Watch the video above: Local Ukrainian Canadians react to referendum results
SASKATOON – Many local Ukrainian Canadians spent Sunday hooked to social media sites, dreading the outcome of the Crimea referendum.
In the end, over 95 per cent of voters approved splitting off and joining Russia.
Saskatoon’s Ivanka Siolkowsky has family in Ukraine and couldn’t take her eyes off of Facebook. She says she had a foreboding sense of dread on Sunday in the pit of her stomach.
“Fear, I think, is my biggest reaction. This is the 21st century, and I didn’t think this sort of behaviour happened today. I thought this was what we read in history books,” she explained.
Crimea is an autonomous republic that’s currently part of Ukraine. It is home to a large ethnic Russian population.
Russia has now effectively taken control over Crimea. This week, Russia vetoed a UN resolution declaring Sunday’s referendum on the future of Crimea illegal.
“I have a friend of mine back in Edmonton who’s from Crimea, and she still has family there,” said Andrea Kopylech, with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ Saskatoon branch.
“She would be extremely concerned for her family there, with everything that’s going on,” she said.
Kopylech said her friend was very proud to be part of Ukraine.
“She spoke Ukrainian, her children went to a Ukrainian bilingual school. She was very proud to be part of Ukraine,” Kopylech explained.
Many Ukrainian-Canadians say they worry this is only the beginning of Russia’s takeover efforts.
“What people need to understand is that this does not only affect Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian heritage,” said Siolkowsky.
“This is going to affect everyone.”