It was a unique moment on Wednesday for 10 Canadian universities, including Royal.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke remotely to students and scientists from his war-torn country.
Speaking through an interpreter, President Zelensky addressed university students and scholars from both the Far East, from the University of Prince Edward Island, and western universities in Olx Praca and Alberta.
Katrina Korotkiy, co-chair of the Ukrainian Student Association at Queen’s University, says she has no words to describe the fact that the Ukrainian president took the time to talk to students and answer their questions.
“We know we’re doing our part, and we know we’re doing our best, and the fact that he has time to talk to us is just very, very touching,” Short said.
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In his speech, the Ukrainian president continued his political offensive to maintain and strengthen global support for his country, which was invaded by Vladimir Putin’s Russia last February.
Zelenskiy highlighted the common values of Canada and Ukraine, such as democracy and how education changed during the war.
“Teachers from our universities sometimes teach from the trenches, from the front line,” Zelensky said.
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These statements offended an audience of university students.
“Honestly, very inspiring,” said Short. “I had no idea teachers were doing this on the front lines and it’s great that they can do it.”
A University of Alberta student asked Zelensky what they should be asking Canadian political leaders to best support the Ukrainian people.
Zelenskiy’s response was familiar and coherent.
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“We need weapons, we need financial support, we need humanitarian support, and we need constant sanctions pressure 24/7,” Zelensky said.
Short, while working for a Ukrainian student association, has organized rallies and says they work with Help Us Help, a charity that collects medical supplies for civilians in Ukraine.
And Korotkiy says that additional initiatives are being worked out.
“What we’re really missing is feminine hygiene products, so I think one fundraiser that’s going to set us apart from other universities is that we’re likely to be fundraising for products like this,” she said.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is almost four months old.
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