YORKTON — With Russian troops invading Ukraine and threatening the country’s capital Kyiv, concerns grow among Canadians, and particularly those with ties to Ukraine.
“It’s a little bit of everything right now,” said Larissa Vancaeseele of Yorkton regarding the emotions she is feeling as Chair of the Yorkton branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
From the time Russian troops began to amass along the border with Ukraine Vancaeseele said there was “concern and frustration at the same time,” and once the missiles began to fly and bullets fired the level of fear grew.
“You can’t believe it’s happening. It’s unbelievable,” she said.
And the situation is changing hourly, making it difficult to stay ahead of in terms of a response, said Vancaeseele, noting even the national organization “can’t keep up on talking points. It’s changing all the time.”
Locally, there has long been a significant population with family roots in Ukraine, and the situation is especially difficult for them.
“There’s a lot of Ukrainians in the community here that have family in Ukraine,” said Vancaeseele, adding there is a concern for the safety of family and friends there.
Vancaeseele did praise Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his announcement that refugees from Ukraine will be fast-tracked for immigration to Canada.
Efforts are also under way to show support for Ukraine and its people.
Sunday at 2 p.m. a rally will be held at City Centre Park in the city, said Vancaeseele who added it will not be a long event, but it will be a chance to show support for Ukraine with signs and flags.
The Canada Ukraine Foundation has also set up a Go Fund Me page as a humanitarian appeal for support. The site, currently “paused and under review to ensure it complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations,” had already seen pledges of $ 1,228,340 before the review.
Vancaeseele said it’s just the start of organizing to help Ukraine and its people.
“With what’s happening right now there will be need for economic support and humanitarian aid,” she said.
And there is the lingering worry the situation could escalate into a much larger conflict.
“Russia has taken on that aggressive stance. We’re very worried about that,” said Vancaeseele, adding again the situation seems so unbelievable. “. . . Honestly I can’t believe this just happened.”