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Sask. farmer sacrifices life fighting for Ukraine

Sask. farmer sacrifices life fighting for Ukraine

Joseph Hildebrand died near Bakhmut

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Carissa, Joseph and Jovi Hildebrand. (Carissa Hildebrand/CBC photo)

A Saskatchewan farmer is being remembered as a hero for his sacrifice while helping defend Ukraine from Russian forces.

Joseph Hildebrand, who grew up working on his family’s farm near Herbert, and who also served two tours with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, died Monday near Bakhmut.

Nine of the 12 people in his unit died during the attack.

They were transporting wounded soldiers to a front-line medical clinic, the Globe and Mail reported.

Joseph was “hit by an explosive of some sort,” his brother, Jacob, told the Toronto Star.

The 33-year-old left Canada for Ukraine on June 11.

He wanted to go to show that the world stands with Ukraine.

“The whole world needs to stand up against Putin and Russia’s aggression,” Hildebrand said about his reason for wanting to fight for Ukraine, a source within the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, told the Globe and Mail. “And that ‘this is the best way I can support and uphold my morals and beliefs.’”

Hildebrand leaves behind his partner, Carissa, and their daughter, Jovi.

Carissa received a call from members of his team about what had happened.

“He was killed pulling other guys out that were injured,” she told CBC. “That’s exactly who he is. The most selfless man I’ve ever known.”

Many people are remembering Hildebrand, and thanking him for his service to Canada and sacrifice for Ukraine.

“My sincere condolences to the family of Joseph Hildebrand – a brave Canadian who stood with Ukraine and died in action in the Donetsk region,” Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrainian MP, said on Twitter. “He will be remembered by Ukrainians as (a) true hero in the battle for freedom.”

Premier Scott Moe also paid tribute to Hildebrand.

“Joe was a true Saskatchewan hero,” he said on Nov. 9. “His decision to take up arms once again to defend Ukraine was a remarkable demonstration of courage and selflessness. We mourn with all of those who knew and loved Joseph Hildebrand.”

Members of Saskatchewan’s ag community remembered Joe too.

The Herbert Stampede’s Facebook page remembers Hildebrand as “generous, thoughtful, and selfless. He was a valued member for the Herbert Stampede and also volunteered for the CCA finals every year that it was hosted in Swift Current. You could always count on Joe.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family cover the costs of bringing Hildebrand back home.

To date, the fundraiser has collected $1,815 of its $20,000 goal.

“We are raising these funds to cover transportation costs and fees related to getting Joe home to return to his family where he belongs. All leftover funds will be placed in a Trust Fund for his daughter,” the fundraiser says.

Once he is home, the plan is to have him cremated and his ashes spread on the land behind his farm. That’s where Joseph wanted them, Carissa told CBC.

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