Zelenskyy appeared to wipe a tear away as he was met with a minute-long standing ovation before Trudeau gave his welcome speech emphasizing the “pivotal” moment facing the world, and pledging $650 million in new funding to support Ukraine over three years.
In his speech, Zelenskyy focused on the necessity to “never submit to evil” and began by talking about the construction of the world’s first Holodmor monument in Edmonton in 1983.
“At that time, Ukraine didn’t yet have memorials commemorating the victims of genocide of Ukrainians because Ukraine was under Moscow’s control,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy said that in the past 40 years, a lot has changed. Ukraine gained independence and dozens of countries recognized the systemic starvation of Ukrainians by Russia as a genocide.
“It is genocide, what Russian occupiers are doing to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said.
“It is not just about an ordinary conflict. It is about saving lives of millions of people.”
Zelenskyy thanked Canada for the ongoing military and humanitarian support, saying it has helped save thousands of lives. The president also thanked Canada for support in Ukraine’s NATO membership bid and the ongoing training of Ukrainian soldiers.
So far, Canada has contributed over $8 billion to Ukraine’s war effort — a number that is set to continue to grow, Trudeau vowed on Friday.
“It is not just about choosing the right side, it is about being a leader on the right side and you always do that. Canada, thank you,” Zelenskyy said.
Over 175,000 Ukrainians have fled to Canada since the start of the war, some of whom were in the galleries watching the speech.
With this long history of support, Zelenskyy said the destiny of Ukraine is the shared destiny of Canada.
“And most of all, I would like to thank you, Canada for their purely human thing, for making Ukrainians feel at home when they are here in Canada. Thank you,” he said.
Zelenskyy began to conclude his speech saying the two nations must stand united against evil, and that he hopes one day there will be a monument built in Edmonton to commemorate Ukraine and Canada’s common victory.
“We stand and we fight for life. Ukraine, not genocide. It will be victorious in this war. People will be the winners, not the Kremlin. Freedom will be the winner justice will be the winner,” Zelenskyy said.
This is the Ukrainian president’s second address to Parliament since Russia began it’s full scale invasion in February 2022. The first took place virtually in March, 2022.
Trudeau in his speech said Canada’s additional funding will include $650 million over the next three years for 50 armoured vehicles, including medical evacuation vehicles that Trudeau says will be built in London, Ont.
The prime minister added that Canada will also send F-16 trainers for both pilots and maintenance, plus funding for mental health services for those impacted by the war.
It is not clear whether he meant CF-18 trainers, as Canada does not fly F-16s, or if Canada would pay to contract F-16 trainers.
“Peace must respect the UN Charter, be based in international law, and preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity,” Trudeau said.
“This is peace we must fight for and is what Ukraine has done for one year, six months and 29 days.”
Trudeau added that Russia President Vladimir Putin thought his forces would make quick work of Ukraine, and Zelenskyy would buckle. That was not the case.
“You galvanized the world. You have made the bonds between democratic allies and friends stronger than ever,” Trudeau told Zelenskyy from the lectern.
“When the history books are written, we know what they will say of you: that you were among those who stood up for their principles no matter how hard… among those who put justice, hope and freedom above all else.”
Trudeau concluded his speech by telling Zelenskyy that Canada will stand with Ukraine against Putin as long as it takes.
In addition to military assistance, Trudeau pledged further aide to Ukraine with a focus on mental health supports. This includes $34 million over four years, and the funds will also go toward restoring agricultural livelihoods and rehabilitating local infrastructure.
Canada also announced they are sanctioning 63 additional individuals and organizations that are connected to the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children and the production and spreading of disinformation and propaganda.
Finally, Canada and Ukraine will collaborate on forming a working group of international partners to work toward developing mechanisms to facilitate the seizure and forfeiture of Russian assets, including from the Russian central bank to contribute to the rebuilding of Ukraine.
Trudeau said it’s estimated that the Russian Central Bank has $200 to $300 billion in assets kept in the United States and Europe.
A crowd of around 100 people had waited outside Parliament on Friday morning, waiting to see Zelenskyy’s motorcade arrive prior to his historic address.
“I know it will be a very impassioned speech and he will make the case for why Canadians and the government need to keep supporting Ukraine in any way they can,” said Karen Wigston, an Ottawa resident who routinely protests the war outside the Russian Embassy.
Marii Nepop moved to Canada from Ukraine four years ago, but said much of her family still lives in Ukraine. She felt it was important to come to Parliament on Friday morning to show support for continued aide to Ukraine.
“Because with this help, with unity between the countries who understand what’s really happening in Ukraine is the only way that this war can end,” she said.
For her family back in Ukraine, Nepop says they are trying to go about their normal lives as best they can but 19 months of full-scale war is taking its toll.
“It’s still very stressful because especially now, these last two days, for example, Ukraine has been bombed again, it’s like 40 rockets. They have the drones all the time,” Nepop said.
“So the stress is building up. So they’re strong, but it definitely needs to turn soon because this trauma is only getting deeper with each day.”
After his arrival at Parliament on Friday, Zelenskyy and Trudeau met privately ahead of the president’s address. Prior to the meeting, Trudeau told reporters it was an extraordinary privilege to welcome Zelenskyy back to Ottawa.
Zelenskyy arrived in Ottawa late Thursday from the United Nations General Assembly in New York – an instantly recognizable wartime leader in his signature olive green, focused on his country’s survival.
“He’s become a hero to a great many people, certainly to me,” Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador the UN, told reporters Thursday in New York.
“He’s a man of great dedication and great personal courage.”
Since the invasion, more than 9,000 civilians have been reported killed, including more than 500 children – though the UN agency that is tracking casualties warns the actual figures are likely much higher.
With files from The Canadian Press