Thunder Bay residents of Ukrainian descent are anxiously watching events unfold in Ukraine, as the country is gripped by protests and occupations of government buildings.
Thunder Bay’s branch president of the League of Ukrainian Canadians said Ukrainians in the city are hoping the political system in their homeland will change for the better.
“This is a real turning point and the hope here in Thunder Bay is being shown by all Ukrainians both young and old,” Walter Warywoda said.
"There's a lot of pent-up frustration and hope at the same time that this is the turning point for Ukraine. There's a desire for real change — one that didn't occur two decades ago."
He said he's surprised by the interest young people in Thunder Bay are taking in the current situation.
The association is working to educate people about the political issues in Ukraine.
In back-to-back moves aimed at defusing Ukraine's political crisis, the prime minister resigned Tuesday and parliament repealed anti-protest laws that had set off violent clashes between protesters and police.
The two developments were significant concessions to the anti-government protesters who have fought sporadically with police for the last 10 days after two months of peaceful around-the-clock demonstrations. The protests erupted after President Viktor Yanukovych decided to turn toward Russia for a bailout loan instead of signing a deal with the European Union, but have since morphed into a general plea for more human rights, less corruption and more democracy in this nation of 45 million.
"This is a kind of watch and wait [situation],” said Warywoda, whose parents hail from Western Ukraine and immigrated to Canada after the war.
“The response … across the country in the Ukrainian community has been fairly significant."