Canadian Ukrainians hope for quick resolution as tension mounts
Published Sunday, March 2, 2014 5:39PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, March 2, 2014 6:11PM EST
Canadian Ukrainians living in Waterloo Region, have been keeping a close eye on the conflict and chaos in their native country.
The last few weeks have been stressful for Walter and Ruth Semeniuk of Waterloo who have family in Ukraine. Their son Johnny Semeniuk has lived and worked in Kiev for the last five years.
“It bothers me as Ukrainian to see this and then as a parent I’m concerned” says Walter.
“It’s not the distance, it’s the security, knowing he'll be ok” says Ruth.
A few weeks ago, Walter went to Ukraine on a weekend trip to visit and check up on his son, he says while he was there he could sense the anxiety.
“You wouldn’t really think something is going on when you are walking around, but there is tenseness in the air, their anticipating something happening” says Walter
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada is advising against all travel to Crimea and Kyiv.
Saying that there is no nationwide advisory in effect for Ukraine, but that travelers and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs says Canadians should not travel to Crimea, a region in the southern part of Ukraine that’s currently the main flashpoint of the crisis.
The department said Canadians presently in the region should consider leaving “while it is safe to do so.”
Despite the unrest and the Canadian government's travel advisory to Kyiv, Johnny and his wife have decided to stay in the country
“I’m so proud that Ukrainians are sick and tired of that and no matter how much the government tries to supress them; they keep coming out the street. It truly makes me such a proud Ukrainian myself” says Johnny.
Johnny, a Wilfrid Laurier University graduate, speaks with his parents almost daily to ensure them everything is okay. But now the stakes are even higher. Johnny and his wife are expecting their first child in the next few months
“It is a little concerning with having a baby on the way, we are wondering what kind of country the baby will be born in to in May.”
Canada's foreign affairs minister says the country will work with its allies in deciding on future sanctions against Russia for its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
John Baird says there will not be any western military intervention to force Russia to pull its troops out.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada will boycott preparatory meetings of ministers and officials for June's G-8 summit in Sochi.
Walter says when he was in the country a few weeks ago, he spoke to a lot of people about the recent events.
“Everyone I talked to, whether it be young or old, there whole purpose for all of this was to have a future for Ukraine, that they would have the same opportunities that anybody else would.”
It will be the first grandchild for Walter and Ruth. Both say that by their next visit, they’re hoping Ukraine will be a much different country.
With files from The Canadian Press
Walter and Ruth Semeniuk of Waterloo hold a wedding photo of their son Johnny, who lives and works in Kyiv. Photo Courtesy: Marc Venema
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