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Ukrainians in Ottawa react to Zelensky address with mixture of pride and heartbreak

Thousands of Ukrainians across Canada watched as President Volodymyr Zelensky made his speech and plea to the House of Commons.

At the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, dozens watched with pride, including church member Natalka Foty Mason.

“Help Ukrainians, help them,” says Foty Mason. “That’s all he’s asking for, and he keeps asking for that. And yes, there is some help that’s being sent, but Ukraine is being sacrificed.”

“Oh it was so impressive,” says Gabriela Gref-Innes. “He was so good. And so good to see the connection we have from here. And it’s so nice to see Zelensky talk to us. He spoke to everybody, all Canadians. And we all feel it.”

“It’s emotional for me, because I understand what he’s asking for,” says member Sofia Sawka. “And we don’t what other means we have to help, except do what we’re doing.”

What they’re doing is making hundreds of perogies, which they do every Tuesday, with all the proceeds going towards helping Ukraine.

“Everybody is more than blown away with president Zelensky,” says Angie Reshitnyk. “I think that he’s being a hero. Standing up for what he believes in. This is his country.”

Cassian Soltykevych, the national secretary of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, watched the speech from inside a packed House of Commons.

Cassian Soltykevych, the national secretary of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, was in the House of Commons Tuesday, March 15, for President Volodymyr Zelensky's address to Parliament. (Photo courtesy of Cassian Soltykevych)

“It was incredibly quiet. Everyone was sitting on needles during his address,” says Soltykevych. “I think it was the comment just about the CN Tower. You know, trying to think about and visualize fighter jets and rockets flying over your city is just something that we can’t even begin to imagine.”

Chuch member Kristine Broadhead not only helps with the perogies, she makes tiny blue and yellow flags that people can wear.

“I though it was a nice and passionate speech,” says Broadhead. “I very much admire this man; I think he’s an amazing leader. And I understand his frustration that I think we’re seeing in the speech that people are saying they’re behind you and we’re standing with you, but they’re not getting what they need. And we’re all heartbroken about that.”

Zelensky is scheduled to speak to the United States Congress on Wednesday. Top Stories

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