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Thunder Bay woman worries about family in Ukraine

Thousands of Thunder Bay residents with roots in Ukraine continue to watch the conflict between rebels and the Ukrainian government with a lot of concern.

Olena Palagytska recently returned from 2 month trip to visit family in eastern Ukraine

A resident of Ukraine sits near an entrance with "Bomb Shelter" written on the side, as she waits for shelling to start. Many Thunder Bay residents are concerned about the tragic events unfolding in that country. (Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press)

Thousands of Thunder Bay residents with roots in Ukraine continue to watch the conflict between rebels and the Ukrainian government with a lot of concern.

But for one Thunder Bay woman, the fighting hits especially close to home.

When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine last month, Olena Palagytska was just returning to Thunder Bay from a two-month visit there.

"I ... feel very bad because it happened in sky of my country,” she said.

Palagytska was visiting her mother and sister in the Kharkiv region, not far from the conflict zone.  

 "Every day, they [were] watching news on TV and … everybody [has a] ... very, very stressful life. People don't know what [will] happen tomorrow."

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Palagytska said she continues to worry about her family, and her country.

She finds support from friends at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Thunder Bay.  

"We always pray for Ukraine. We think about this every day. Everybody wants peace."

Palagytska said she never could have imagined the conflict that's happening right now — and she's never been this worried about her homeland.

"It's still [a] very, very hard situation. Many people, many Ukrainian soldiers [are being] killed."

The president of the Thunder Bay branch of the League of Ukrainian Canadians said that most Ukrainians in the city are from western or central Ukraine and don't have relatives in eastern Ukraine like Palgytska does.

Nevertheless, people are watching the conflict with concern.

"This is really a watershed moment for Ukraine, where they have the opportunity to bring true democracy to Ukraine,” Walter Warywoda said.

"Here in Thunder Bay, people are following the events with a great deal of interest to see what is occurring, because it's changing on an almost daily basis."

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