Resident Remembers Ukraine and Reacts to Conflict

Before the invasion, Oleksandra Guarasci described Ukraine as “social and peaceful”

The citizens of Ukraine are in need since the declaration of war was made against them by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to the WHO health cluster estimates that the number of affected people has climbed from 2.9 million a week ago, to over 18 million today.

“As of 9 am EST on Feb. 28, the Appeal has raised over $4 million from a broad base of supporters across Canada – provincial governments, family foundations, community organizations, credit unions, public and private companies, and thousands of individual donors,” said Orest Sklierenko, President and CEO of Canada-Ukraine Foundation on the Canada-Ukraine Foundation website. “I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from every corner of Canada, who share the horror of the war being waged by Russia against the Ukrainian people.”

Vladmir Putin has publicly stated the reason Russia has invaded is because the country is unable to move forward with the alleged constant threat from Ukraine. He claimed his intentions are to protect people from hatred and genocide within Ukraine, despite there having never previously been any issues of either within the borders of Ukraine.

LaSalle resident, Oleksandra Guarasci lived in Rivne, Ukraine for 25 years before moving to Canada with her daughter and husband. She said she has roots from Russia, and because of this, has always been bilingual.

Photo of Rivne, Ukraine, courtesy of Oleksandra Guarasci

It’s insane how Russia is trying to promote saving people, by killing,” said Guarasci. “There is no need for any of this, these people were happy and peaceful. It’s a bilingual country, though more people are speaking Ukraine. Russia trying to save people in Ukraine is a huge lie. Everyone I know speaks both Ukrainian and Russian, and there has never ever been a threat against them for speaking a different language. This excuse to invade is politically selfish, ignorant, and an example of imperial greed. If someone could try to think about the people, and actually care, they would never bomb their houses or rip away their lives. Never. This is just about Russia trying to eat another piece of another country.”

When asked to describe what Ukraine was like before the conflict, Guarasci said the country was filled with happy, peaceful and social people who value and protect their culture and traditions. It is a place where there is always someone to talk to, always a place to go, and always new things to see.

Photo of Rivne, Ukraine, courtesy of Oleksandra Guarasci

The incredible heritage, the beautiful language and traditions of Ukraine, there’s so much to love,” said Guarasci. “Living in Ukraine, you feel happy, free and so connected to your roots. The values of the culture are very much a part of every day there … and when I heard of the conflict with Russia, all I could do was cry.”

Guarasci still has close family and friends in Ukraine, whom she tries to keep track of and speak with every day. 

“It’s terrible because I’m so far from all my family who are 8,000km away and I feel so helpless,” said Guarasci. “I call my family a couple of times a day. I send messages and ask them to write me anything – even at night. A smiley face, a kiss, a little letter – just so I know everyone is fine safe … I have so many friends and their families in different parts of Ukraine, and they’re all saying there are apartment buildings that were bombed, people are in shelters hiding, they are out of food, out of water, out of supplies. Children are hungry, babies are without formula. People are living with no food, no light no gas, nothing for days. Others are trying to run away from the bombing just to be shot in their cars, the Russian soldiers won’t let them go.

Photo of Rivne, Ukraine, courtesy of Oleksandra Guarasci

Initiatives are gaining more ground to help provide for civilians in Ukraine as Russian soldiers advance into the country and large companies have ceased their services with Russia. Companies such as Shell, YouTube, McDonalds, most car companies like Audi, Mercedes, Ford Motor Company, Disney, Starbucks, and many more (the full list can be seen here).

“We are extremely grateful to all Canadians for their continued generosity and support at this time of need,” said Alexandra Chyczij, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “Putin must be held to account in the International Criminal Court of Justice where he should be tried for war crimes.”

For more information on new events and on-site reports from Ukraine, visit Live Ukraine News or to donate to the cause visit canadahelps.org. Videos are also posted to this Instagram group regularly with updates from residents in Ukraine.

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