Statement from the Governor General on the Visit to Canada by His Excellency Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, and First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska

September 22, 2023

Ottawa ONTARIO—Our days are filled with moments we often take for granted. And sometimes, in the midst of everything, we are part of historic moments. Moments that offer us pause. Today was one of those historic moments, as Canada welcomed the President of Ukraine. For the last 18 months, the world has been witness to true courage as the Ukrainian people fight for their country and for the right to determine what happens to their country. From our homes in Canada, it can be difficult to comprehend all that they have lost. As Canadians consider the enormity of what Ukrainians are facing, we can’t escape the fact that this is a country fighting desperately for the right to have ordinary moments. They want to send their children to school safely, have coffee with a friend or celebrate a birthday in the park. 

I am concerned that we may all be getting desensitized to the tragedies in this world, especially at a time when Ukraine needs our support more than ever. Having met with Canadians across the country, I know that we value our role as a caring nation in a world that seems to care less and less. So how do we continue caring?

By opening the doors of Rideau Hall to President Zelenskyy and Mrs. Zelenska, by listening to President Zelenskyy’s words of hope fill the House of Commons, by offering support – whether it be through humanitarian and military assistance, or individual donations of time and money – we are telling the world Canada will not forget what is happening. To hear the President use the Inuktitut word ajuinnata in the House of Commons—which means to never give up against all odds—and use it to bring hope to his people, is a moment I will never forget. Sharing a handshake, a conversation, a visit, a hug, a word—the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in diplomacy. Today, we showed the world that Canada cares. We will stand side by side with Ukrainians until, as President Zelenskyy implored, these aggressions end with Ukrainian victory. Let’s hope today’s historic moments help provide the support the Ukrainians so desperately deserve, so that they can get back to enjoying the ordinary moments. 

Mary Simon

Media information:
Rideau Hall Press Office

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