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HomeNewsHuntsville woman worried about Ukranian parents as war with Russia rages on

Huntsville woman worried about Ukranian parents as war with Russia rages on

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Daria Coulombe’s days start at 4 AM and end at midnight. In between, she’s constantly on the phone with her parents and friends who live in Ukraine.

She moved to Huntsville, nearly 8,000 kilometres away from her hometown of Kryvyi Rih, three-and-a-half years ago with her husband, her two step-children and her daughter. 

Coulombe says early Monday morning air raid sirens were going in her hometown. “Right now I don’t know what’s going on,” she adds. While balancing raising her children and going to work, she says she talks to friends and family almost every hour for updates. Ukraine’s time zone is seven hours ahead of eastern standard time.

The 34-year-old said her friends and family are doing what they can to stay safe while also keeping her in the loop. Coulombe says one of her friends sent her a video over the weekend of a house only three doors down being shot at by Russian troops. 

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“My mom is very worried, my pappa doesn’t show any of that,” she says. She adds that her parents are very proud and patriotic, so they have no plans on leaving, which worries her. Coulombe says her mom is diabetic. The pharmacy near their home has supplies now, but she wonders what the situation will be like in a month. “Will it be possible to get more supplies,” she wonders aloud. 

She knows that while her parents are doing their best to keep her informed, they aren’t telling her everything so they don’t worry her.

Coulombe shares that same struggle with her own children. She says figuring out if she should tell her every detail or leave out some parts is hard to figure out. “She’s a child,” she says. “She cannot take so much like an adult can.”

It’s a frustrating feeling, Coulombe says, but adds she does tell her daughter and stepsons what is happening. “I didn’t want my daughter to find out through the internet,” she says.

“I don’t sleep enough,” she explains. “I can’t fall asleep.”

In the coverage of what’s happening in Ukraine, many residents have taken to the streets to fight back. While those of us living in Muskoka aren’t able to help in that way, Coulombe says she appreciates the gestures she’s seeing from her neighbours and town councils. Huntsville council voted Monday to remove the Russian flag from its G8 Flag Park, while Gravenhurst agreed to raise the Ukrainian flag at the municipal office. The Bracebridge Falls is also being lit up every night in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. 

“My neighbours have put up small Ukrainian flags in their driveway,” she says. “It makes me feel like I’m not alone. It’s very supportive.”

The federal government, and other governments, have made moves to cut ties with Russia and isolate them from the rest of the world’s economy. “I see that Canada is trying as much as they can but in my opinion, they cannot be slow,” Coulombe says. “They cannot hesitate.  I know we have a bureaucratic problem because when someone says yes in the government after it’s slowly going from document to document, this person to this person.”

What’s being done now, Coulombe says “should have been done yesterday.”

Throughout all of this, she is glad she lives in Canada. “Canadians have big hearts,” she says, adding how appreciative she is of the support she and her country are getting. 

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