On Feb. 21, 2024 the World Ukrainian Congress made an official announcement that over 400 cities would be joining in the Stand With Ukraine global rally. Montreal was just one of those cities and it did not disappoint, considering that temperatures were in the double-digit below zero range. This did not deter both members of Montreal’s Ukrainian community and those who support Ukraine, be they commoner, community activist or politician in making their presence felt.

The organization of such global support requires the coordination of many individuals. A few days earlier, on one the “Ukrainians in Montreal” Facebook group pages, a table was posted showing 12 different community organizations which indicated who the “Corner Captains” were. These individuals are leaders within their own community organizations and would be easily recognizable to members of those different organizations. They were strategically placed at 12 different intersections along Montreal’s main thoroughfare, Ste-Catherine’s Street West. The precession started at the corner of Guy Street and Ste-Catherine’s West, would make its way to Phillips Square, gathering the members of the community organizations. The volume of souls grew as they made their way to what has become a habitual gathering point for such rallies by the Ukrainian community in Montreal.

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Two years in, war-weariness?

Before the first anniversary rally in Montreal, a question was put to this author by Kyiv Post’s CEO Luc Chenier: Would “war weariness” effect the individual resolve of the community and people in general? Two years into this full-fledged attack by Russia on Ukraine makes this question even more relevant today.

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A year ago Kyiv Post readers learnt how Lithuanians helped Ukraine by supplying aid in many ways. Kyiv Post once again spoke to Arunas Staškevicius, Honorary Consul General of Lithuania in Montreal, more specifically on the concept of war-weariness, and his response was quite succinct: “I think that the attention span of the general-public is very short. Two years is a very long time to keep people involved, to expect their support. Even Ukrainians are getting exhausted by this conflict. So it’s all important to remind people just how important this struggle is, because if Ukraine falls, there will be very dark days ahead. The awareness is there, the commitment, the fire that was there during the first months of the war, the danger is that might dissipate.”

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Earlier, addressing the crowd, Staškevicius commended participants about their resolve to participating, regardless of the climatic situation and reminded all those gathered on Phillips Square that it was a great deal colder for the soldiers in the trenches of the Donbas.

Many expressed their feelings about the duration of this conflict. Mr. Geert Vansintjan, Consul General of Belgium in his address to the crowd of close to 1,400 individuals, based on police estimates, stated: “Our government has asked our Diplomatic Corps throughout the world to be present in each city and in the streets with you all. Because in Belgium we condemn the invasion, and we reconfirm our support for the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine in line with international laws. Two years is much too long, though we are here with you, and we will remain with you.”

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Wrap-up

While the Ukrainian World Congress had announced that they were expecting over 400 cities, on Feb. 25 they announced that over 1,000 events had taken place in over 69 countries of the world. This came as no surprise to this author, for two hours before I departed to attend the Montreal rally I received a photo from a friend I’d met in Kyiv well over two decades ago. She and her husband make their home in Stockport, northeast England. That photo was of a group of close to 80 individuals who were “Standing With Ukraine”.

As the events on Phillips Square in Montreal wound down, I asked Dr. Eugene Czolij, Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Montreal what he thought of the turn-out on such a bitterly cold day. “I think it is a very nice turn out and it indicated that Ukrainians still care, and we had a lot of our friends, non-Ukrainians, that joined this demonstration,” he said. “We had members from the political sphere, from the diplomatic corps, and generally non-Ukrainians who have joined for this important demonstration in order to show our support to Ukraine and to call on the international community to give affective and timely support to Ukraine in order to ensure a speedy Ukrainian victory, which is the only guarantee for security, stability, and peace in the world.”

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Two years is a long time and not everyone is resilient. I personally had to stop attending rallies where the sound of air-raid sirens were being used, due to complex PTSD. The trauma that Ukrainians have suffered may become intergenerational, and while a victory of Ukraine is of utmost importance, Ukraine and Ukrainians will need other types of support in the near and distant future.

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Comments ( 1)

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John
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Take note allied leadership. Even with our leaders and media not giving this war its due attention and support, your electorate is rising to Ukraine's support. Your electorate are growingly crowd funding a critical and morally just cause that should be fully supported by the taxes we already pay.

Yet each day you dither on providing sufficient Ukraine military aid delay putting our nations on required production war footing. This inevitably costs us more. More risk to our own security, more precious lives lost, more national debt needlessly extending a war that could have been stopped in its tracks 2 years ago by a proper military response.

If you want to earn your salaries and future pensions stop failing your electorate. Do the job you were foremost hired for. Protect democracy. Protect it now in Ukraine. Do it now before the war spreads further and the thug putin regimes' might is increased by the assets it steals from our democracies.

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