Iryna was among the millions of Canadians who watched in shock and disbelief as Russia began its invasion on Ukraine last week.

The only difference is Iryna’s entire family and friends still lives back home in Ukraine, with the Surrey resident immigrating to Canada more than a decade ago.

“My heart and soul is back home right now,” said Iryna. “The good news is our President isn’t giving up on us, the whole world is standing behind us and supporting us and praying for us. It’s just been tremendous support from my friends here in Canada.”

The Surrey mom was born in Central Ukraine. Her parents still live in the country’s capital of Kyiv, with a ton of friends and family also living in the eastern European country.

Iryna says right now the best way for British Columbians to support the cause is to donate to the Red Cross and most importantly, not give in to Russian propaganda.

“The biggest lie is that Russian speaking population has been oppressed in Ukraine,” said Iryna. “Not only is it not true, it has no substance to it. Our President speaks Russian at home, he’s admitted it for a fact. Nobody ever judges people for using certain languages, it’s a democratic free country.”

Iryna says her parents have resorted to sleeping in their clothes so they’re ready to run down to their apartment’s bomb shelter at a moment’s notice. They’ve already had to do it three times, with a few of her friend’s also living in underground Subway stations to try and keep safe.

The biggest thing is not giving up hope.

“When I first heard about the invasion I couldn’t speak to anyone without crying. Right now though, I feel support, that the truth is on our side. There is  no other way than winning and protecting our country.”

Listen to Pulse FM’s Vanessa Ybarra’s full interview with Iryna: