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'Take one suitcase and go': Moncton Ukrainians reflect on 2 years of war

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Two years of war with Russia has left much of Ukraine in ruins and thousands of people dead.

Saturday marks the second anniversary of the Russian invasion, a terrible tragedy for all Ukrainians.

Anna Trukhanska and her family escaped the violence by leaving Kyiv for Moncton a little over a year ago.

She's grateful for all the help and support Canadians have given her, but she said leaving home was a difficult decision.

"Because your friends are there, your apartment is there. Some have a house, business, work. It's hard to leave to everything, take one suitcase and go," said Trukhanska.

Trukhanska now works in a daycare in Riverview, N.B., and said while her six-year-old son is doing well in school, the transition hasn't been easy for the whole family.

She's one of roughly 1,500 Ukrainians who have come to the Greater Moncton area since March 2022, according to the Ukrainian Club of Moncton.

Close to 3,000 have come to New Brunswick since fighting broke out. The fighting doesn't appear to be ending soon.

Thinking about the anniversary deeply saddens Trukhanska.

"I'm very emotional at this time because I don't see how it will be the end. I'm pretty sure every war has an end," said Trukhanska. "Some people in Ukraine say, 'This year will be the end. This summer, this spring,' but it's been almost two years."

Eugene Perkov left Ukraine just before the war, but he has several brothers and cousins serving in the army.

"They try to keep it positive. They fight," said Perkov.

When asked if he keeps in contact with his family in Ukraine, he said occasionally, "but we prefer to not speak about war."

As far as life in Canada, Perkov called it "awesome" and is happy his young family is safe.

Ukrainian Club of Moncton president Nataliia Haidash said she has a mixture of emotions about the second anniversary of the war.

"Of course there is a sadness, there is grief for every person who is lost in this brutal war. For all the civilians who have lost their lives. For all the people who went to defend our land and died doing so," said Haidash.

Haidash, whose hometown in Ukraine is currently occupied by the Russians, believes there is a spark of hope her country will win the war no matter the odds.

For now, she will continue to help organize fundraising events around the city to help purchase medical supplies and other items for front line troops in Ukraine.

"We can not stop. I don't think we have a moral right to stop because we are here in safety because of this privilege of doing whatever we want and I think it also gives us a sense of community and it helps us to process all the terrible things that are going on there," said Haidash.

A rally marking the third year of war with Russia will be held at Moncton City Hall on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The club's Bid4Ukraine online auction wraps up at 12 a.m. Saturday.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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