Edmonton area woman recounts mother’s harrowing escape from war-torn Ukraine

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WATCH ABOVE: More than a million people have already fled Ukraine since Russia began its invasion a week and a half ago. We hear from an Edmonton-area woman whose mother was able to escape the capital city of Kyiv and is on her way to Canada. Chris Chacon has more. – Mar 6, 2022

We first spoke with Olga Renneberg nearly two weeks ago, a Ukrainian woman living near Edmonton. At the time, her mother was stuck in Kyiv when war broke out.

‘I’m feeling lost, I’m feeling scared, I’m feeling helpless. I want to cry but can’t because if I cry, my mom will cry,” Renneberg said back on February 25th. “So we both need to stand strong.”

Fearing for her life, Liudmyla Volovyk was living in an underground bomb shelter, but she decided to escape the city amid ongoing Russian attacks and headed west toward Poland.

“She tried to spend most of her time [in the shelter], but definitely that’s pretty stressful. She reached her limit of being stressed to get to that point. She said she decided whatever it takes, I’m going out,” Renneberg said
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Read more: Edmontonians say family in Kyiv forced into bunkers as Russian air strikes rain down

“She was traveling at night time so she was exhausted. She hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours,” Renneberg said, as her mother made the journey out of Kyiv alone.

A departure Renneberg said would have been easier and safer if there was foreign military protection in the sky — a support she said is now desperately needed.

After days of waiting in lines surrounded by hordes of others trying to get out, Volovyk made it to the city of Lviv near the western border.

“They were coming with their families to the border, saying goodbye. My mom was alone. It was easier for her, but I can’t imagine what it cost for those people who are leaving their families and don’t know what’s going on with them after they cross that border,” Renneberg said.

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

Volovyk is now in Poland and has a flight booked to Edmonton this coming week for a long-awaited reunion.

“Its a big relief for now. I know she is safe,” Renneberg said.

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Renneberg said her mom is fortunate to still have an open visa allowing her into Canada, but there are many Ukrainians who don’t have legal permission.

Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine said Sunday the federal government is working on a plan that will be sorted out soon.

“What’s important is that Ukrainians will have options and they’ll have speed and they’ll be able to come to Canada if they want,”  Canada’s ambassador to Ukraine Larisa Galadza said.

An option Renneberg said can’t come soon enough.

“There’s lots of families who are still waiting for a reunion, and there are some families who will never have this chance.”

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