Iryna Matsiuk checks the news as soon as she wakes up every morning and hopes that the expanding Russian and Ukrainian crisis will not endanger her family.
Matsiuk, who has lived in Saskatoon since 2011, has a sister who lives in the capital Kiev, and her mother and grandmother live in the northwestern part of Volyn.
“Last weekend I was actually putting pressure on my sister and asking,’Are there any plans to evacuate?'” Machuk said. “(Kiev) is a big city, and it’s not the easiest city to get out of, especially if everyone starts to leave.”
Her friends and family in Ukraine remain calm amid heightened tensions with Russia, but Machuk said she couldn’t help but worry about them.
“For now, we still hope there is some sort of solution that may not be diplomatic, as it doesn’t seem like a likely scenario, but at least stopped at the current location. And I won’t escalate anymore, “she said.
Matsiuk, a volunteer at the Saskatoon branch of the Ukraine-Canada Conference in Saskatchewan, holds a rally in the city to draw attention to Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.
The group’s next rally will take place on Wednesday night in front of Saskatoon City Hall.
However, the threat of intensifying war and aggression is affecting much of Canada, where more than one million Ukrainians live, census data show.
Matsiuk said that growing up in the Soviet Union meant that many Ukrainian cultures, including dance and music, were not encouraged.
She said she was happy to come to Canada for the first time and see many of her country’s traditions practiced by people whose families have been here for generations.
Vitalii Milentyev, chairman of the Alberta Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, said Ukrainians began to settle in Canada over 120 years ago and each generation always wanted an independent Ukraine.
“Since the first Ukrainians arrived here, that part of the world and its territory have been under the control of someone else … and for those who fled the country, those rare moments of independence are very It was desired, “said Millentiev, who lives in Edmonton.
“In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, there was overwhelming joy and widespread support for Ukraine, probably because it was the first time in three or four generations that ancestors came to the country in search of a better life. A glimpse of their hope for their homeland. “
Late Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the two regions of eastern Ukraine as independent organizations and ordered troops to be sent to these regions for “peacekeeping” missions. This move has been seen as a continuation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In 2014, Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and then annexed it.
On Tuesday, Canada announced sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin’s deployment of troops in eastern Ukraine.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said economic sanctions would ban Canadians from all Putin-approved financial transactions between the Donetsk and Luhansik regions. Sanctions also target members of the Russian Parliament who voted on a decision to approve a separatist region and ban Canadians from engaging in the purchase of Russian sovereign debt.
Trudeau also said Canada has sent up to 460 additional Canadian Army members to Latvia and its surrounding areas to strengthen NATO.
Putin “can only understand the words of power and power,” Milentiev said.
He said Canada needs to provide humanitarian assistance to arm Ukraine, strengthen its country and force Russia to negotiate.
Millentiev’s parents still live in Odessa, and if things get worse, he said he would look for a way to get them out of Ukraine.
Putin argued that his government also protected the rights of Russian-speaking Ukrainian minorities in the eastern part of the country.
But Millentiev, who grew up to speak Russian, said they did not need Russian protection.
Denys Volkov, a Russian-speaking Ukrainian, also agreed.
“It doesn’t matter what language you speak. Ukraine is a multi-ethnic country and people still want Ukraine to be independent,” said Volkov, who has lived in Winnipeg for 16 years.
“You can speak your favorite language. It’s a free country. Is it a democratic country? Russian-speaking Ukrainians have the same rights as others.”
Mr Volkov said Canadians should be concerned about Russia’s expansionism as Canada shares its border with the Arctic Circle.
“I disagree with those who think this conflict is happening far away from Canada and it doesn’t matter to us,” he said.
“What Russia is doing can affect everyone in the future.”
To Daniela Germano