Key moments from Zelenskyy’s speech to Parliament

In his second address to a joint session of Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Canada for its financial, political and military aid to his embattled country.

Here are five key moments from his speech on Friday.

WATCH: Edmonton ‘closely linked’ with Ukraine, Zelenskyy says 

Edmonton ‘closely linked’ with Ukraine, Zelenskyy says

During his address to Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Canada’s support for Ukraine dating back to 1983, when the first monument in the world to honour the victims of the Holodomor — the Soviet-engineered famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s — was unveiled in the city of Edmonton.

Edmonton’s link to Ukrainian history

“Before I start I just want to remind [you of] one thing,” Zelenskyy told parliamentarians. “This thing is very important to understand both Ukraine and Canada and what we are up to, what we need to do and to do together.”

He went on to cite the construction in Edmonton of the first monument in the world to the Holodomor, the Ukrainian famine.

A sculpture in a park
Edmonton’s Holodomor memorial was installed in 1983. (

“It was built to remember the genocide against the Ukrainian people, the genocide ordered and perpetrated by Moscow, the first ever Holodomor monument in the world,” he said. “At that time, Ukraine didn’t yet have memorials commemorating the victims of genocide of Ukrainians because Ukraine was under Moscow’s control back then.

“This fall will mark the 40th anniversary since that first, and very important, commemoration of the victims of Holodomor.”

Apartment buildings in Ukraine, destroyed by Russian missiles.
Over 12 weeks in early 2022, bombs severely damaged or demolished thousands of buildings in Mariupol. Ukrainian officials estimate that at least 25,000 people were killed. (Evgeny Sosnovsky)

‘Life and justice must prevail’

“It is not just about an ordinary conflict,” Zelenskyy said. “It is about saving lives of millions of people, literally physical salvation, ordinary women and men, children, our families, whole communities, entire cities.

“Russia’s destruction of Mariupol, of Volnovakha or Bakhmut or any other city or village in Ukraine, must not go unpunished.

“Life and justice must prevail everywhere in Ukraine and for all Ukrainians. This Russian aggression must end with our victory … so that Russia will never bring back genocide to Ukraine and will never, ever try to do so. Moscow must lose once and for all. And it will lose.”

WATCH: ‘Canada is on the right side of history’: Zelenskyy

‘Canada is on the bright side of history’: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Canada for its continued support as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues.

Thanking Canada for its leadership

“During the First World War,” he said, “and in the time between those terrible, terrible wars, and during the Second World War and during the Cold War, you always defended freedom, you have always defended justice.

“And I had no doubt that you would choose the side of freedom and justice when Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine. Thank you.

“But it is never enough only to choose the right side. You also need to be able to be a leader on the [right] side and you [are]. You are a leader and I thank you for that, Canada. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

“Thank you very much for your political support for Ukraine. This is truly the support of a leader and it is global in scale, because when you are fighting for something, when you are fighting for good in human nature, the false neutrality looks obviously immoral.

“When one sees true leaders, all others who are afraid to be real, to speak out, to fight, have only two [options] — to change or to be looked down [upon]. And I thank you, Canada, for being a real example of leadership and honesty for so many around the world, an example that inspires others to defend life.”

A woman holds a sign at a Montreal airport. The sign welcomes arrivals from Ukraine.
There are almost 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent in Canada and roughly 175,000 Ukrainians have come to Canada since the war started under a streamlined immigration program. (Hadi Hassin/Radio-Canada)

‘Ukraine and Canada are the same’

“Most of all,” said Zelenskyy, “I would like to thank you, Canada, for the purely human thing — for making Ukrainians feel at home when they are here in Canada. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

“This is not just a legacy of history. This is a legacy of character. The Ukrainian-Canadian community is about millions of Ukrainians’ destinies that have become the destiny of Canada, with all its diversity of communities.

“Can we give up? No. Can we betray the good in human nature? No. Can we agree to evil? No. Can we allow our identity to be erased? No.

“Ukraine and Canada are the same. We stand and we fight for life. Ukraine, not genocide, will be victorious in this war. People will be the winners, not the Kremlin.

“Freedom will be the winner, justice will be the winner. You can know this for sure about us because you know for sure about yourself that you would never submit to evil.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyyshakes hands with with Governor General Mary Simon.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)

‘Ajuinnata’ — don’t give up

“Today, me and my beautiful first lady had the honour of meeting with the Governor General, [the] Honourable Mary Simon, and she taught me a word from her mother tongue: ajuinnata,” he said.

“She said the meaning of this word is, ‘Don’t give up, don’t give up, stay strong against all odds.’ And so shall it be. Ajuinnata Canada. Ajuinnata Ukraine.

“Slava Ukraini.”

WATCH: ‘Don’t give up’: Zelenskyy describes his meeting with the Governor General

‘Don’t give up’: Zelenskyy describes his meeting with Governor General

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that during his meeting with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, she taught him an Inuktitut word – ajuinata – that means ‘Don’t give up,’

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