The body of a Canadian who died on the front in Ukraine is repatriated by his family | War in Ukraine
The family of Joseph Hildebrand was able to take possession of his ashes in Alberta with the help of a another soldier, Josiah Napier.
After experiencing some difficulties, the family of Joseph Hildebrand was finally able to collect the ashes of the soldier who died in action in Ukraine on December 10th. This Saskatchewanian had left Canada in June to help fight the Russian invasion.
Joseph Hildebrand joined the Canadian Armed Forces after high school and was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Shilo, Manitoba. He fought in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2010.
Joseph Hildebrand had retired from the army and worked on the family farm, but according to his wife, Carissa Hildebrand, there were also times when he wanted to leave to help his fighting brothers. For example, he had tried to fight in Syria during the civil war.
He was torn between these two aspects of his life, the farm and the family, and the life of a soldier. They're two different worlds, says Carissa Hildebrand.
“He was divided all the time.
— Carissa Hildebrand, spouse of Joseph Hildebrand
Carissa Hildebrand says he was shocked to find that the Canadian government was not going to send soldiers to Ukraine after the Russian invasion.
She says that , if she did not understand his decision to leave to fight in Ukraine, she respected it.
Joseph Hildebrand had sent this photo to Carissa at the beginning of his stay in Ukraine. Leaving in June, he lost his life six months later in artillery fire.
On November 7, Carissa Hildebrand learned that her husband had lost his life in Bakhmut , when he rescued wounded comrades. According to soldiers who were present, he died under artillery fire.
After his death, Carissa Hildebrand took steps to repatriate the body of her husband.< /p>
Assist Ukraine, which works with the Ukrainian army, began this process by initiating the process of cremating the body of Joseph Hildebrand and obtaining a death certificate. Subsequently, his ashes would be sent to Canada on a cargo plane.
Carissa Hildebrand did not want her spouse to be repatriated alone in such circumstances. She worked as a team with Swift Current Funeral Home Director Crystal Martens to request that an escort accompany her spouse's ashes during the repatriation.
They were in contacted several agencies and organizations to try to organize this trip, including Assist Ukraine, the Canadian Embassy, Global Affairs Canada and Joseph Hildebrand's combat unit, but none of these organizations seemed to communicate with others.
Crystal Martens says some people did not understand why they were making these requests.
Since the Russian invasion, the federal government has advised Canadians to avoid all travel to Ukraine.
“Your safety is greatly compromised, especially if you take an active part in combat.
—Canadian Government Travel Advisory
On its website, the Government of Canada adds that its ability to provide consular services in Ukraine is very limited and that one should not depend on the Government of Canada in order to leave the country.
One of Joseph Hildebrand's soldier friends, Steve Krsnik, was with him in the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and in Afghanistan. He had helped Joseph Hildebrand register to go to Ukraine.
Steve Krsnik also assisted Carissa Hildebrand and Crystal Martens in their efforts to have someone accompany the ashes.
didn't want it sent alone in a box like a package from Amazon.
—Steve Krsnik, Veteran Soldier
Steve Krsnik laments the lack of assistance from Ottawa in the process of repatriating the ashes of Joseph Hildebrand. He conducted an online fundraiser and raised $27,000 to pay for the costs of returning his friend's ashes.
With help from Carissa Hildebrand and Crystal Martens , he managed to make contact with another Canadian volunteer soldier in Ukraine, Josiah Napier, who agreed to accompany the remains of Joseph Hildebrand to Alberta.
On December 10, Josiah Napier was able to return the urn containing the ashes of Joseph Hildebrand to his family.
With information from Sam Samson