Canadian veteran from Saskatchewan killed in Ukraine while fighting, family says

A Canadian military veteran from Saskatchewan has died while volunteering on the front lines in Ukraine, according to family members.

Joseph Hildebrand, 33, was killed during a mission in Ukraine a few days ago, his brother Jacob Hildebrand told the Star on Tuesday. Joseph was from Herbert, a town of about 800 people west of Regina.

Jacob says he received a phone call from other members of his brother’s fighter group on Monday and was told there had been a shooting over the weekend. His brother was « hit by some kind of explosive, » Jacob said, adding that other members of the group also died.

A few weeks ago, Joseph was near Bakhmut, a town in Donetsk Oblast, his brother said. The area has recently seen heavy fighting, with the town of Bakhmut under siege, according to a Reuters report.

Joseph had served twice in Afghanistan with the Canadian military, family members told The Star. He left for Ukraine in June and joined a group that has been fighting ever since.

« He was well loved by the whole crew, it seems, » Jacob said. “Everyone who knew him here, same thing. He was a hard worker, he could do anything – mechanic, weld – like, he could do anything.

« He was a good guy. Like, man, we’re going to miss him.

Joseph leaves behind a long-time companion, his daughter, three brothers and his mother. He was the second oldest of four brothers.

« They are mourning the loss of one of the best brothers ever, » Jacob said. « Just a great all-around person. »

Discussions between the family and the federal government have begun on how to retrieve the body, which is still in Ukraine, Jacob said. The Star has sent a request for comment to the Foreign Office.

Clayton Hildebrand, 23, and a cousin of Joseph’s, told the Star the loss would be felt by many in the tight-knit community.

« He was a good man who really valued his family and spent a lot of time with his family on the farm, » his cousin said.

« He was a really hardworking man. »


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