It’s a feeling of helplessness for Grande Prairie’s Ukrainian-Canadian community as the Russian military attacks several cities in Ukraine.
Dozens of explosions have gone off in cities across Ukraine on Thursday, as Russia’s invasion began earlier in the day, including missile attacks on several military and reportedly civilian targets, including the capital of Kyiv.
Father Matthew Drury with the Most Holy Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church says they are monitoring the situation from reports on television as well as contacts on the ground in the embattled country. However, as the hours tick by he says the lines of communications have become less and less reliable. Drury adds that he is scared to see what the next 12 to 24 hours will bring as the attack Thursday morning still seems surreal.
“We are losing contact with our people directly as we speak communication lines are falling,” he says. “We are just going to have to see what happens tonight… it’s during the cover of darkness that [Putin] starts acting.”
Drury says while he and others in the congregation are praying for a peaceful resolution to the quick-moving situation, there is now a generation of people who have grown up in freedom around a national identity as Ukrainians which could see a fierce defence of the independent nation.
“This is not back in the days of the Soviet Union, where people grew up in what was understood as a Soviet republic rather than an independent country,” he says. “Will these people defend themselves? Will they fight back?. If they do, it might change how long this thing carries out.”
Drury says they’ve begun to send some financial relief to civilians in recent hours but will be waiting for the fallout of the invasion before trying to create a more continuous, concrete plan to help aid those in need.
With files from Wendy Gray