'Anxiety levels have increased': Local concern for tension in Ukraine

Parishioners at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Sophia in Waterloo are concerned with the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“There are different strategies that people adopt, some just avoid the subject, but think about it. Others are talking about it and are concerned about it,” said Ivan Jaworsky, a church member, and retired political science professor at the University of Waterloo.

According to Jaworsky, his friends in Ukraine have no plans to come back to Canada, but hope tensions settle between the two countries.

“They’re ready to stick it out if there is a conflict,” Jaworsky said.

Jaworsky's been told by people living in Ukraine, they have contingency plans to flee to other areas or neighbouring countries.

“They’re very much aware of what could happen, and they’re, in a way, used to the country being in a state of, not war, but of conflict, with a very large and powerful neighbour,” added Jaworsky.

Father Myroslaw Tataryn, pastor at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Kitchener, said concerns are also growing amongst members there.

“I think over the past 10 days, anxiety levels have increased,” Father Tataryn said.

He's worried about the threat of having Russian military in the region, along with military support for NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

“One chap this morning was saying, ‘I don’t know what to do, I’ve got family there, but how much can I really help from here?’ So it’s anxiety, it’s fear, it’s also a feeling of helplessness,” Father Tataryn said.

Father Tataryn said his service always includes prayer for good health, but now he's including an additional prayer.

“We’ve been praying for peace in Ukraine since 2014, in addition to our regular prayers, but now with this situation, we have this special prayer, which speaks about the fear of invasion,” Father Tataryn said.

As tensions continue to rise, Jaworsky said he is praying for his friends in Ukraine to stay safe and hopes the conflict comes to an end soon.