As members of the Canadian Armed Forces travel to Poland to help refugees fleeing the Russian invasion, Ukrainians in Canada thank Poland for its continued support.
Members of the Ukrainian community brought gifts and official letters to the Polish Embassy in Ottawa on Thursday as a thank you. They carried signs and sang songs alongside Polish dignitaries, including charge d’affaires Krzysztof Lewandowski.
“It was an absolutely unique opportunity to meet representatives of Ukrainian associations, organizations and the Ukrainian community here,” he said.
Poland’s common border with Ukraine has become a key route for supplies entering the country and people leaving it. More than half of the approximately 3 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland. Thusday, from Canada Defense Minister Anita Anand said members of the armed forces would be deployed to Poland to help Ukrainians fleeing the war.
Anand has authorized up to 150 soldiers to join the mission, but only around 100 will be deployed at this time. They will assist in the processing of refugees and provide medical support services.
Nykolai Bilaniuk, a member of the local Ukrainian community, said Ukraine could only defend itself with the support of other countries.
“Poland has been one of the main helpers helping Ukraine,” he said.
Krakow – the country’s second-largest city with 800,000 people – morphed into a city of nearly a million people within weeks after the arrival of some 150,000 displaced Ukrainians, leading the government Poles to ask for help in coping with the influx of refugees.
“We welcome these people, we try to give them a good future. They are welcome and we will always meet their needs and them,” Lewandowski said.
“Poland has always supported Ukraine, its freedom of choice for its future.”
Bilaniuk said Ukraine is trying to be part of the Western world and Poland is a champion of this cause.
“Poland is the country that has done more than any other, in terms of logistics and welcoming refugees,” he said.
“So it’s totally crucial for Ukraine’s survival at this point, and we as a community wanted to show our gratitude to Poland.”