Ukrainians in Canada are doing everything they can to help their families overseas as they flee in desperation or go into hiding in Ukraine.
In a cramped hiding space, five kilometres north of Kyiv, Serhii Marchenko’s friends and family are desperately hiding out from the bombing.
“It’s devastating, it destructs myself inside when I’m here and I cannot do anything,” he said.
Marchenko is also Ukranian, but currently lives in Ontario for college.
The 19-year-old keeps in touch with his loved ones in Ukraine via video conferencing.
“Every night when I talk to my Dad I hear the explosions and I hear that something is going on,” he said.
“When I look at his eyes, I see the fear.”
His sister’s family has escaped to shelter in the western region, where they received water and food.
“They are escaping in terrible conditions because a lot of people are trying to escape to the west,” he said.
Marchenko is doing everything he can to help, that includes coordinating his family’s movements and sending updates.
Meanwhile, Victoria Brunetta is also feeling the pain of seeing her family in crisis overseas.
“They are just trying to get a sense of what their options are at this time and taking it day by day. Actually, hour by hour really,” said Brunetta, who lives in Ottawa.
Most of her family is sheltering near Kyiv right now, while some are in the neighbouring country of Georgia.
“My aunt is a nurse so she has been deemed an essential war person,” said Brunetta. “Even if she wanted to leave, she needs to be there to help with any possible casualties.”
Brunetta started a petition calling for the government to loosen visa restrictions for Ukrainians with family in Canada.
“That is the only way that we can efficiently get our families out,” she said. “We have nothing to offer them because if we wanted to fly them out today, we would, but we can’t so that is a scary place to be.”
Brunetta says for families that have already left Ukraine, it would mean fewer immigration barriers.