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Ukrainian man living and working in Alberta cancels return ticket to Canada to defend his country

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WATCH ABOVE: As the war rages on in Ukraine, we bring you the story of a man who's been working in Alberta but chose to extend a visit home to fight for his country. Chris Chacon spoke with him about why he gave up his plane ticket back to the prairies, choosing instead to defend his homeland – Mar 5, 2022

As the war rages on in Ukraine, a man who’s been working in Alberta is sharing why he gave up his return ticket to the prairies to defend his home country.

“This is half a million people city, right behind me, and there is silence,” Borys Novoseltsev said.

Standing outside his apartment Saturday evening, Novoseltsev said his hometown of Mykolayiv in southeastern Ukraine isn’t typically this quiet.

But a recent barrage of Russian air strikes has changed that.

“They started heavily bombing and fighting with our army here,” Novoseltsev said.

Read more: Ukrainians in Edmonton gather at local churches, praying for peace as Russian invasion takes its toll

Before war broke out Novoseltsev was visiting family in Ukraine and was planning to fly back to Wainwright, Alta in just a few weeks, where he has been living and working for several years.

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But his plans changed quickly.

“I decided not to leave. I had a chance, but I made my own choice to stay. I sent my wife away so I won’t be distracted,” Novoseltsev said

Canceling his flight, he instead joined a local militia as a guard.

‘We just walk around the neighbourhood and we let people know that we are here — somebody is here, somebody is doing something — and it’s calming people down and they feel they are protected,” Novoseltsev said.

While the sirens warn of attacks throughout the country, Novoseltsev is just one of many Ukrainians choosing to stay, including Kyiv resident Olga Pariieva.

“I feel a responsibility for defending the country in the way I can,” Pariieva said.

While she’s not on the front lines fighting, she is helping in other ways.

Read more: Edmontonians say family in Kyiv forced into bunkers as Russian air strikes rain down

“I’m volunteering, I’m helping those in need, I’m aiding hospitals if it’s possible. I’m helping those who have left their apartments, even their pets,” Olga Pariieva said.

While both acknowledge the dangers of their situation, they willingly continue without a clear end in sight.

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“It’s the least I can do for my country,” Novoseltsev said

“This is the only thing that I have,” Pariieva said.

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