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Ukrainian president acknowledges Edmonton’s close ties to his embattled country in Ottawa speech

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reminded Canada and the world Friday about Edmonton’s close connection with his country.

Soon after taking the podium at Parliament Hill, Zelenskyy brought up the city, talking about its links to the destiny of Ukraine and the Ukrainian-Canadian community, mentioning a statue that’s stood outside Edmonton City Hall since 1983.

“Here, in Edmonton, the first monument to the victims of Holodomor was built in the world,” Zelenskyy said to applause in Ottawa.

Friday marked Zelenskyy's first official visit to Canada since Russian troops began a full-scale assault on Ukraine in February 2022. He first addressed Parliament via video just 20 days after rockets rained down on Kyiv.

At that time, he thanked Canada for its support so far, but pleaded for more.

This time, Zelenskyy said he came in person to thank Canada for what it has done in the 19 months since Russia escalated its 2014 invasion of Crimea into a full-scale war.

Orysia Boychuk, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ Alberta Provincial Council, says the attention paid to Edmonton’s Ukrainian connection by Zelenskyy “an extraordinary event, a historic moment for us.”

“I think this is huge,” Boychuk, who was among the crowd in the House of Commons, told CTV News Edmonton, calling the experience humbling and emotional. “This is amazing. He's paying attention. He knows who we are.”

While Boychuk didn’t have the opportunity to meet Zelenskyy, she plans to invite him to Edmonton, where both hope another monument will be built some day.

“He wants another monument there for victory day when Ukraine conquers and wins this Russian war against Ukraine,” she said. “Another monument there — I hope we can do that.”

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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