The support in Montreal has remained rock solid since Russia aggressively invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The frigid temperatures did not keep the possibly as many as 1000 individuals from attending the rally in Montreal on Feb. 25. Organized by Ukrainian Canadian Congress, hereafter UCC, together with its provincial councils and community leaders, the pan-Canadian event made the news throughout the country.

The gathering point for the event was at Dorchester Square, in Montreal’s downtown core. The first arrivals appeared shortly before 18:00 the recommended gathering time. The square filled with people, from the first arrivals, to those who arrived closer to the 19:00 planned departure time. Many had flags draped over their shoulders, or were adorned in various attire from football club scarves, or simple blue and yellow ribbons pinned to the attire, while others held candles. 


The supports of this event would make their way from their gathering point along one of Montreal’s main streets Ste-Catherine Street W towards Phillips Square, nearly 800 metres distant. 

This estimate of the number of participants—using different factors. The Jacobs’ method of crowd size estimation, the breadth, and length of procession to Phillips Square, to determine crowd density, as well a knowledge of the size of both squares. Additionally, checking both photographs and video footage to determine crowd density.

Solidarity Among Oppressed Peoples 

Not the first time that members of other communities participated, in particular the small Latvian and Lithuanian communities here in Montreal. These communities, supportive of Ukraine since long before independence over three decades ago, both here locally and in Europe. Their common experiences of Soviet oppression has created a common understanding of Russia as an empire, and now under the leadership of Vladimir Putin.

Arunas Staškevicius, Honorary Consul General of Lithuania in Montreal stood with other members of his community. “Lithuania’s been supporting Ukraine since the very beginning of Putin’s attack on the Ukrainian people. Support has been military, humanitarian, financial, diplomatic, and political,” stated Staškevicius. He quickly added as his national flag was blow across his face, “Lithuanian people of raised millions of Euros through crowdfunding campaigns to by drones and Bayraktar from Turkey. Currently they are working on raising 10 million Euros to by radar for the Ukrainian people; and I think the support is going to continue until that genocidal megalomaniac is beaten on the battle field. Ukraine regains its territory. War criminals are brought to justice and war reparations are paid,” he concluded as the crowd continued to grow in size.


Showing up later at Dorchester Square, Montreal to avoid minus 17 degrees Celsius temperatures.


When asked how many events have been held in Montreal in the last year, Vitalia Khmil a local student leader in the Ukrainian community studying jazz at Concordia University, “It is really hard to tell just how many events have taken place. Just in the first three months of the war UCC held a rally every single weekend, which I attended. Though just those organized by the UCC may have numbered up to 25!”


Last time I met with Luc Chenier, the Kyiv Post’s CEO, in Montreal, we discussed the issue of war-weariness! So I took this opportunity to ask Khmil if this could impact on the level of support different events draw.

“It’s very hard information to process, all the news about the war, shown to us so explicitly on social media. I think people need to be aware of it. I think many Ukrainians began to rally up towards this day now,” was her initial response and continued. “I remember meeting up with friends in January and us organizing three events and we knew that a year was approaching! So I do agree that there is this tiredness that is happening in society in general, and for us as well, because it is very difficult information for us to process mentally! It’s exhausting!”

That exhaustion probably exists for many reasons, I recalled witnessing many more people from outside the Ukrainian community supporting in the early months. So, I asked her what she thought about this. “I think that in the beginning there were a whole lot of other people, because it was such a new thing. I think that they still do stand with us. People [outside of the Ukrainian community] don’t always know what they can do to help us. Thus it’s up to us to provide resources about ways they can help us. With so many different causes, if we have friends we should speak to them about why it is important to us. Not just about the negative things, but the positive and about our culture, and how incredibly rich our culture is,” she concluded.


Loud and Proud

As the throngs of those who decided to #StandWithUkraine in Montreal in this nation-wide event entitled 365 Days of Resistance, their voices echoed off the walls of the surrounding buildings. Their chants and songs started at Dorchester Square as they patiently waited for the procession to their next stop at Phillips Square.

There was never a lull, in what at times seemed like rolling thunder, created by the urban canyon of Ste-Catherine St W. As they chanted Slava Ukrayini! [Glory to Ukraine], a historical Ukrainian army chant, receiving a response Heroyam Slava! [Glory to heroes!]. Also heard was the chant Ukrayina! [Ukraine!], with a patriotic response: Ponad use! [Above all!]


As participants rounded the corner to enter Phillips Square the were all singing Oy u luzi chervona kalyna [Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow]. [See the author’s article published in the Kyiv Post on April 24, about the history of this rousing song.]

Numbers on Phillips Square in Montreal, despite the cold temperatures (weather)!

Thank-you All Around

The UCC organizers made certain not to leave out any politicians of the three different jurisdictional levels of government: federal,  municipal and provincial. As all three have been extremely supportive in many different ways. From immigration to both Canada and Quebec, and in the areas of assisting newcomers to find accommodation and helping them integrate into their new homes here in Montreal.


Federal government’s representative Rachel Bendayan who sits on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in Canada’s parliament confirmed the Prime Minister’s announcement that four additional Leopards would be sent to Ukraine. The reaction was extremely positive, though then revealed. The Leopards, are “in addition to one billion in military aid, and military aid alone.” To this statement the response was even greater.

The government officials at all levels made statements. Provincial politicians  happily announced, how a motion passed unanimously in the Quebec legislature. Legislative member, Vincent Marissal, called for “the inalienable right of the Ukrainian people to their territorial integrity, hailed their heroic resistance and denounced Russia's armed aggression.”


Municipal representatives welcomed the newcomers present at the rally, wanted for them to feel good about arriving in their new “hometown” of Montreal, and as an act of solidarity with Ukraine and its people, raised Ukraine’s flag at city hall.

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