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'It's devastating': Vancouver man says his wife's elderly parents are trapped at home in Ukraine

"They are sitting at home with blackouts on their windows so the Russians don't see them," he said.
Chernihiv-destruction-ukraine
A Vancouver-based Ukraine-born man is imploring the international community to take further action to defend his home country during the Russian war.

"Glory to Ukraine!"

His heart is breaking and the devastation and anger in his voice are readily apparent — but a local Ukraine-born man is imploring the international community to take further action to defend his home country as Russia continues the second week of its full-scale invasion.

"It's devastating," says Mir (Lubomyr) Huculak. "Killing children, displacing people, unbelievable." 

Huculak is the honorary consul of Ukraine in B.C. and knows all too well about the long-term effects of war, particularly for children. His family fled Ukraine after the second world war and he spent time in a displaced persons camp in Bertesgarten, Germany. And while he was just a young boy at the time, some deeply traumatic memories have stayed with him.

"I don't really remember too much but I know bombs were going off when we were in Austria," he recalls. "We went into a bomb shelter and a huge bomb went off just by a bunker and I thought that was the end of the world.

"So you can imagine what these poor people [are] thinking now, as far as bombs going off in every city almost in the eastern part of Ukraine."

Huculak's wife's parents are in their 80s and live in Chernihiv, which is a city located in northern Ukraine roughly 80 miles from the country's capital, Kyiv; it has been particularly hard hit. 

"They are sitting at home with blackouts on their windows so the Russians don't see them," he describes, adding that they aren't in good shape to move anywhere, even if necessary. "And you can't send money to them because banks are closed."

But even if they need something from the store, such as medicine, Huculak says there isn't really anything there. "It's horrid."

He also has friends in Kharkiv, Ukraine, that may have to flee from their homes and relocate to Lviv — the country's westernmost city. 

Huculak and his family are far from alone, however. Many people are concerned about how to get their parents and relatives out of Ukraine, he adds, noting that he receives numerous calls daily from locals. And while many Ukrainians settled in B.C. several decades ago, he estimates that roughly 20,000 of them have come within the last 20 years. 

Now, the Ukraine-born Vancouverite worries that refugees will face difficulties getting to Canada and encourages people to write to their local MPs, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to expedite the process for issuing visas. He also encourages people to donate to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation

Ultimately, however, he says the international community, including countries such as the United States and Britain, must take bolder, immediate action to defend Ukraine.

"They've left Ukraine to its own devices," he remarks, sadly. 

"Such a peaceful, loving country, lovely people."