suspect Viktor would agree with me that his was an honourable, if tragic, death He died doing what needed to be done, as he might well have had trouble living with himself knowing he had just watched.

Viktor Gurniak endlessly served: as a Plastun, as a journalist, as a soldier, and as a Ukrainian. Хоч це трагічно скільки таких як Віктор гинуть, ми повинні бути горді з того, скільки готові так зробити. Ukrainians can be proud of people like Viktor who are examples of what kind of people we aspire to be. And we can infuse his short life with meaning by honouring his work and passions in life, and remembering his face and story along with the many he told with his photos.

Thank you, Viktor, and thank you for this opportunity to salute a colleague and fellow Ukrainian.