NP-UN National Affairs Desk.
Newly-elected President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appears to have been greatly impressed by the Ukrainian Canadian diaspora during his visit to Toronto, July 1-3, says community leaders who met with him.
“I believe that his wife, in seeing her reaction, was rather overwhelmed by, and I think he (himself) was very impressed by the calibre of the diaspora and not only the calibre of the diaspora but the sort of influence that the diaspora has with the Canadian government,” Andriy Hladyshevsky, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko told New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
“It was pretty clear to him – and he was all eyes and ears – that the government views the Ukrainian Canadian community as a player in the country… and government leaders and other parties know that the Ukrainian community has to be seriously engaged if they’re going to succeed in Canada. That was not lost on him at all and I think from that perspective that some of his comments, and sidebar comments a few of us that were able to speak to him briefly, was that he understood how much Ukrainians contributed to the country and how much the country depends on those Ukrainian Canadians in its day to day affairs. I think for him, coming to Canada was a good place to start because obviously, in other countries that he will visit, the diaspora will be strong, but not as strong as it is in Canada where the Ukrainian community is so influential,” he added.
Ihor Michalchyshyn, Executive Director of the UCC echoed his sentiments, adding that he heard the same from other people. “I think he was impressed by the depth of our culture and all the rest that we do here,” he stated. Both Michalchyshyn and Hladyshevsky were impressed by Zelenskyy’s own abilities. “He’s a very good communicator he was very well received with whomever he met and was very personable and very engaging,” said Michalchyshyn. Hladyshevsky described him as an “incredibly smart man, incredibly witty. He catches the spirit of a room very quickly and he is very smooth.”
At the meeting with Zelenskyy, the UCC delegation discussed the activities and work of the Ukrainian Canadian community and described the priorities of the UCC in relations with Ukraine.
Alexandra Chyczij, UCC President, congratulated Zelenskyy on his election victory, and stressed that the Ukrainian Canadian community will continue to offer strong support to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression; support Ukraine’s continued NATO and EU integration and reform efforts; and support the development of the Ukrainian language as the sole state language. “We are pleased to see the president voice support for Ukraine’s further path to integration with the West and the development of the Ukrainian language. We will continue to work with Ukraine on these goals and priorities. We thank President Zelenskyy for the opportunity to have a constructive dialogue and look forward to a broader community meeting on President Zelenskyy’s next visit to Canada,” she stated.