A Walk Commemorating Freedom Fighters

On Sunday, January 9, four Toronto-based Lithuanian Canadians – former Lith. Canadian Youth Association (KLJS) organizers Daina Sablinskas, Lina Samonis, Monika Statkus and Skaidra Puodziunas participated in a 9 km walk to honour Lithuania’s freedom fighters. The hand-made blue forget-me-nots they carried have become the symbol of this commemoration in Lithuania and abroad.

This Thursday, January 13, marks the 31st anniversary of the day when the former Soviet Union used force to overthrow Lithuania’s government, which had declared the country’s independence on March 11, 1990. During the assault in the capital city of Vilnius, 14 people were killed by tanks and hundreds were injured. Those individuals were dubbed the Defenders of Freedom. Every year since then, on a weekend close to January 13, a tribute run, the “Road of Life and Death”  is organized in Lithuania, and similar events were also started abroad a few years ago. 

Why 9 kilometres? This is the distance from Lithuania’s TV Tower, where the Defenders of Freedom were killed, to the capital’s Antakalnis cemetery, where their bodies are buried. 

The walk on Sunday the 9th began at Toronto’s Lithuania Park on Keele Street and ended at the  Lithuanian Church of the Resurrection, neighbouring the Lithuanian Nursing Home Labdara and the Resurrection Lithuanian Credit Union. Hand-made forget-me-nots were carried by participants.  Why these flowers? The Lithuanian Embassy in Canada notes, “By wearing the badges of forget-me-not flowers we remember and honour those killed during the Soviet military aggression in Vilnius in January 1991.” 

Participating in this walk was a way to join Lithuanians and friends of Lithuania across Canada, and globally, as we “grew” and “planted” our meadow of forget-me-not flowers at key Toronto Lithuanian establishments, to honour the past, and the role our Lithuanian spaces have played in shaping our community. 

The walk specifically included stops at the following locations: Lithuania Park at 155 Oakmount Rd. at Keele St.; Lithuanian House, 1573 Bloor St. W.; Vilnius Manor, 1700 Bloor St. W.; Parama Credit Union, 2975 Bloor St. W.alkLithuanian Resurrection Parish, Lithuanian Nursing Home “Labdara” and Resurrection Lithuanian Credit Union at 1-5 Resurrection Rd. in Etobicoke.