Ukrainian Canadians unite as war with Russia continues
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Zytynksy’s Deli in Montreal’s Rosemont neighborhood has been the anchor of the city’s Ukrainian community for a century.
For three generations, the Zytynsky family has handcrafted Ukrainian delicacies like pierogies and kielbasa sausages and provides the city with a slice of the old country.
Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has hit the Ukrainian community in Canada hard.
“Tensioned, full of anxiety and very sad,” said Angel Zytynsky, the current owner of the famous grocery store that bears his surname. “It’s been crazy.”
Ms. Zytynsky, whose grandfather founded the charcuterie in the 1920s, was supported by a supportive clientele who went the extra mile to come to the charcuterie.
“All nationalities come into the store: French, English, Romanian, Greek, Italian, they are all worried and worried about me and our family and Ukraine,” she said. The National on the phone, voice shaking.
Canada is home to almost 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent – the largest Ukrainian population outside of Ukraine and Russia.
The community has deep roots in Canada, with the first wave of immigration occurring around the turn of the 20th century when people were fleeing oppression under the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Many settled on the Canadian prairies, where they worked on farms.
Another big wave came after World War II.
Today, Ukrainian communities dot the country and form one of the largest ethnic groups in Canada.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, is of Ukrainian descent and speaks the language fluently.
Canada was the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence in 1991, which is a source of great pride. But many in the community now feel that Canada has not done enough to deter Russia from invading and are disappointed that Canada has not taken the lead in diplomatic efforts.
“I feel like Canada was waiting for its allies to lead the charge on this, which is disappointing,” said Yuri Broda, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Association.
Mr Broda, whose family arrived after World War II, said he would like to see his government be more “proactive” in supporting Ukraine.
In recent days, like much of Europe and the United States, Canada has imposed a barrage of sanctions on Russia, calling for the country’s expulsion from Swift’s international banking system – a blow to those receiving payments through international transactions. On Sunday, Canada closed its airspace to Russia, a decision that mirrors many European countries.
Marc Shwec, chair of the Stands with Ukraine committee at the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress in Toronto, said Canada was taking the necessary steps to help.
He was particularly pleased with Canada’s military aid, he said. The government announced on Sunday that it would send a third lethal aid shipment to Ukraine.
“Canada has been pretty good,” he said The National. “I mean, we’re not a superpower, but Canada has been good enough to help Ukraine.
Shwec worries that with Russia slowly gaining control of important arteries in the country, it will become more difficult for Western countries to provide military assistance.
Back at Zytynsky’s Deli, Ms Zytynsky said she was inundated with requests for Ukrainian flags, a gesture she said meant a lot to her.
“I guess they want to wrap around the flag to feel comfortable,” she said.
Updated: March 01, 2022, 05:10