Hundreds of people demonstrated on several thoroughfares in downtown Montreal on Saturday afternoon to demand an end to the war in Ukraine , as the civilian death toll from the Russian invasion continues to climb, plunging to the dismay of many Ukrainians living in the metropolis.
In the middle of the afternoon, rue Sainte-Catherine and boulevard René-Lévesque were colored yellow and blue as far as the eye could see as hundreds of people demonstrated, a Ukrainian flag in their hands, at the initiative of the Ukrainian Provincial Council Montreal/Quebec.
Among the crowd were many mothers wheeling an empty stroller in front of them to pay tribute to the many children who had died since the start of the war in Ukraine. According to the – cautious – assessment of the UN, at least 96 children have died since February 24 due to the Russian invasion. The Ukrainian government rather estimated the number at 136, as of Saturday.
“We want to oppose [Vladimir] Putin’s soldiers who kill civilians and children,” hammered Le Devoir Svitlana Natalska, who has lived in Montreal for 10 years. “My whole family is in Ukraine” in the port city of Odessa, she said when encountered among the crowd of protesters. “It’s not safe for them, but they want to stay in the country. It’s sad. Every night I wake up to call them and make sure they’re alive.
In the very front row of the crowd were young members of the Ukrainian community holding up a poster that read: “What if this was your child? »
“The Ukrainian people have the right to live”
In all, more than 1,100 civilians have died in Ukraine since the Russian invasion more than a month ago , according to conservative UN data. “My family is there, my mother and my brother, my sister’s husband too. They all stayed in Ukraine. And I pray every day and ask for an end to this war,” sighed Ksenia Medynikova, a protester who has several relatives still stuck in towns on the outskirts of kyiv.
“The Ukrainian people have the right to live,” the demonstrators chanted repeatedly, while urging NATO to “close the skies” by imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. This request, repeated many times in recent weeks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on all platforms, in Canada as elsewhere , has so far remained a dead letter.
After marching through the streets of downtown, the demonstrators gathered at Place du Canada shortly before 4 p.m. All the strollers were then gathered in the heart of the place, while Ukrainian music began to resonate in loudspeakers.
“Today, while we are in Canada, we are sending a message of solidarity across the Atlantic. And while we are here, we send our hearts to Ukraine. Because in Ukraine, there are no songs today,” declared to the crowd the president of the Quebec Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Michael Shwec.
The demonstrators then took a moment of silence to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of war in Ukraine, while the sound of sirens resounded at high volume, announcing the threat of an imminent bombardment daily in several Ukrainian cities.
The discontent against Russian President Vladimir Putin was clearly visible in the crowd, while several demonstrators held up posters demonizing the autocratic leader. “What is the devil’s name?” asked the president of the Saint-Volodymyr Cultural Association of Montreal, Gregory Bedik, in front of the crowd. ” Putin ! shouted the demonstrators, a tone of defiance in their voices.
Michael Shwec also expects members of the Ukrainian community to continue to demonstrate regularly in the streets of Montreal and elsewhere in the world until this war ends. “The whole world today is part of the Ukrainian nation,” he said. We will win. »
Reception of refugees
Demonstrators of all ages also gathered around 2 p.m. near La Fontaine Park as part of a separate event against the war in Ukraine as well as the seven-year-old war in Yemen. They then started a march further south on rue Ontario, where they notably crossed rue Saint-Denis before continuing further west.
These demonstrators urge Canada, among other things, to facilitate the arrival of refugees from Ukraine and Yemen in the country. Some also oppose Ottawa sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, saying instead they want to see Canada take part in efforts to broker peace in the region and provide more humanitarian aid to the country.
“Let’s stop the war in Ukraine, let’s stop the war in Yemen”, chanted several people mobilized on Saturday.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.