Montreal’s Ukrainian community marks 2nd anniversary of Russian invasion

"If you meet someone from Ukraine, lend a helping hand. Say I care. Don't be indifferent," says Montreal Ukrainian community activist Vasyl Pawlowsky. February 24 marks two years since the invasion of Ukraine. Anastasia Dextrene reports.

Hundreds of Montrealers walked in solidarity with Ukraine on Saturday.

Gathering at the corner of Guy Street and Saint-Catherine Street, the crowd marched toward Phillips Square, where members of the Ukrainian community honoured the lives lost. 

“People ask me and are very surprised when I respond that the situation today is just as bad as it was on February 24, 2022,” said Eugene Czolij, Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Montreal. “This genocidal war is not making the news on a daily basis as it should and people think that the situation has somewhat improved or people kind of got used to a genocidal war, which is awful.”

Ukraine solidarity march in Montreal Feb. 24, 2024, on second anniversary of Russian invasion. (Miguel Fowke-Quintas, CityNews)

Demonstrators were motivated to show their solidarity with Ukraine and to keep the ongoing conflict on Canadians’ minds. 

“I’ve lost friends. I continue to lose friends,” said Vasyl Pawlowsky, a Ukrainian community activist. “I’ve had friends who’ve lost their children. If you meet someone from Ukraine, lend a helping hand. Say I care. Don’t be indifferent.”

With Russian troops dug in on eastern Ukrainian territory, some believe the war is at a standstill.

Supporters of Ukraine hope the date of Feb. 24 will centre the discussion on how Canada can provide humanitarian and military aid. 

“We’re doing these demonstrations throughout the world in order to encourage the international community to give maximum support to Ukraine,” added Czolij.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) has organized 38 demonstrations across Canada to occur on the same date. Further, the UCC is affiliated with the Ukrainian World Congress, which has seen over 150 cities across the world register rallies in support of Ukraine. 

The UCC Call to Action lists its policy priorities as more Canadian military aid to Ukraine, the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Canada, and for Canada to seize frozen Russian assets and provide them to Ukraine. 

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